The BMW M3 model family is being upgraded by yet another fascinating player: the new BMW M3 Convertible, which makes its North American debut today at the 2008 New York International Auto Show. The vehicle is the third body version of BMW's high-performance sports car following the coupe and sedan, offering new possibilities to experience uncompromising driving dynamics. Sharing its siblings high-revving 414-horsepower V8 and balanced chassis designed to be "faster than its engine," the motorsports arm of the German automaker, BMW M GmbH, will offer the most powerful, best performing series production M3 to the North American market.
The all-new 2008 M3 Convertible, arriving in spring 2008, will feature the first V8 in a series-production BMW M3 (along with its coupe and sedan counterparts). It will also feature driver-adjustable settings for crucial dynamic controls encompassing engine response, steering, damping and stability (with an available steering-wheel-mounted "MDrive" button to store the preferences) and a sport oriented interior which can be optimized to the driver's desires including the comprehensive entertainment/navigation system operated through BMW's latest iDrive controller.
Racing provided the reason for the original M3's 1986 creation as the company had to produce road-going homologation versions of its 3 Series Coupe to enter the motorsports version in the German Touring Car Championship. Popularity, proven by strong sales demands, provided the impetus to continue developing the M3, making it both a better performer and more inviting road car as it evolved along with the underlying 3 Series, the company's most popular, upon which it is based.
In 1988 North Americans received their first taste of the high-rpm, naturally aspirated 2.3-liter four-cylinder M3 Coupe's 192-hp and thus was born a legend on this side of the Atlantic. The next generation arrived in 1995 with a 3.0-liter (and later, 3.2-liter) 240-hp inline-six powerplant. In 1997 the first M3 Sedan joined the family and the first M3 Convertible followed shortly thereafter. The most-recent version, available from 2001-2006 as either a coupe or convertible, again was offered with six-cylinder power, this time providing 333 hp from its 3.2 liters. This vehicle was BMW's first use of SMG (Sequential Manual Gearbox) for the U.S. market.
Lightweight, efficient V8 at the heart of the BMW M3 Convertible
The move to eight cylinders in the fourth generation BMW M3 provides a powerplant offering the seemingly disparate characteristics of more power, increased efficiency and reduced weight when compared with the previous six-cylinder M3 engine. Displacing 3,999 cubic centimeters (4.0 liters), the new light-alloy engine produces 414 hp at 8,300 rpm and 295 pounds-feet of torque at 3,900 rpm with 85 percent of the maximum torque available consistently through 6,500 rpm. This power output represents a 24 percent increase over the six-cylinder from the last generation M3 and it comes with a seven percent weight saving. Compression ratio is dialed in to 12.0:1 and redline is set at 8,400 rpm.
The V8 engine of the new BMW M3 Convertible boasts the company's variable double-VANOS camshaft management. Offering extremely fast and responsive valve timing, this technology reduces charge cycle losses and improves the output, torque and response of the engine, with a positive influence on fuel economy and emission management.
A separate throttle butterfly for each cylinder - eight in this instance - is a feature adapted from BMW M's racing heritage and provides immediate reaction to the gas pedal at all times. Two stepper motors operate the four throttle butterflies on each row of cylinders, giving the engine a particularly sensitive response at low speeds together with an immediate reaction whenever the driver presses down the accelerator for extra power and performance.
A volume flow-controlled, pendulum-slide cell pump supplies the engine with lubricating oil, delivering the quantity required by the engine. Wet sump oil lubrication, optimized for dynamic performance, ensures consistent oil supply to the high-rpm engine at all times, particularly in extreme braking maneuvers. The system features two oil sumps-a small oil sump in front of the front axle subframe and a large oil sump behind it.
A new, comprehensive electronic management system coordinates all engine functions with optimum efficiency and maximizes operational integration with the clutch, gearbox, steering and brakes. In addition, the engine control unit performs a wide range of on-board diagnosis functions and masterminds the ancillary engine units.
A highlight of the engine management system is the use of ion-current technology to determine engine knock as well as misfire and poor combustion events within the cylinders. Contrary to conventional methods, this monitoring and control function is performed precisely where the phenomena occurs-within the combustion chambers. The spark plug in each cylinder senses and controls the risk of knocking, at the same time monitoring the correct ignition and recognizing any misfiring. In other words, the spark plug acts as an actuator for the ignition and as a sensor monitoring the combustion process, and is therefore able to distinguish between a misfire and poor combustion. This dual function of the spark plugs facilitates the diagnostic procedures required in service and maintenance.
And the increased performance with better economy comes from the lightweight engine. At 445 pounds, it is seven percent or 33 pounds lighter than the previous model's Inline-6. Lightweight components do not stop with the alloy engine block. The crankcase is made of a special aluminum-silicon alloy eliminating the need for cylinder liners. Despite the need to resist high combustion pressures and engine speeds-this is the "fastest" production engine ever produced by BMW as it can reach 8,400 rpm-the engineers managed to keep the compact and rigid crankshaft weight down to 44 pounds.
Manual transmission, twin-disc clutch and Variable M Differential Lock
Power from the BMW M3 Convertible's V8 is transmitted to the rear wheels through a close-ratio six-speed manual gearbox. The performance parameters of the M3 dictated heat management as a key design factor for both the transmission and clutch. The transmission features integrated temperature-dependent oil cooling management, while internal ventilation maximizes heat dissipation for the twin-disc clutch.
The new final drive comes with a Variable M Differential Lock generating up to 100 percent locking action with fully variable action whenever required, ensuring optimum traction on all road surfaces. Responding to differences in speed between the right and left rear wheel, the Variable M Differential Lock also offers ideal support further enhancing the positive features and characteristics of rear-wheel drive.
Optional M double-clutch transmission with Drivelogic
In addition to the traditional 6-speed manual transmission, the new M3 convertible premieres a new 7-speed double clutch transmission specially designed for a high-rpm engine. The M double-clutch transmission with Drivelogic (M DCT Drivelogic) shifts gears without the slightest interruption in the flow of power. As a result, M DCT Drivelogic is able to extract the most performance possible from the car while also providing a smooth comfortable shift from one gear to the next.
The process of shifting gears is basically the same as on BMW's proven Sequential M Gearbox, meaning that even when shifting gears manually there is no need for a clutch paddle and the driver may keep the gas pedal on the floor during the shift process.
The Drivelogic control offers 11 different shift programs to suit the needs of individual drivers. Drivelogic offers 5 programs that allow for automatic operation of the transmission as well as 6 manual programs. Manual operation can be performed via a new sports shift lever exclusive to the BMW M3 or via paddles on the steering wheel (pulling the right-hand paddle to shift up, the left paddle to shift down).
In its gearshift characteristics, the new M double-clutch transmission with Drivelogic is ideally matched to the fast-revving V8 engine in the new BMW M3. M DCT Drivelogic will make its debut as an option initially on the 2008 M3 Convertible and will be available as an option on the M3 Coupe and Sedan soon afterwards.
Engineering a chassis which is "faster than the engine"
Providing sure-footed responsive handling for a high-performance, powerful and luxurious convertible, while keeping mass under control, presented numerous challenges for the BMW M3's engineers. The result is a new, aluminum chassis developed specifically for this model. The design begins with placing components in such a way as to create a 50/50 front/rear weight balance.
Virtually all of the front-end components are aluminum, including the front struts, swivel bearings, central subframe and an additional thrust panel below the engine serving to maximize lateral stiffness of the entire front section.
From the rear axle subframe through the transverse arms and track arms, to the wheel mounts re-configured in their kinematics and stiffness, to the mounting points for the longitudinal arms and the aluminum dampers, virtually every detail on the five-arm rear axle is made of aluminum and is new for this model. These weight-reduction measures and materials help reduce weight by approximately 5.5 pounds when compared to the previous M3.
Both the front and rear axles feature hollow anti-roll bars optimized for their function and weight. Incorporating two additional longitudinal reinforcement bars, axle kinematics are perfectly tailored to the overall character of the car. The result, in terms of both stability and weight, conforms to the balanced performance concept of the BMW M3 Convertible.
Compound brake system
A suitably powerful braking system for a car with this much performance was specifically developed for the new M3. The internally-vented, cross-drilled cast iron discs measure 14.2 inches in diameter at the front and 13.8 inches in the rear. Featuring large compound disc brakes and electronic anti-lock, stopping power for the new BMW M3 is strong, precise and consistent. They are connected to a floating aluminum hub by cast-in stainless-steel pins. This configuration reduces the thermal loads on the discs, thus increasing their performance and service life. An electrically-driven pump provides the system's vacuum power.
Service - and safety - is enhanced thanks to an integrated wear indicator which, through a dash display, allows the driver to monitor the condition of the brake linings. Brake service can thus be administered when necessary without guesswork.
Standard M-style light-alloy spoked wheels measure 18 x 8.5 inches with 245/40 low-profile tires at the front and 18 x 9.5 with 265/40 tires at the rear, can be supplemented by optional 19-inch versions in comparable widths and design.
Servotronic steering with the option of two manually adjustable control maps
Rear-wheel drive keeps the rack-and-pinion steering of the BMW M3 Convertible free of drive forces. A further enhancement is hydraulic Servotronic power assistance controlling steering forces as a function of road speed. When MDrive is ordered, there is also a choice of two different control maps activated through the MDrive programming menu.
In Sport mode the BMW M3 provides direct and immediate response with a relatively high steering effort. In the Normal mode, power assistance is comfort-oriented and requires less steering effort.
Latest-generation of Dynamic Stability Control
The electronic Dynamic Stability Control (DSC) monitors driving conditions and intervenes through the application of brakes and reduced engine power to stabilize the BMW M3 and help avoid major over- or under-steer situations.
In addition to engine controls and the ABS, other systems integrated in the DSC are Automatic Stability Control (ASC), which prevents the wheels from spinning on surfaces with reduced traction; the Start-Off Assistant, which prevents the car from rolling back when setting off on a grade, as well as Cornering Brake Control (CBC), which prevents the car from spinning or swerving out of control when applying the brakes in a bend.
The latest version of DSC includes additional functions for even greater driving safety. Whenever the driver is likely to apply the brakes in full within the next few seconds, the system builds up pressure in the hydraulic brake circuit and pre-loads the brake pads to ensure an immediate response. The Brake Drying feature removes water film from the discs in wet conditions, thus reducing the chance of water interfering with the initial braking process.
Electronic Damper Control recognizing the driver's style of motoring
The optional Electronic Damper Control (EDC) allows the driver to tailor the vehicle's chassis dynamics to his or her preference through one of three modes: Sport, Normal and Comfort.
The response of all dynamic driving systems is carefully tailored to the power and performance of the new BMW M3, with electronic intervention of the various systems naturally taking the dynamics of the car into account. Indeed, the driver even has the option to individually configure specific parameters, thus adjusting the response of the car to his personal preferences.
The result of these many improvements to the chassis and suspension produced clear results on the race track with the new BMW M3 significantly outperforming the lap times of previous generations on the Nordschleife of Nürburgring, where all BMW M Cars are put through their paces for their ultimate test.
Optional MDrive personalizes the driving characteristics of the new BMW M3
The M3 provides several standard and optional driver-controlled systems to tailor the driving characteristics to a driver's personal preferences.
As standard equipment, the driver can choose, with conveniently located buttons:
* The Power button: Changes the throttle response from either comfort oriented to direct/sporting.
* DSC Button: DSC may be switched off. As a default, the DSC will turn on again during the next start-up sequence.
* EDC Button (Optional): The Electronic Damping Control is adjustable offering Sport, Normal and Comfort modes.
In addition to center console mount buttons, the above systems can be preprogrammed into the vehicle key - so that the car pre-selects your favorite driver settings when you start the car.
The new M3 will also be available for the first time with the steering wheel mounted MDrive button that made its first appearance in the M5. MDrive is included as part of the optional Technology Package which also includes Electronic Damping Control, the BMW Navigation System with Real Time Traffic Data and the Comfort Access system that allows keyless operation of the vehicle.
In addition to allowing the programming of the driver selectable settings listed above, MDrive includes the M Dynamic Mode function for the DSC system, which allows for some wheel slip for very active driving while still maintaining much of the benefit of DSC and the selection of two different control maps (Sport and Normal) for the Servotronic steering activated through the MDrive programming menu. In Sport mode the BMW M3 provides direct and immediate response with a relatively high steering effort. In the Normal mode, power assistance is comfort-oriented and requires less steering effort.
A push of the MDrive button will instantaneously activate the driver-selected configuration, turning the M3 into his or her personalized Ultimate Driving Machine. The settings are stored through menus shown on the dash-mounted screen and controlled by the iDrive (located in the center console).
Brand-new in technology and design differentiates the M3 Convertible
The fourth generation BMW M3 Convertible differs greatly in looks as well as technical features from the latest 3 Series Convertible upon which it was developed. Apart from the car's unique design as well as its drivetrain and suspension technology, conceived from the start for supreme performance, lightweight technology came right at the top of the brief given to the engineers at BMW M. And the car's power-to-weight ratio of 9.4 pounds per horesepower shows how well this goal was achieved.
While the open-air BMW M3 is naturally based on the latest, fourth generation of the "regular" BMW 3 Series Convertible, the new model differs from the standard version fundamentally in terms of both looks and technical features. To begin with, the technical foundation for the new BMW M3 Convertible is provided by the BMW M3 Coupe, unique design as well as drivetrain and suspension technology created for supreme performance coming right at the top in the brief given to the engineers at BMW M.
Apart from the load-bearing body structure, only the doors, the retractable hardtop, the luggage compartment lid, the windows and the rear lights come from the "standard" open-air version of the BMW 3 Series. The range of brand-new body components, therefore, is virtually the same as in the BMW M3 Coupe.
Athletic, sporting stance separates new BMW M3 Convertible from the pack
Front to back, the design of the new BMW M3 Convertible evokes a purposeful, sporting message in a package engineered, as are racing vehicles, for structural rigidity at the lightest most efficient weight thanks to the use of the most modern components and computer-aided design. The front end, clearly a BMW based on the double-kidney shaped grill, flat headlight units with standard Xenon headlamps, boasts three large air intakes below the grill. Since the structure and configuration is determined to primarily feed air into the engine compartment, the BMW M3 Convertible, like BMW M cars in general, intentionally forgoes fog lamps featured on 3 Series models.
The "face" of the new BMW M3 also includes a power dome - flanked by an air intake on each side - in the middle of the hood which, though longer, and thanks to its aluminum composition is also lighter, than that of the 3 Series Convertible, blends harmoniously with the overall design.
The two front side panels boast a special sign of distinction characteristic of a BMW M Car and referred to by the designers as "gills," which incorporate the tri-color (blue/purple/red M3) logo. Rear-view mirrors developed for the new BMW M3 fulfill an important aerodynamic function helping reduce air resistance. Further down the side-line, the pronounced side-sills, give the BMW M3 a light and sporting look.
The new BMW M3 Convertible looks muscular from behind, its design taking up the particular look of the car's front end. A discreet lip spoiler on the trunklid optimizes the car's streamlining and reduces lift on the rear axle. In its contours, the split diffuser beneath the rear bumper takes up the shape of the air intakes at the front of the car as the air guide and the dual tailpipes move towards the centerline of the car, visually contracting the rear end at the lower center point. A further feature is the circular shape of the four straight tailpipes in typical BMW M style.
The four metallic paints reserved for BMW M cars (Melbourne Red, Jerez Black, Interlagos Blue and Silverstone) highlight the body, contours and proportions of the four-door with particular intensity. In addition to these unique hues, the BMW M3 Convertible is also available in Alpine White, Jet Black or Sparkling Graphite.
Interior design oriented an active driving experience with luxury
The interior of the BMW M3 has always been a place designed for performance driving, but without compromising the comfort of the driver and the passengers. The new BMW M3 Convertible continues this tradition with the latest innovations. The four seats are surrounded by powerful contours and flowing lines highlighting in particular the concave and convex surfaces. The horizontal lines dominating the area around the dashboard as well as the harmonious surfaces of the side linings give the interior a dynamic note.
The cockpit control area tapers out between the front seats into a newly designed center console which discreetly "swings" towards the driver. Finished in black leather, the console harmoniously continues the instrument surrounds and the control area in terms of both color and shape, comprising three function switches (Power, DSC, and optional EDC) for activating and deactivating the electronic driving programs on the side facing the driver.
Apart from the clear design and optimum ergonomic arrangement of all controls and instruments, the choice of colors inside the new BMW M3 Convertible helps the driver concentrate on driving. Regardless of the upholstery and trim color, the footwells, parcel shelf, headliner, A-pillar trim and the upper part of the instrument panel are all finished in Anthracite. This uniform, dark color scheme around the windshield helps the driver focus on driving.
There is no question as to the heritage of the vehicle upon opening the door of the new BMW M3 thanks to the M car logo in the door sills. The unique nature of the vehicle carries to the dash where the dual circular instruments typical of BMW - the speedometer and fuel gauge as well as the tachometer and oil temperature display - are in specific M style. A feature typical of BMW M cars is the variable warning zone on the tachometer that informs the driver of the recommended engine speed depending on the engine oil temperature. The borderline between the yellow pre-warning zone and the red warning zone moves up as a function of increasing oil temperature to the maximum limit of 8,400 rpm. The digital displays presenting the time, the outside temperature and odometer, as well as the various warning lights, are positioned between the two circular instruments.
The M3's leather steering wheel, with its thumb contours resting firmly in the driver's hands, provides an optimum grip for precise movement of the steering wheel. The spokes within the steering wheel incorporate the remote control buttons for the audio system and mobile phone, as well as the optional MDrive button. An additional auxiliary button may be programmed through the optional BMW iDrive system.
As an option, both the front seats are available with backrest-width adjustment, while the rear seats may be equipped with folding seatbacks which provides the 12.25 cubic foot luggage compartment even greater capacity.
A premium AM/FM/single-disc CD audio system comes standard with an auxiliary input jack. Individual entertainment options include SIRIUS satellite radio, HD radio and a USB-enabled port for control of an Apple iPod or iPhone media player. These three options can be bundled together in the Technology Package, should one choose to have them all together.
For vehicles equipped with Navigation, the comprehensive information and entertainment systems are controlled by the refined BMW iDrive. Selecting the Navigation/iDrive option also brings the performance-oriented, steering-wheel-spoke-mounted Mdrive button.
Safety begins with the body structure and continues inside
Occupant safety begins with the design of the new BMW M3 Convertible's body structure. Together with defined deformation zones, the use of high-strength steel ensures smooth and direct transmission of forces in a collision and optimum absorption of loads acting on the car. The space available for deformation is also used to avoid any damage to the passenger cell and keep damage to the body itself to a minimum, even in a severe collision.
The electronic restraint systems are tailored to the ultra-strong structure of the body. Six airbags as well as the belt latch tensioners and belt force limiters are activated by the car's central safety electronics as a function of the type and severity of a collision. Sensors located in the center of the car within the B-pillars and in the doors "tell" the safety electronics which component will offer the occupants optimum protection, with the "proper" restraint systems being activated in the event of a collision.
The driver and front passenger are protected by frontal and side airbags housed in the seat backrests. These four airbags are activated in two stages, depending on the severity of the impact. Through its size alone, the curtain head airbag protects the car's occupants on both the front and the outer rear seats. And the risk of leg injury in a head-on collision, finally, is reduced on the driver's side by defined deformation of the footrest.
The BMW M3 Convertible also comes with a rollover sensor system permanently monitoring vertical and horizontal movement of the car. At the same time a central computer evaluates data on current driving conditions, so that when the roof is open rollbars positioned behind the headrests are activated and move up immediately whenever the system registers the risk of a rollover. The belt latch tensioners for the front seats and the head/thorax airbags are activated at the same time, and as a further precaution for the event of a rollover the A-pillars and the windscreen frame are even stronger and more stable than usual.
BMW Ultimate ServiceTM:
Providing owners with incredible value and peace of mind
The BMW M3 Convertible will feature BMW Ultimate ServiceTM, a suite of services that includes the BMW Maintenance Program (formerly called Full Maintenance), Roadside Assistance and the New Vehicle Limited Warranty. BMW AssistTM with TeleService is part of the optional Premium Package or can be ordered separately as a stand-along option.
BMW Ultimate ServiceTM includes:
The BMW Maintenance Program is the only no-cost maintenance program in the industry that covers wear and tear items like brake pads and rotors for four years or 50,000 miles, whichever comes first. BMW owners pay nothing for all scheduled inspections, oil changes, brake pads, wiper blade inserts and other wear-and-tear items.
BMW Roadside Assistance is one of the industry's most comprehensive plans available. Not only is it no-charge for the first four years, but there is no mileage limit. BMW drivers enjoy the assurance of on-the-road help 24 hours a day, seven days a week, anywhere in the United States, Canada and Puerto Rico. This includes everything from flat tire changes, emergency gasoline and lock-out assistance, to towing, alternative transportation and even trip-interruption benefits. This service also includes valuable trip routing advice.
BMW New Vehicle Limited Warranty: All 2008 BMW passenger vehicles are covered by BMW's excellent Limited Warranty, which includes:
• New-vehicle warranty - four-year/50,000-mile coverage of the vehicle.
• Rust-perforation warranty - 12-year/unlimited-mileage coverage.
BMW AssistTM provides the driver with services that enhance on-the-road security and convenience, for added peace of mind. It is a part of the optional Premium package and can also be ordered separately as a stand-alone option. BMW is the only vehicle manufacturer that offers this service for four years at no additional cost. Most other manufacturers cover only the first year of service.
The in-vehicle equipment for BMW AssistTM includes GPS technology and hands-free communication functions accessed via buttons in the overhead or center console. Vehicle occupants may request emergency or other services simply by pressing a button; the BMW AssistTM system then transmits the location and vehicle information to the BMW AssistTM response center. A response specialist will then speak with the occupants to coordinate dispatch, notify emergency contacts on file, and link BMW Roadside Assistance or emergency services as needed and requested. A severe accident automatically activates the BMW AssistTM call as well. The BMW AssistTM Safety Plan also includes Remote Door Unlock and Stolen Vehicle Recovery services, which can save the owner time and money.
TeleService automatically notifies the BMW center when a vehicle will need service. This feature allows the Service Advisor to proactively set up a customer appointment and have the needed parts ready.
BMW AssistTM subscribers can also enroll in the BMW AssistTM Convenience Plan (available at an additional cost of $199 per year) to avail themselves to many BMW AssistTM Concierge services, from travel planning to dining reservations, shopping assistance and event tickets, as well as receive directions, and traffic and weather information. A selected destination and its phone number can be sent directly to the on-board navigation system and Bluetooth®-linked mobile phone, after a push of the new Concierge button. The Convenience Plan also includes Critical Calling, a new service that connects the driver in case their mobile phone is not in the vehicle or its battery is discharged. After pushing the SOS button, a BMW AssistTM response specialist will link the driver to his requested party for up to five minutes and for up to four events per year.
As before, the BMW AssistTM system includes Bluetooth® hands-free phone connectivity with hands-free phonebook access and dialing by name or number via the steering wheel controls. Use of this feature requires a customer-provided compatible Bluetooth® mobile phone.
Performance with a conscience
BMW strives to produce its motor vehicles and other products with the utmost attention to environmental compatibility and protection. Integrated into the design and development of BMW automobiles are such criteria as resource efficiency and emission control in production; environmentally responsible selection of materials; recyclability during production and within the vehicle; elimination of CFCs and hazardous materials in production; and continuing research into environmentally friendly automotive power sources. Tangible results of these efforts include the recycling of bumper cladding into other vehicle components; water-based paint color coats and powder clear coats; near-future availability of hydrogen-powered models; and various design and engineering elements that help make BMWs easier to dismantle at the end of their service life.