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BMW For 2001

By Carey Russ

BMW has been busy adding to the newest 3-Series, with new engines and an all-wheel drive system for 2001. And then there is the newest version of the legendary high-performance M3. The Z3 series of roadsters and coupes have the same new engines as the 3-Series cars. Those engines also can be found in the mid-size 5-Series sedans and wagons, which also have freshened styling. Minor styling revisions and a standard cell phone are the news for the premium 7-Series. The ultra-premium Z8 roadster, introduced last year, continues unchanged. The X5 "Sport Activity Vehicle," also introduced last year, is now available with a 3.0-liter six-cylinder engine as well as the original 4.4-liter V8.

The 3-Series is a benchmark for sports sedans and coupes...and convertibles and wagons. To the frustration of BMW's competitors, the 3-Series is continuously evolving. For 2001, 323 models become 325s, and 328s are 330s. Last year's 323 really had a 2.5-liter inline six, but the new engine in the 2001 325 is more powerful, with 184 horsepower versus the previous 170. The 330s have a new 3.0-liter, 225-hp inline six, replacing the old 2.8-liter, 193-hp engine. Sedans, coupes, and convertibles are offered with both engines; the wagon is available as a 325 only. Sedans and wagons can be had with all-wheel drive.

The M3 is back, with a vengeance. The third-generation, 2001 M3 is based on the 3-Series coupe, and will have a 3.2-liter inline six driving the rear wheels through a six-speed manual gearbox. Its 333 horsepower is up considerably from the U.S.-spec second-generation M3's 240. Styling will be subtly-different, and the suspension is modified to take advantage of the increased power.

The Z3 roadster and coupe also keep evolving. What was originally one roadster with a 1.9-liter four-cylinder engine is now two roadsters and a coupe. The roadsters are offered in 325 and 330 form, joined by the 330 coupe. The engines are the same as are found in the 3-Series.

As the 3-Series is the benchmark for compact sports sedans, the 5-Series is the benchmark in the mid-size class. BMW is getting maximum use from its new engines, as they are also found in some 5-Series models. The lineup expands for 2001 with new 525i sedan and wagon models. The previous 528i sedan becomes the 530i. At the top of the regular 5-Series line is the 540i, available in sedan and wagon styles and powered by a 282-hp 4.4-liter V8. All have freshened styling for 2001 that gives them greater resemblance to the high-performance M5. The M5 continues unchanged.

The 7-Series of premium luxury sedans are offered in regular and long-wheelbase form. They have minor trim changes. The popular sport package is available for all models.

BMW Specifications 2001

2.5-liter inline six-cylinder
Peak horsepower:    184 @ 6000 rpm
Peak torque, lb-ft: 175 @ 3500 rpm
3.3-liter inline six-cylinder
Peak horsepower:    225 @ 5900 rpm
Peak torque, lb-ft: 214 @ 3500 rpm
3.3-liter inline six-cylinder
Peak horsepower:    333 @ 7900 rpm
Peak torque, lb-ft: 262 @ 4900 rpm

Front-engine, rear- or all-wheel drive
 5 - speed automatic
 5 - speed manual
(6-speed manual M3)
Unit construction
Front suspension: independent strut
Rear suspension:  independent multilink

4-wheel antilock disc

City / Highway: 18/25 to 20/29 depending on model
Fuel tank:      16.6 gallons
More Information from the Manufacturer