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BMW At the NAIAS: Two Exciting New Models Debut

11 January 2000

BMW At the NAIAS: Two Exciting New Models Debut
    WOODCLIFF LAKE, N.J., Jan. 10  The North American
International Auto Show is the venue for two important BMW debuts. The 323Ci
convertible and X5 3.0i celebrate their world premiere. The Z8 sports car the
323i sport wagon appear for the first time in the U.S. almost simultaneously
in Detroit and Los Angeles. Each of these new BMWs sets a new standard in its
own way: the convertible as the first of a new line of successors to the 3
Series convertibles of 1994-99; the sport wagon as not just an all-new model,
but the first 3 Series wagon ever offered in North America; and the new
6-cylinder X5 as the second model of what has already proved itself to be an
immensely popular new vehicle concept.  The Z8 blends classic sports car
styling with cutting-edge performance and technology.


    The Z8, an exotic V8-powered 2-seater sports car at the highest level of
contemporary engineering and technology, has already been hailed by expert
media as "ready to spearhead the company's charge into the new millennium"
(AutoWeek, August 2, 1999) and "a bold Bavarian supercar" (Road & Track, May
'99)... all of which begins to sound like understatement when one learns what
the Z8's voluptuous shape is, and what it conceals.
    What the shape is: A contemporary sports-car design that recalls the
glorious BMW 507 roadster of 1956-59, the Z8's design forms the outer skin of
an innovative new aluminum space frame construction. Combining a robust
aluminum "skeleton" with structural body panels into an amazingly rigid, yet
relatively light unit, the Z8's body/chassis structure is a wave of the future
that radiates the romance and excitement of classic design.
    What the shape conceals: First and foremost, under the classically long
hood, the very 5-liter, 394-hp V8 engine that also powers the new M5 sport
sedan. Here, driving through the same 6-speed manual transmission but carrying
some 470 pounds less weight, the V8 powers the Z8 to a 0-60-mph time well
below 5 seconds -- and of course does so with thundering sonority to match the
Z8's compelling looks.
    This engine is by no means all the Z8's technological appeal. BMW has
developed an all-new front suspension system, naturally made of aluminum and
steered by a razor-sharp rack-and-pinion steering system; at the rear BMW's
proven Integral Link suspension also appears in aluminum. Contact with the
road is maintained by hefty 18-in. alloy wheels with W-rated performance tires
of differentiated front/rear sizes and run-flat capability. Active safety is
further enhanced by BMW's Dynamic Stability Control.
    The fortunate driver of this top-caliber sports car commands its
performance from a leather-lined cockpit for two. Here, too, design details
recall a glorious era; real aluminum trim, centrally located instruments and
distinctive color coordination are among the notable elements. Ultimate
sportiness does not preclude lavish luxury: A reference-quality audio system,
GPS Navigation, portable hands-free phone, CD changer, heated seats, fully
automatic softtop and a removable hardtop are all standard.
    Fewer than 500 units will be produced for the U.S. during 2000 in a
dedicated area of BMW's Munich, Germany facility. The Z8 had its "pre-debut"
as the Z07 concept car at the 1997 Tokyo Motor Show, and the production
version's world debut at Germany's Frankfurt Automobile Show in September
1999. Many will see the Z8 in motion for the first time at the movie theater,
as it plays the role of 007's ride in The World Is Not Enough. First
deliveries of Z8s to retail customers are expected to begin in April. The Z8's
base price is $128,570 including destination charge.


    Thirteen years ago, BMW recreated the market segment of 4-seater luxury
convertibles. It was a pioneering move when, after more than a decade of
convertibles "lying low," BMW introduced the 325i convertible in 1987. A new
generation, with sleeker styling and new engineering, followed in 1994 and
continued through 1999, last represented by the 323i and 328i convertibles and
offering such new-age features as a lined, fully automatic power softtop and
the automatically deploying Rollover Protection System.
    Now comes the third generation, as the (also) third model in the new 3
Series. The first body type -- the sedan -- made its debut as a '99 model;
coupes followed in mid-'99 as 2000 models; now, as a single model, comes the
323Ci convertible.
    The convertible is the open-air companion to the recently introduced 323Ci
coupe, as such powered by BMW's turbine-smooth 2.5-liter inline 6-cylinder
engine. Unlike its competitors, this new BMW convertible is available with a
choice of ideal drivetrains: a typically BMW precise-shifting 5-speed manual
transmission or the new STEPTRONIC 5-speed, 3-mode automatic.
    The 323Ci convertible's all-new and even sleeker, sportier styling is the
outer skin of a unit-steel structure that is even more rigid than that of its
impressively staunch predecessors. A glass rear window is also new, and the
lined softtop is designed to reduce dripping from rain when the doors and/or
windows are opened. Rear seating is now more spacious; storage of the softtop
has been newly configured so that when the top is up, trunk capacity can be
greatly increased. The hard cover that conceals the top when it is folded is
newly of weight-saving magnesium.
    Beyond the already high standard of its ponvertible as well. The Rollover Protection System, which
deploys two structural bars upward in case of impending rollover, is now
standard vs. optional in the previous 323i convertible. And the front
safety-belt system is newly integrated into the front seats themselves,
helping occupants get optimum belt fit and restraint effect while allowing
unimpeded entry into the rear seats: an exclusive feature in the 323Ci
convertible's class. As an active-safety feature, helping stabilize the
vehicle in critical cornering or avoidance maneuvers, Dynamic Stability
Control is standard -- as, indeed, on all 3 Series models for 2000.
    The 323i convertible goes on sale in March; further convertible models
will be introduced in due course.


    Over two generations, BMW has offered sport wagons in North America; they
have found a unique niche in the U.S. market as vehicles that retain typical
BMW character while adding cargo space and versatility. BMW's achievement of
this goal is confirmed in, for example, Car and Driver's June 1999 comparison
of five upscale wagons, which the 528i sport wagon won decisively: "An adept,
carefully crafted driving machine that can pull wagon double-duty" is how the
magazine characterized it. AutoWeek (September 20, 1999) saw the V8-powered
540i sport wagon in much the same terms: "sedan-handling, wagon-room."
    With the comfort and space of the current 3 Series, BMW planners believed
the time was right to bring the newest 3 Series sport wagon to the U.S.
market. It arrives here in April; as with the convertible, additional models
will appear later.
     In its relation to the 323i sedan, the 323i sport wagon exactly parallels
the corresponding 528i model: Within the same basic platform dimensions as the
sedan, the sport wagon adds a spacious, versatile cargo area behind the rear
seats. Also, to ensure a harmonious design and unlike some competitors, BMW
gives its sport wagons a wholly different body shell and doors from the
B-pillar rearward. The driving qualities that have made the 323i sedan the
leading sport sedan in its class -- "It sticks to the road as if it were on
runners," wrote AutoWeek on February 1, 1999 -- are maintained in the wagon;
in fact, Car and Driver has already driven it and reported that "the wagon
handles every bit as brilliantly as the sedan."
    The difference, of course, is behind the B-pillar, and it consists of --
    -- Slightly lower (0.2 in.) overall height, not including the standard
       roof rails
    -- Slightly greater (0.3 in.) overall length
    -- Greater (0.8 in.) rear leg room
    -- Standard split folding rear seats (sedans: optional), including three
       3-point safety belts and head restraints, pass-though, fold-down
       armrest, storage compartment and cupholders
    -- Carpeted cargo area with retractable cover, light and strong honeycomb
       floor, elastic hold-down straps on floor, tie-down hooks at side, and
       accessory power outlet
    -- Concealed underfloor storage space
    -- Upward-opening tailgate with power release (from interior or remote)
       and separately opening rear window, top spoiler and wiper/washer.

    Both convertible and sport wagon share the 3 Series' advanced technology
    -- Aluminum inline 6-cylinder engine with steplessly variable intake and
       exhaust valve timing and Low Emissions Vehicle (LEV) status
    -- 5-speed manual or 5-speed STEPTRONIC automatic transmission
    -- Advanced independent suspension with aluminum components
    -- 4-wheel ventilated disc brakes with electronic front/rear
       proportioning; larger discs front & rear than 323i/323Ci
    -- Dynamic Stability Control and All Season Traction
    -- Car and Key Memory (programmable personalized features)
    -- Tilt/telescopic steering wheel
    -- Service Interval Indicator with miles-to-service readout
    -- Automatic climate control with microfilter ventilation, automatic
    -- Height-adjustable front safety belts with automatic tensioners and
       force limiters
    -- Front-seat Head Protection System (HPS) (not in convertibles)
    -- Battery Safety Terminal.

                            X5: THE WORLD'S FIRST
                           SPORTS ACTIVITY VEHICLE,
                              NOW IN TWO MODELS

    A year ago at this same venue, the BMW X5 made its world debut in the form
of the V8-powered X5 4.4i model; in the meantime it has begun to appear on
U.S. roads and byways. The X5 is like nothing else in the world: an utterly
new category of motor vehicle, one with the SUV (sport-utility)
characteristics but most emphatically not typical SUV personality, handling,
performance and ride. At its base price of $49,970 including destination
charge, the X5 is the all-new alternative for buyers seeking performance,
quality, luxury and BMW-style road capabilities in a rugged, SUV-style
vehicle. Not incidentally, the X5 also brims with advanced functional
technology, including fulltime all-wheel drive, 4-wheel All Season Traction,
Dynamic Stability Control and a remarkable new driving amenity called Hill
Descent Control.
    As the second X5 model, the new X5 3.0i now makes its world debut here in
Detroit as well. Powered by a new evolution of BMW's smooth, sonorous and
universally acclaimed inline 6-cylinder engine, with 3.0-liter displacement
and 224 hp, the X5 3.0i will be available with a 5-speed manual transmission,
thus adding another dimension to the its unique combination of BMW sportiness
and SUV characteristics. Naturally, it will also be available with a 5-speed
automatic. The X5 3.0i goes on sale in May at a base price of $39,470

                                BMW IN AMERICA

    BMW entered the U.S. market in 1975.  Since then, the company has grown to
include marketing, sales and financial service organizations in the United
States; a South Carolina manufacturing operation; a design firm in California;
a technology office in Palo Alto and various other operations throughout the
country.  BMW is represented in the U.S. through a network of more than 340
car, 300 Sports Activity Vehicle and 160 motorcycle retailers.  BMW US Holding
Corp., the Group's headquarters for North, Central and South America, is
located in Woodcliff Lake, New Jersey.
    Information about BMW products is available to consumers via the World
Wide Web on the BMW homepage.  The address is: