is for Macho.
covetable new high-performing
M3 Convertible: 420bhp 4.0-litre
V8; 155mph; zero to 62mph in
5.1 seconds. Yours for in excess
THE BMW M3, in any of its three body styles, is regarded as a performance
icon. They are performance masterpieces, and compete easily with most supercars
for acceleration, agile handling and grip. The Convertible version of the M3
mainly competes for sales against the Mercedes-Benz CLK 63 AMG and Audi RS4
The two-door, four-seater M3 Convertible with its folding metal hard-top uses
the F1-inspired 420bhp 4.0-litre V8 petrol engine, as do the M3 Coupé and Saloon
variants. This high-revving unit develops maximum power at 8,300rpm and 85 per
cent of its 295lb ft of torque is available from 2,000 with the full 295lb ft
from 3,900rpm through to 8,400rpm. Top speed is, as usual, electronically restricted
to 155mph; the 0-62mph acceleration time for the manual gearbox model is 5.3
seconds marginally slower than the fixed-roof M3 Coupé and Saloon because
of the added weight brought about by the strengthening of the convertible bodyshell.
The DCT sequential automatic transmission variant is slightly quicker, taking
5.1 seconds to get from zero to 62mph.
It's best we do not dwell on fuel consumption and CO2 emission figures too long,
given today's fuel prices and high road tax charges. Officially the M3 Convertible
with the six-speed manual transmission will return 21.9mpg on average and its
309g/km CO2 emissions incurs a road tax bill of £400 (£440 from April 2009).
The consumption of my test car (with the 7-speed DCT double-clutch man/auto
transmission) dipped as low as 15.7mpg for local journeys although this improved
after some steady legal speed motorway travelling to 22.2mpg.
CO2 emissions are marginally better (293g/km) but it's still the same £400 road
tax bill. Just for the record, the official fuel consumption figures are 16.3,
23 and 30.1mpg respectively for urban, combined and extra-urban.
BMW says the new M3 Convertible is both more fuel efficient and produces less
C02 than its predecessor by around 5 per cent better, and that despite
the breathtaking performance. This is mainly due to the use of BMW's highly-rated
EfficientDynamics programme which features Brake Energy Regeneration, Optimum
Shift Indicator and lightweight materials.
This latest BMW M3 Convertible is the first of BMW's M cars to feature a retractable
hard-top as standard. The electro-hydraulic roof is fully automatic and can
be lowered in 22 seconds. The M3 Convertible is also fitted with SunReflective
leather, allowing owners to leave the top down for extended periods without
the risk of the seat leather overheating. More appropriately this summer, the
SunReflective leather is also waterproof…
Underpinning the M3 Convertible's muscular body is a chassis and suspension
system tailor-made for the demanding requirements of an open-top car. Torsional
rigidity has been significantly improved over the previous model, while the
suspension has been fine-tuned to take into account the specific weight distribution
of a convertible. With the roof down there is still the hint of bodyshell judder
over rough road surfaces, albeit minimal.
The combination of a strong structure and advanced occupant restraint systems
means the BMW M3 Convertible offers the highest possible standards of passive
and active safety for occupants. Like the standard 3 Series Convertible, the
M3 version is equipped with a rollover sensor system that constantly monitors
the vertical and horizontal movement of the car. If the sensors (which are located
in the centre of the car, on the B pillars and in the doors) detect that a rollover
is imminent, roll bars located behind the rear headrests pop up. At the same
time, the front seatbelt pre-tensioners are activated and the head/thorax airbags
So it's fast and safe and packed full of technology, as its £54,760 base price-tag
suggests. It has the usual complicated BMW iDrive information and settings system
and on-board computer, which I'm told is simplified in the about-to-be launched
updated 3 Series Saloon and Touring models. There is M Sports suspension, which
gives a firm ride, the M Servotronic variable-rate power-steering and variable
M differential lock for optimum wheel grip despite the varying loads on the
rear wheels during fast cornering. The M3 Convertible is, of course, equipped
with a Dynamic Stability Control programme and Corner Brake Control which balances
the braking performance through fast corners when needed.
Elsewhere the M3 features rain sensor wipers, automatic headlight activation,
remote control alarm, side, front and rear airbags, Xenon headlights, electrically-operated
M Sport front seats, aluminium domed bonnet, M aerodynamic exterior body styling
with flared wheel arches, 18-inch alloy wheels, rear spoiler, M3 body logos,
rear parking distance sensors, automatic air conditioning, cruise control and
a navigation system. My test car came with a further £9,135 worth of fitted
options, including DAB radio, electronic damper control and 19-inch wheels
giving this particular M3 Convertible an on-the-road price of £63,895.
For that money I'd want guaranteed sunshine to use this brilliant car to its
wonderful best. Not that it's perfect: the boot space is limited (350 litres
roof up and 210 litres roof down); the rear seat legroom is not great due to
the space taken up by the retracting roof mechanism. Despite that, there's no
denying that a performance icon the M3 Convertible certainly is.
Whether such high performance gas-guzzling models are acceptable in today's
world is another issue. Probably a 3 Series Convertible with the 320d fuel-efficient
140g/km CO2 diesel engine priced at £33,440 is more appropriate,
given today's slow moving traffic conditions and high taxation costs.
However, most customers able to write a cheque for in excess of £60,000 on what
will probably, for them, be a second or even a third car, will not be too bothered
by the M3 Convertible's very high running costs and high CO2 emissions, or by
the reduced rear seat legroom and boot space compared to M3 Coupé and Saloon
models. They will be too busy enjoying the awesome performance, sensational
handling and the easy to use retractable roof. Besides, what good is money if
you can't spend some on making life more exciting? David Miles
BMW M3 Convertible DCT | £57,350
Maximum speed: 155mph | 0-62mph: 5.1 seconds
Overall test MPG: 15.7-22.2mpg | Power: 420bhp | Torque: 295lb ft
CO2 293g/km | VED Band G £400 | Insurance group 20