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2001 BMW 3 Series Convertible

325Ci 2dr Convertible

Starting at | Starting at 20 MPG City - 29 MPG Highway

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  • $35,990 original MSRP
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2001 BMW 3 Series Convertible

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2001 BMW 3 Series Convertible

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2001 BMW M3 Convertible

Source: The Car Connection

Sleek, speedy, and still six-y.

by Dan Carney

“Character counts.” It’s been a slogan in recent political campaigns, but it is just as applicable to cars. At a time when too many legendary performance cars are becoming so perfect that they are losing their souls, the M3 convertible provides welcome relief. BMW’s own fabulous M5 suffers from the perfection conundrum, as does the water-cooled Porsche 911. They are both so smooth and effortlessly fast that they can be unsatisfying to drive.

BMW made the right decision when it chose to keep the M3 a six-cylinder car, rather than stuffing a V-8 into it, because the company’s heritage is in-line sixes. The six-cylinder engine not only gives the M3 a unique sound, rather than being another me-too V-8, the effort of producing 333 horsepower from a 3.2-liter six is evident. Yes the engine is strong, and yes it sounds good, but just as importantly, it conveys the impression of effort. This engine works for a living, not like the loafing V-8s that never break a sweat.

The mechanical clatter under the hood recalls a Ducati V-twin superbike, another machine that sounds like it is straining to equal (or top) its multi-cylinder competitors. Air-cooled Porsches enjoyed the same quality. The note from the M3’s dual exhaust even recalls the 911 a bit in its tone at lower revs. At higher engine speeds, the exhaust takes on the sound of a shop vac, so an aftermarket muffler would probably be a nice change.

The M3’s engine and six-speed gearbox provide a texture that engages the driver, emphasizing the activity of driving. The lack of involvement in so many new cars is probably a contributor to the plague of cell phone use while driving – “I’m not doing anything now, I might as well talk on the phone.” The M3’s driver will never feel like he or she isn’t doing anything.

Analogy time

To use the motorcycle analogy again, BMW’s bike division strayed from its heritage of horizontally-opposed “boxer” twins and fell on hard times trying to sell in-line-engined bikes like the ones other companies sold. Upon returning to its roots, the company enjoyed a renaissance. Lets hope BMW’s car side doesn’t stray too far from its in-line six-cylinder heritage. The need for that seems unnecessary when we observe the prodigious amount of power available from the M3’s 3.2-liter unit. Surely, bigger six-cylinder engines are possible for even more power, if it is needed.

The six-speed shifter and clutch feels sturdy and positive, but lacks the precision and light touch of less powerful BMWs. It may be that the heavy-duty components needed to withstand the M3’s power output aren’t conducive to the silky feel more typical of BMW products. Sadly, the result is a gearbox that does not beg the driver to find excuses to shift, as is usually the case with BMWs. That isn’t to say that the shifter or clutch are defective in any way, they just suffer by comparison.

The differential merits a mention because the “M Variable Differential Lock” puts the power to the ground with amazing efficiency. Hard launches invoke just the slightest amount of wheelspin to keep revs up, without toasting the tires. Maybe it is secretly the launch control system from the Williams-F1 race cars.

The small-diameter, fat-rimmed steering wheel, in contrast, is nearly perfect for sporty driving, and it looks racy to boot. The no-nonsense instrument panel conveys the necessary information in clearly arrayed analog gauges, with only a small information panel as a bow to the requisite techno-gimickry.

The dash lights were a disappointment, however. At the very dimmest setting, the instrument lights were just about right, though a little dimmer might have been better. For some reason, the lights don’t dim all the way down. Also, the instruments aren’t backlit, which provides better clarity with even less light. The instruments themselves are a bit dated in their styling. Some cars have equally simple-looking analog gauges that employ electroluminescent needles and backlit markings for exceptional nighttime clarity.

Clarity of purpose

The Harmon-Kardon stereo produces the kind of sound one would expect from the brand, and it provides the bonus of exceptional radio reception. To lower the convertible top the driver need only press and hold the button below the radio. There is no releasing of latches, unzipping of back windows or snapping of tonneau covers. One button releases and lowers the top and hides it under a rigid cover that is finished to look like a traditional soft boot cover. Another button reverses the process.

The glass rear window will never yellow, and its embedded defroster will help clear frost in the winter. Such features might seem obvious on a $57,000 car, but their necessity has escaped Porsche so far. The top itself is thickly lined and luxurious. As other cars move toward heavier folding hard tops, the BMW’s soft top may be the best of the remaining soft tops on the market.

The M3 convertible features the styling cues of the standard M3; bulging fenders and a power dome in the incredibly light aluminum hood, but adds a bit of swoop to the rear fenders that lends the car a low, taut appearance that should appeal to BMW fans.

A less-visible aspect that could be considered styling is the appearance of the M3’s incredible engine. The company doesn’t hide the engine under a silly plastic “beauty” cover, so enthusiasts can enjoy its industrial beauty. The six fuel injection throttle-bodies look like nothing so much as a row of old side-draft Stromberg carburetors. Most new cars, even sporty ones, simply have nothing interesting to see underhood. This is emphatically not the case with the M3. Only the replacement of the intake plenum with six individual air filters would improve the view, though it would probably cost horsepower.

The new 3-Series is clearly derived from the popular family line, and the latest, hottest model, the M3 convertible is plainly a branch in that family tree. This is a good news, bad news situation, because it looks so similar to older models that the car turned no heads on the street, aside from those of young aspiring BMW owners in slammed Civics, who waved and pointed. In a bit of cross-pollination, the clear turn signal lenses and side marker lights pioneered by Generation Y Honda pilots appear on the M3.

Compared to the zoomy Lexus SC430 and the sexy Jaguar XK8 convertibles, the BMW attracts much less notice. But at $57,220 as tested, the M3 is significantly less expensive than those cars, which cost about $80,000. It also enjoys vastly superior performance and handling, and has a back seat that can actually carry adult humans. The Lexus and the Jag aren’t even suitable for carrying children in their back seats. They might be better for instigating their creation though, because women swooned for those cars and steadfastly ignored the Bimmer with its surprisingly roomy back seat. Another likely competitor will be the Mercedes CLK55 convertible, which goes on sale this fall, and will cost about the same as the Lexus and the Jaguar.

 

2001 BMW M3 Convertible

Base Price: $54,045; as tested, $57,220
Engine: 3.2-liter in-line six, 333 hp
Transmission: six-speed manual, rear-wheel drive
Wheelbase: 107.5 in
Length: 176.8 in
Width: 70.1 in
Height: 53.7 in
Weight: 3781 lb
Fuel economy: 16 city/ 23 hwy
Standard safety equipment: Anti-lock brakes, Dynamic Stability Control system, dual front and side airbags
Major standard equipment: air conditioning, power windows/locks/mirrors, leather trim, M Variable Differential Lock, 18-inch alloy wheels
Warranty: Four years/50,000 miles

Copyright © 2001 by the Car Connection

Printable Version

2001 BMW 3 Series Convertible

Safety Features & Equipment

Braking & Traction

4-Wheel ABS Std
Traction/Stability Control Std

Passenger Restraint

Driver Air Bag Std
Passenger Air Bag Std
Side Air Bag Std
Printable Version

2001 BMW 3 Series Convertible

Original Warranty  help
Original Warranty
An original warranty is the warranty associated with a vehicle when it is brand new. In addition to the original warranty, select items, like tires, are typically covered by respective manufacturers. Also, an act of Federal law sometimes provides protection for certain components, like emissions equipment.
The original warranty is often broken down into multiple sections, including:
Basic Warranty:
Typically covers everything except for parts that wear out through normal use of the vehicle. Examples of non-covered items are brake pads, wiper blades and filters.
Drivetrain Warranty:
This warranty covers items the basic warranty does not protect. Wear and tear items such as hoses will not be covered, but key items like the engine, transmission, drive axles and driveshaft often will be.
Roadside Assistance:
The level of service differs greatly with this warranty, but many manufacturers offer a toll-free number that helps provide assistance in case you run out of gas, get a flat tire or lock your keys in the car.
Corrosion Warranty:
This warranty focuses on protecting you from holes caused by rust or corrosion in your vehicle's sheet metal.
Please check the owner's manual, visit a local dealership or look at the manufacturer's website to learn more about the specifics of the warranties that apply to a vehicle.

Miles

Months

BMW Certified Pre-Owned Warranty  help
Certified Pre-Owned Warranty
To be eligible for Certified Pre-Owned (CPO) status, vehicles generally must be recent models with relatively low mileage. CPO vehicles must also pass a detailed inspection, outlined by the manufacturer, which is measured by the number of inspected points.
Warranty coverage can vary from one manufacturer to the next. While most certified pre-owned programs transfer and extend the existing new car warranty terms, others offer a warranty that simply represents an additional year and mileage value. Always check with the manufacturer for the specific warranties they offer.
Common features and benefits of Certified Pre-Owned warranties include:
Age/Mileage Eligibility
To even be considered for certification, a car must be a recent model year and have limited mileage. The exact requirements are established by individual manufacturers.
Lease Term Certified
Some manufacturers offer certified pre-owned cars for lease. The length of the lease is often shorter than a new car lease, but it will cost you less.
Point Inspection
These inspections entail a comprehensive vehicle test to ensure that all parts are in excellent working order. The point inspection list is simply a numbered list of exactly what parts of the car are examined. While many inspections range from a 70- to 150-point checklist, most are very similar and are performed using strict guidelines. Ask your local dealer about specific details.
Return/Exchange Program
Some manufacturers offer a very limited return or exchange period. Find out if you will get the sales tax and licensing/registration fees back should you return or exchange the car.
Roadside Assistance
Most certified pre-owned programs offer free roadside service in case your car breaks down while still under warranty.
Special Financing
Reduced-rate loans are available through many certified pre-owned programs. Manufacturer-backed inspections and warranties help eliminate the risks involved with buying pre-owned, so buyers who qualify can take advantage of the great offers.
Transferable Warranty
When a new car warranty transfers with the certification of the car and remains eligible for the next owner, it is known as a transferable warranty. Once the original transferable warranty expires, an extended warranty takes effect.
Warranty Deductible
This is the amount for which you are responsible when repair work is performed under the warranty. Some manufacturers require a deductible while others don't, so always ask.

Every Certified Pre-Owned BMW comes with a protection plan designed to give you the ultimate peace-of-mind.

All Certified Pre-Owned BMW vehicles are exceptional, as are our two tiers of certification:

-BMW Certified Pre-Owned: Covers you for 2 years/50,000 miles¹ after the expiration of the 4-year/50,000-mile New Vehicle/SAV Limited Warranty for a total of 6 years/100,000 miles¹. This includes 24/7 Roadside Assistance and BMW AssistTM Emergency Call, which includes automatic collision notification, and TeleService

-BMW Certified Pre-Owned Elite: These are newer model year, lower mileage (more than 300 miles but less than 15,001 miles) vehicles. This warranty covers you for 1 year/25,000 miles¹ after the expiration of the 4-year/50,000-mile New Vehicle/SAV Limited Warranty or for a total of 5 years/75,000 miles¹. This includes 5 years of 24/7 Roadside Assistance and BMW AssistTM Emergency Call, which includes automatic collision notification, and TeleService.

Vehicles must pass a rigorous pre-certification inspection conducted by BMW certified technicians.

For complete program details, visit cpo.bmwusa.com.

¹ Whichever comes first
Age/Mileage Eligibility 5 years / 60,000 miles
Lease Term Certified Yes
Point Inspection View & Download the BMW Certified Pre-Owned Inspection Checklist
Return/Exchange Program No
Roadside Assistance Yes
Special Financing Yes
Transferrable Warranty Yes
Warranty Deductible $50

Learn more about certified pre-owned vehicles

Printable Version

2001 BMW 3 Series Convertible

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