BMW For 1998
By Carey Russ
BMW has its best-ever year in the U.S. in 1997, selling a record number of cars. Its 1998 lineup has 17 different cars in four series. There are no brand-new cars yet this year, but there are refinements to nearly all models.
The 3-Series sedans, coupes, and convertibles include some of BMW's most affordable cars and some of its fastest. The 4-cylinder 318is Coupe and 318 Convertible have been replaced by the 6-cylinder 323is Coupe and 323i Convertible, powered by an updated version of the BMW 2.5-liter engine. The 318ti Coupe and 318i Sedan continue to provide BMW power, handling, and cachet at affordable prices.
The 328 coupe, sedan, and convertible are the mid-level choices in the 3-Series. For the committed enthusiast, the M3 coupe and sedan have true sports car speed and handling in a 4 or 5-passenger package.
Besides the two new models, 1998 3-Series cars have standard front side-impact airbags, new option packages, and a dealer- installable navigation system.
The current midsized 5-Series cars made their debut last year. The two models, the 6-cylinder 528i and the V8-powered 540i, continue to evolve. New for 1998 are the standard Head Protection System, optional rear-seat side-impact airbags, and new option packages.
The BMW 5-Series cars are unique in their class in that they are offered with manual transmissions as well as the more common automatic. Manual-equipped Bimmers are sports-luxury sedans with the emphasis on sports, and the 540i Sport with its 6-speed gearbox is a seriously fast and sporting automobile. New availability of a Sport Package for both manual and automatic 528s and the automatic 540 brings the BMW sports sedan experience to more people.
The 1998 models of BMW's premium series were introduced in mid-1997. A second-generation Dynamic Stability Control stability enhancement system joins the Head Protection System, automatic- disconnect battery terminals, and optional rear-seat side airbags to make the 7-Series BMWs even safer. An automatic tilt-up steering wheel leads a list of interior enhancements.
Three models of 7-Series are offered. The 740i has a 4.4-liter V8 engine, as does the long-wheelbase 740iL. The top-of-the-line 750iL is powered by a 5.4-liter V12 and has nearly every conceivable luxury item as standard equipment.
The newest addition to the BMW line is the South Carolina- built Z3 roadster. Originally offered with a 1.9-liter 4-cylinder engine, a 2.8-liter 6-cylinder model was added last year. All Z3 models now have a standard Rollover Protection system and upgraded convertible top. A removable hardtop will be available later in the year.