2000 BMW 3-Series Review

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The Car Connection Expert Review

Marty Padgett Marty Padgett Editorial Director
August 2, 1999

All the talk of platform sharing by the world's automakers hasn't raised many eyebrows at BMW. Two vehicles from one company sharing one platform? Piece of cake. Try nine.

Two generations ago, the BMW 3-Series platform gave birth to a two-door model, a four-door, a convertible, the first M3, a touring wagon (not sold in the U.S.), and a four-wheel-drive sedan. Indirectly, that platform also fathered the 318ti and Z3/M roadsters and coupes, mostly with DNA from its rear trailing-arm suspension. While the last edition trimmed down the range by a bit (sedan, coupe, convertible, M3, wagon), it still was light-years ahead of the "one car, one platform" that has nearly sunk many a manufacturer.

With the current 3-Series, the proliferation is just beginning. Last year came the cornerstones of the lineup, the 323i and 328i sedans. Soon, we'll see a convertible, a wagon (yes, here in America too) and eventually, a new M3.

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But right here, right now, BMW is priming its Regensburg plant to deliver the new 3-Series coupes, a striking pair of two-door sedans (yep, by EPA interior-volume standards they're considered sedans, but we'll call them coupes) available in either 323Ci or 328Ci form.

Sibling rivaly?

The differences between the coupes and sedans are fairly striking. BMW says the two- and four-doors share virtually no body panels, although they share the same 107.3-inch wheelbase. The coupe's windshield cant, subtle chrome, and finer interior detailing set it further apart from the four-door. The coupes also add some standard equipment that's optional on the sedans, including a sport-tuned suspension, cruise control, leather steering wheel, a trip computer, and a front-center armrest. (Between the coupes themselves, the visible differences are limited to wheel designs, badging, and the chrome exhaust tips on the 328Ci.)

328Ci interior

328Ci interior

The 328Ci's interior, with optional GPS navigation.
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