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2008 BMW 328i Convertible Review

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SPECIFICATIONS 2008 BMW 328i Convertible

Model: BMW 328i convertible
Engine: 3.0-liter DOHC inline six
Horsepower/Torque: 230 hp/200 lb.-ft.
Transmission: 6-speed manual
Wheelbase: 108.7 in.
Length x Width x Height: 180.6 x 70.2 x 54.5 in.
Tires: P255/35R18
Cargo volume: 9.0 cu. ft.
Economy: 17 mpg city/27 mpg highway/19.8 mpg test
Fuel capacity: 16.1 gal.
Price: $49,825 (includes $775 destination charge and 45,850 in options)

The Bottom Line – Of the choices one has for a BMW sporty car, the 328i convertible is by far the best. It’s beautiful, much better looking in my eyes than the Z4, and it carries up to four people. It looks like a “normal” 3-Series coupe, but when the hard top is stowed in the trunk it’s a new animal.

A week in a BMW 328i convertible is not an unpleasant way to spend your time. To me, this is one of the gems in the BMW catalog that’s filled with gems. By day, it’s a normal-looking BMW 3-Series coupe, if a tad longer. When the top drops, though, it turns into the “mature” sports car of BMW’s line, competing with the Z4 and outlooking it in every sense.

The top is a marvel of engineering. My simple mind still can’t comprehend how engineers can develop a hard top that can separate, fold and disappear into the trunk. In the case of the 328i, it takes about 10-12 seconds for the transformation.

To make the transformation work, a sliding panel must be in place in the trunk. If it’s in the “up” position, you get the full advantage of the limited 9.0 cubic foot trunk. When it’s lowered, trunk space becomes minimal, but the top then has a place to go. The lowered top also frees up the rear seat for storage. The seat is somewhat obscured when the top’s up because you have to slide the front seat forward, etc., to gain access.

In convertible form, there’s some outside noise from wind, etc. Conversation is possible and wind buffeting is minimal, which made my wife happy.

The 3-liter inline six has enough power for every situation. Combined with a 6-speed manual transmission that is as slick as oil, we found that we could move quickly whenever and wherever we wanted.

To start the 328i, you insert the key fob in a special slot and push the “stop/start” button located just above. The instrument panel is clear with two large rough white-on-black gauges; one for the tachometer/fuel level and the other for the speed and water temperature.

Handling is excellent as well. The 328i isn’t hard-sprung like some sports cars, yet it handles curves in a flat attitude. In this case, the 328i seems more like the coupe than a sports car. I felt the handling was excellent in all the situations we tried. If we took it on a road racing track, or in aslalom, I might find something to complain about, but in normal driving it’s excellent.

The front seats are comfortable and offer good side and thigh support with the seat extensions. We took the 328i on a long Interstate ride and had no aches and pain when we reached our destination. Once there, we tried it on dirt and winding back country roads and had a ball.

The rear seats are flat and don’t offer excellent legroom. However, there’s plenty of room for a facing-forward car seat, and there’s enough legroom for a small child. Adults might find it uncomfortable.

I felt the radio was so-so. It didn’t pull in my favorite stations from about 60 miles away and when it did. There was often interference from other stations. With the top down, the only way we could listen was to turn the volume up like a teenager would, or shut it off. We shut it off.

We had power windows for all four windows including a switch that would lower or raise all four at once.

The BMW 328i is an excellent riding car for long trips and it’s still fun for short hops. Even with the manual transmission, it isn’t a problem around town. The price is high, though, and you might find that some of the options aren’t necessary. The base price is $43,200, about $6,900 more than the 328i coupe.

2008 The Auto Page Syndicate