BMW For 1997
By Carey Russ
The Bavarian Motor Works had a record-breaking year in 1996. With the introductions of the Z3 roadster early in the year, the newest- generation of the 5-Series midsized sedans in May, and evolutionary upgrades to the 7-Series sedans and 8-Series coupes in July, there was plenty of new product. Having James Bond drive the Z3 in the movie "Goldeneye", getting plenty of exposure during the Olympics, and being the featured marque at the Monterey Historic races didn't hurt any, either.
1997 will see a new version of the Z3 roadster with a 2.8-liter 6-cylinder engine and a facelifted 3-Series that includes a high- performance M3 sedan.
All BMW cars now have traction control, and all scheduled maintenance will be performed at no extra cost to the owner for at least the first 3 years or 36,000 miles.
James Bond drove one. Now you can, too. In fact, you can now drive one that is faster than Mr. Bond's. A new, 6-cylinder model of BMW's popular roadster joins the existing 4-cylinder Z3 for 1997.
The Z3 has been so successful that the Spartanburg, South Carolina, plant in which it is made has been running flat out to keep up with orders from around the world. The original Z3, powered by the 1.9-liter 4-cylinder engine also used in the 3-Series, will be known as the Z3 1.9. The new Z3 2.8 utilizes a 2.8-liter 6-cylinder engine, the first American-spec BMW engine to use an aluminum block for lighter weight. The Z3 2.8 has a wider rear track and some body modifications and should be significantly quicker than the 1.9.
BMW's smallest, most affordable cars have gotten a subtle restyling inside and out. Offered in coupe, sedan , and convertible styles with 1.9-liter 4-cylinder, and 2.8-liter and 3.2-liter 6-cylinder engines, there is a 3-Series Bimmer for a wide range of customers. New this year is a sedan version of the high-performance M3. It is mechanically identical to the coupe, with a 3.2-liter, 240-horsepower 6-cylinder engine and standard 5-speed manual transmission. Unlike the M3 coupe, the sedan is available with a 4-speed automatic transmission. With the 5-speed, the M3 has the fastest 0-60 time of any sedan sold in the U.S.
The fourth generation of the midsized 5-Series made its debut last spring. In many ways it is the heart of BMW. There are two models. The 528i has a 2.8-liter 6-cylinder engine. The 540i has a 4.4- liter V8. Unlike the competition, the midsized BMWs are offered with manual transmissions as well as automatics. Extensive use of aluminum keeps weight down and performance up. Mid-model year changes include standard side airbags on the 528 as well as the 540 and availability of the BMW On-Board Navigation System.
BMW's largest sedans are as performance-oriented as they are luxurious. They are available in V8-powered 740 and V12 750 models. The short-wheelbase 740i has been re-introduced this year, complementing the long-wheelbase 740iL and 750iL. All have side airbags and an optional onboard navigation system.
Two models of the BMW 8-Series coupes are offered. The V8 840Ci and V12 850Ci have had significant revisions in the past two years and continue mostly unchanged for 1997, although the 840 now has many features previously available only on the 850.