THE RIDE: Two-door, four-passenger 2007 BMW 328i convertible.
DOWN THE ROAD: All-new for 2007, the convertible is tops for top-down motoring. It isn't just sharp-looking and sleek but also quick on its feet. The 6-speed manual transmission can take you from 0 to 60 mph in 6.7 seconds. After 20 years, this fourth-generation 3 Series car continues to make fresh inroads into the luxury convertible world.
TECH & PERFORMANCFE: The 328i is equipped with a 3.0-liter normally-aspirated, inline six-cylinder engine. It develops 230 horsepower at 6500 rpm and churns out 200 pounds-feet of torque at 2750 rpm. It is mated to a standard 6-speed manual or an optional 6-speed automatic transmission. A double-pivot MacPherson strut in the front and a five-link independent real suspension absorbs serious road bumps with ease, resulting in a comfortable well-damped ride. Front and rear anti-roll stabilizer bars provide decent stability, even at sharp corners. Stopping abilities for the sprightly car are handled by 12.3-inch front and 11.8-inch rear disc brakes. The standard run-flat 17-inch alloy wheels, which can travel 150 miles at 50 mph, come in handy if you get a puncture during a long-distance drive.
LOOK & FEEL: The traditional BMW kidney grille sits amid adaptive xenon headlights, as the lower fascia sports black-grille air intakes and halogen fog lights. Horizontal LED tail lights, sharing space with the trunk door along with the chromed exhaust outlet, lend a refined look. The materials and craftsmanship are top-class, as is expected of any BMW. Dark burl-walnut wood on the center console, door panels and shifter area blend in aptly with the cream beige leather surroundings. The three-spoke steering wheel with audio and phone controls conveys a solid feel. In typical European fashion, pop-out cupholders are hidden in the dashboard. The retractable hardtop opens in 22 seconds and takes just a second longer to close. The 328i may be a convertible but there are numerous storage bins in the door pockets as well as a rear seat that folds down for extra cargo space.
SAFETY FIRST: Standard features include dual front and side airbags, automatic rollover bars, four-wheel antilock brakes, antiskid system, tire pressure monitoring system, daytime running lights, automatic safety-belt pretensioners, Dynamic Stability Control and traction control.
OUT THE DOOR: $43,200, plus tax, tag, delivery and destination charges. The Premium Package at $2,650 will fetch you power folding and auto-dimming side mirrors, digital compass in interior mirror and Dakota leather upholstery.
BY THE NUMBERS: Tires, 225/45R17 run flat; wheelbase, 108.7 inches; length, 180.6 inches; weight, 3,792 pounds; fuel capacity, 16.1 gallons; highway, 30 mpg; city, 20 mpg.
WHY DIG IT: For long, the 3 Series has been the leader in the luxury sports sedan/coupe market. The 328i convertible proves that BMW constantly is improvising and introducing new products. If a hardtop is on your list of vehicles, this one should be at the top.