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Expert Reviews 1 of 4
By Jim Flammang
December 19, 2003
Vehicle Overview BMW has given its 325 coupe and convertible a substantial freshening. Both body styles were launched as early 2004 models. Sedans and wagons followed in the fall of 2003.
New front ends for the 325Ci coupe and convertible feature lighting units that sweep upward as they wrap around the bodysides. A wider grille sits below a hood with modified contours, and the wheel openings are more prominently flared this year.
Rain-sensing wipers and automatic headlight control are now standard on all body styles. Xenon high-intensity-discharge headlights are available either alone or with an adaptive feature that steers the headlights into oncoming curves.
BMWs six-speed Sequential Manual Gearbox (SMG) is now available on all rear-wheel-drive models with a Sport Package. Wagons get new five-spoke alloy wheels for 2004. New options include Sirius Satellite Radio and Bluetooth wireless technology.
In addition to the four-door 325i and 325xi sedans and the 325Ci coupe and convertible, the lineup includes 325i and 325xi wagons. All models use a 2.5-liter inline-six-cylinder engine. BMW also sells 330 series models with a larger engine. Like other BMWs, the 325 series is rear-wheel drive, but an all-wheel-drive 325xi sedan is available.
All models in the 325 and 330 series exhibit BMWs familiar look, with four round wraparound-style headlights and a twin-kidney grille. The two- and four-door models looked different up front in 2003, but the 2004 models have moved closer together in appearance.
The coupes and convertibles are 176.7 inches long overall, while the sedans are fractionally shorter. All 325 models have a 107.3-inch wheelbase, but two-door body styles are wider and lower than the sedans and wagons. The windshields on the coupe and convertible are slanted 2 degrees more than the sedans. Convertibles have a standard manual-folding top, and power operation is optional. Standard tires are 16 inches in diameter, but 17-inch wheels come in a Sport Package.
All sedan and wagon models hold five people, while the coupe and convertible are four-seaters. Space is ample up front with twin bucket seats, but passengers cant really stretch their legs in the backseat. A typical BMW dashboard holds large, clearly marked gauges.
Under the Hood
A 184-horsepower, 2.5-liter inline-six-cylinder engine in all 325 models mates with either a standard five-speed-manual gearbox or an optional five-speed-automatic transmission; the automatic unit permits manual gear changes. However, BMWs six-speed Sequential Manual Gearbox (SMG) is available on rear-drive models fitted with a Sport Package.
Antilock brakes, traction control, and side-impact and side curtain-type airbags for the front seats are standard. Rear-seat side-impact airbags are optional. The front airbags deploy with less force in low-speed impacts. BMWs Dynamic Stability Control system reduces engine power and applies the brakes to prevent skids.
For many enthusiasts, BMW is still the standard by which other makes are judged partly because the German automaker stresses dynamic qualities. Spirited performance and crisp handling are the bywords. Most drivers will be content with the performance offered in any 325 model, which can be at least as much fun to drive as cars in the more potent 330 series. BMWs manual gearshift is an absolute joy to operate.
Athletic maneuvers are the norm in both ordinary and demanding driving. The availability of all-wheel drive is a bonus for driving on ice and snow. The seats are firm and driver oriented, but getting in and out of a 325 isnt quite as easy as it is in some cars.