This is a fully imported/assembled model that is brought in for the Malaysian market. The car shares the same design lines with the E92 Coupé. The car’s overall external dimensions are generally the same as the E92 Coupé with the exception of height where the E93 is slightly shorter by 11mm then the E92. In addition, there is also less room for rear passengers as its internal rear width is lesser by 83mm.
The sampled car is equipped with a retractable hardtop metal roof (3-fold), one important feature which I preferred. I always had the impression that soft tops do not give the sense of security and safety that a hardtop metal roof does. I did not time the how long it took for the metal rooftop to completely fold itself. My guesstimate is that it took about a minute. You need to continually press on the switch to effect the entire conversion and this is a better feature as it allows you to control the entire process and stop it halfway if you need to.
Boot space is limited, perhaps only for one large bag and is even lesser if you are planning to drive with the roof down as you will need to pull down a board which will take up most of the boot space to facilitate the entire conversion.
Driving a convertible in Malaysia is a challenge due to the hot and humid conditions and the frequent downpours in the evening. However, the experience of driving any convertible car itself is unforgettable as you get a different perspective and feel of your surroundings.
Step into the car and you see familiar internal designs like the Coupé. However, I did feel that the convertible has even lesser legroom compared to the Coupé especially at the rear seats. Both the front seats are electronically adjustable, but the movement is slow and it takes time to reposition each seat.
This would be okay for sedans but slows the entry for rear passengers. Flipping the front seat forward via the latch (front seat-topside) require some effort as the seats are heavy. This contrasted to the 320i Coupé where the adjustments to the front seat were easier/faster possibly because of lesser electronics. The sampled car seats come in red leather which gives a good contrast to the darker colour of the dashboard. The actual colour is actually less bright than the enclosed photos.
The car is equipped with the usual array of safety and performance features which you would expect in a 325i. It also comes with the I Drive (Navigation System Professional) and has Park Distance Controls for front and rear.
The car sports the same engine as the 325i Sports, ie the 6-cylinder 2,497cc in-line petrol engine with Valvetronic. It churns out a max power of 218bhp @ 6,500 rpm and a max torque of 250Nm @ 2,750 rpm. After the subdued experience of the 325i Sports, I was keen to find out whether this car can overcome some of the former’s shortcomings.
When I first drove this car, I immediately sensed this car performed at a higher level. It did not have the ‘power lag’ issue which I had experienced in the 325i Sports. Perhaps that may be a batch specific issue, or perhaps they have remapped the ECU. However, this car was more responsive. The engine is also rev friendly and during hard acceleration, it reached the red line (slightly past 7,000 rpm on the first gear!). Three quarters past the second gear and the car already reached 110km/h (have a listen to the sound files below). The engine is also more refined than its 4-cylinder counterpart and has lower noise levels (from inside).
Being a convertible, wind noise may be an issue and I was surprised that this was kept to a minimum. Wind noise was not obtrusive and NVH could easily match its sedan counterpart. The steering did not have the heavy feeling at low speeds which plagued the 320i models. Handling is up a notch compared to the entry level 320i and the steering provided a better balance of weight/feedback. Just 1½ turns on the steering wheel is required for a full turn.
The car balances well and body roll is not discernable even with fast cornering. The car has good grip and is fitted with 17 inch Bridgestone Potenza run flat tyres. The rear tyres are slightly wider and slimmer (255/40R17) than the front tyres (225/45R17). Transmission is 6 speed automatic with Steptronic. The steering wheel is equipped with chrome gearshift paddles and gives the driver an alternative option for manual gear change (on top of the standard Steptronic).
A not so favorable aspect of the car’s engine performance is its fuel consumption. This car is very ‘thirsty’ compared to the 320i. The spec sheet stated 9.2 litres per 100km but in actual driving it was much higher. The current driver of this vehicle averaged about 12.5 litres per 100km (assumed driving at full auto). Even a short leisurely drive (around 30-40 min) will see the fuel gauge drop by a line. With more spirited driving, fuel consumption may be even higher.
One unusual feature of the instrument panel is the absence of the Energy Control display which I had not seen so far in the BMW cars I tried out. In its place was the Engine Coolant Temperature Gauge Oil Temperature display. I would have preferred the former as this aids in assessing the car’s fuel consumption whilst driving.
The car’s suspension set up is well suited to Malaysian roads. It is firm but not too harsh. Going through bumps was relatively painless and the car provided good balance between high performance and comfort for the driver and passengers. In one trip my fellow passengers were easily lulled to sleep!
The adaptive Xenon headlights give good illumination making driving easy at night but the internal/reading lights are quite dim. This coupled with the absence of rear reading lights would make it close to impossible for rear passengers to read at night.
|Engine||6-cylinder in-line petrol engine with Valvetronic|
|Max Output||218bhp/6,500 rpm|
|Max Torque||250nm/2,750 rpm|
Source: BMW Brochure
Note: Please reconfirm the above specifications with an authorized BMW dealer
Click on these to sample sounds from the car!