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2007 BMW 3-Series Coupe Preview Drive

What a difference two fewer doors makes!

About.com Rating 5 Star Rating

By BJ Killeen

2007 BMW 3-series rear view

2007 BMW 3-series coupe

Photo © BMW
For those who read my 2006 BMW 3-Series sedan test drive, you know I wasn’t as impressed with that vehicle as I usually am with BMWs. The new 3-Series Coupe, with two fewer doors and a lot more style, made a much more favorable impression on me. For 2007, the 3-Series Coupe is available in three trim levels: 328i, 328ix, and 335i, with a base price for the 328i of $35,995. BMW offers a 4-year/50,000-mile basic warranty, with full roadside assistance and free maintenance for the length of the warranty period. EPA fuel economy estimates: 19 to 21 MPG city, 28 to 30 MPG highway.

First Glance: Coupe style

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BMW always faces a daunting task when redesigning its products. The designs are timeless to begin with; just take a look at the 1968 BMW 2002, the precursor to the 3 Series, or the 320i, which a co-worker owned and I coveted big time. The 2002 created the sport sedan segment, and even today, BMW’s 3-Series, in sedan, coupe, convertible, or M iterations, still remains an aspirational car for today’s youth. It’s also BMW’s best-selling product, and has been since BMW came to the States 30 years ago.

The Coupe, because it has a more sporty stance than the Sedan, is much more appealing to true sports-car enthusiasts. The hood contours, the stretched body, and the slant of the A-pillar all contribute to a more muscular, athletic posture than the Sedan offers. Understandably, the Sedan needs to provide more room for the rear doors and rear-seat head room, where the Coupe can elongate its two-door body for a sleeker appearance. It just works, and looks as crisp and timeless as the original models do, and the future models will continue to be. While all three trim levels come standard with 17-inch wheels and tires, it’s a sin not to step up to the 18s (link goes to photo), especially on the 335i model, for that wheelwell look that screams performance.

Continued below…

In the Driver’s Seat: It's all about the driving experience

2007 BMW 3-series coupe interior

3-series coupe's interior is centered around the driver, but not lacking for available comfort features

Photo © BMW
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I find something comforting about BMW interiors, mostly because I know exactly what to expect. Fit and finish will be outstanding, the quality of materials will be without reproach, and form will absolutely follow function. As a highly organized person, I appreciate the practical nature of this vehicle’s cabin.

Above all, the BMW’s interior must be true to the “ultimate driving machine” principle first, and a passenger transport second. That’s not to say the vehicle is devoid of features. On the contrary, everything you need is there, including clear gauges, a tilt/telescoping steering wheel, automatic climate control, and rain-sensing wipers, to name a few. There’s a long list of optional creature comforts as well. One feature that must be discussed is the automatic safety-belt assistant, which brings the seat belt feeder arm up to the driver and passenger so there’s no awkward reaching around and contorting the body to reach the belts. Mercedes-Benz used this feature many years ago, and I remember it was noisy and always startled me because it would come close enough to tap me on the shoulder, as if someone was in the vehicle in the rear seats. The BMW system is quiet, unobtrusive, and won’t give you a heart attack if you forget it’s there.

On the Road: Power and balance

There are two engine choices, both 3.0-liter inline sixes. With the 328i you get 230 hp and 200 lb-ft of torque; on the 335i it’s an impressive 300 hp and 300 lb-ft of torque, which obviously is my preference. The biggest difference between the two engines, and the reason why the 335i cranks out so much power, is because the engine is turbocharged. In fact, it has two turbochargers, making it the world’s first twin-turbo inline six, and giving it more power than any other BMW inline-six, save for the M-Series engines. All 300 hp is on tap the minute you touch the throttle. There’s no waiting and no fooling around; press and go. The six-speed ZF manual transmission features gearing that’s spaced correctly for the BMW’s driving style. Staying in second through the rev range will reward you with progressive power. Even if you choose the automatic with Steptronic, you won’t be disappointed because the optional paddle shifters deliver the same level of driving fun as does the manual tranny.

The 3's steering is perfectly weighted: Linear, responsive and an excellent complement to the engine power and the suspension setup. 3-series buyers should definitely choose the active steering option; it’s worth the $1,250 price. If I had to sum up the Coupe’s overall driving feel, there’s one word that comes to mind: balanced.

Journey’s End: Decisions, decisions

2007 BMW 3-Series coupe

2007 BMW 3-Series coupe

Photo © BMW
If given a choice between the coupe or sedan version of most cars, I would gravitate toward the sedan for the convenience and practicality. But in the case of the new 3 Series, I’d pick the coupe hands down. Mind you, this is not an inexpensive ride. The way I’d equip it, we’re talking close to $50,000. At that price, though, I’d have to give consideration to stepping up to the 5-Series, even though it’s a sedan. But when you take into account the total value of the vehicle -- especially the fact that all maintenance for the first 4 years or 50,000 miles is complimentary -- the price seems more reasonable.

The 3 does offer a variety of configurations: Rear-drive 325i and 330i as well as the 325ix all-wheel-drive variant, all available as a sedan or a coupe. Coming soon will be the Convertible, and then the M3 serious sport edition sometime next year. The 3’s newest competitor is the Infiniti G35 Coupe, redesigned for 2007, with a bigger engine but slightly less power than the 335i.

For an interesting history lesson, visit the 3-series Heritage section of BMW USA's website. There’s a well-produced video from BMW that covers the history from the 2002’s introduction to the 3’s involvement with motorsports to the current vehicle.

BMW 3-Series Coupe photo gallery

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