Fleet News

BMW 3-series coupe

BMW

Review

Never mind that it boasts smoother styling and goes like a rocket – BMW’s next-generation 3-series Coupe also promises to be an even better buy.

Significant improvements in fuel economy and exhaust emission figures are set to turn the all-new Coupe into a premium car pacesetter for value in the corporate sector, believe officials at the German company.

BMW GB corporate sales manager Chris Brownridge said: ‘The current car is good value – very good, in fact – but the next one will represent an outstandingly astute buy for both the user-chooser and the private individual.’

According to preliminary ownership costs, claims BMW, upper-rate taxpayers who opt for the 325i SE version will be better off to the tune of £50 per month in company car tax compared with drivers in rivals like the Mercedes-Benz CLK280 Elegance, the Peugeot 407 Coupe 3.0 V6 SE and the Alfa Romeo GT Coupe 3.2 V6.

‘The car looks pretty good in the metal, but it also makes a convincing case for itself on paper’, Brownridge told Fleet News as the first example of the new range was launched in Germany.

Costing between £28,090 and £33,420 respectively, the range will initially be offered as either a 325i or 335i SE Coupe – the latter its more powerful stablemate and the first BMW to feature a twin-turbo petrol engine.

By the autumn, 3.0-litre petrol and diesel versions will come on stream and four-cylinder petrol and diesel models will complete the range, with the exception of the sporty M variants which are due early next year.

Longer, wider and taller than the current model, the third-generation 325i Coupe will cost £510 more than its predecessor but an enhanced specification will put its price on a par with the outgoing model.

Only the top 335i was available to drive at the launch and, according to BMW, the 306bhp 3.0-litre engine is 70kg lighter than a 4.0-litre normally-aspirated V8 of similar output.

It pushes the car to the 62mph benchmark acceleration rate in just 5.5 seconds and has a top speed limited to 155mph, yet returns average fuel economy nudging 30mpg.

When they reach UK showrooms, the SE-spec cars will come with a six-speed manual transmission, air-conditioning, CD player, six airbags, automatic xenon headlamps and wipers, rear parking assistance, daytime lighting and extra interior illumination, electric seat adjusters, dynamic stability control and a traction control system including brake standby, rain brake support, hill start assist and fade compensation. Both will sit on 17-inch alloy wheels.

Surprisingly, the move for greater sporting elegance has resulted in a rear seat configured for just two occupants rather than three – a move that could be seen as making the model less practical for family use.

Brownridge said: ‘For the remainder of this year, we expect to sell 4,000 examples, but we’re planning to achieve around 13,000 registrations next year to equal the total we reached in 2003 – our best year for the Coupe.

‘I think our Coupe business will grow because this is an outstanding niche product. This model range has always been a strong competitor in terms of residual values, but the new car has the pedigree to reinforce this and there’s no doubt that wholelife costs make it an astute purchase.

‘It has four proper seats and a 440-litre boot – the biggest in the sector – so it will have strong appeal to the corporate driver.’

Behind the wheel

Elongated rear lamp clusters add visual width to the 3-series saloon and have made BMW’s popular coupe sleeker and more dynamic.

It’s the aspect of the car other drivers are likely to become most familiar with, particularly if the bootlid happens to carry the 335i badge.

In this form, the most attractive 3-series is a belter that simply streaks ahead each time you press the accelerator – irrespective of the speed it happens to be doing at the time.

The twin-turbocharged straight-six engine rasps as the revs rise, but a huge amount of torque available from as little as 1,300rpm provides a strong, diesel-like pull that extends all the way up to the 7,000rpm mark on the rev counter.

By any yardstick, the 335i is a keen driver’s dream – but its also a potential licence-loser because 50-50 weight distribution over the axles, wonderfully direct steering and perfect balance all combine to mask the sensation of speed.

As good as it is in standard trim, the recipe gets even better with the latest six-speed automatic gearbox.

Better hydraulics and improved computer control provide 50% faster gearchanges which are imperceptible in fully automatic Drive mode and instantaneous when controlled manually via the steering wheel toggle switches – and a delightful blip in revs accompanies down shifts to guarantee velvety smoothness.

Verdict

Super looks drive the new 3-series Coupe further upmarket and puts fresh distance between BMW and its prestige sector rivals.

With the innovative twin-turbo petrol engine under its long and elegant bonnet, this car has all it takes to stay in front. And with more engines to come, there will be a Coupe to suit all pockets.

Model: 325i 335i
Max power (bhp/rpm): 218/6,500 306/5,800
Max torque (lb-ft/rpm): 184/2,750 295/1,300
Max speed (mph): 153 155
0-62mph (secs): 6.9 5.5
Fuel consumption (mpg): 33.6 29.7
CO2 emissions (g/km): 203 228
On sale: September Prices (OTR): £28,090 £33,420

  • Click on the next page to view picture

  • CO2 emissions and fuel consumption data correct at time of writing. The latest figures are available in the Fleet News fuel cost calculator and the company car tax calculator.

    BMW 4 Series first drive | grilles aside we can't fault the drive

    First impressions may have underwhelmed, but don’t judge a book by its enlarged front grilles.

    Road test: Audi TT Coupe 2.0 S line TDI Ultra 184 6 speed car review

    Third generation surprisingly popular sporty choice for fleets

    Search Car Reviews

    Leave a comment for your chance to win £20 of John Lewis vouchers.

    Every issue of Fleet News the editor picks his favourite comment from the past two weeks – get involved for your chance to appear in print and win!

    Comment as guest


    Login  /  Register

    Comments

    No comments have been made yet.