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Expert Reviews 1 of 4
By Jim Flammang
March 27, 2002
Vehicle Overview An in-dash CD player and remote keyless entry are now standard in BMWs two-seat Z3 hatchback roadster and coupe, though the CD unit wasnt available until after the start of 2002 production. A new Sport Package for the 3.0i roadster includes cross-spoke 17-inch wheels, sport seats, heated mirrors, new brushed-aluminum console trim and a mesh-front air intake.
Three models are offered: a 2.5i roadster with a 184-horsepower inline-six-cylinder engine, and a 3.0i coupe and roadster with a 225-hp inline-six-cylinder. Both engines were introduced last year, along with an optional five-speed Steptronic automatic transmission. The 3.0i coupe gets some interior trim modifications this year, while both roadsters gain new Nevada leather. High-performance M coupe and roadster versions of the Z3 are also available, and all are built at BMWs factory in Spartanburg, S.C.
The roadster was introduced in 1996, and the coupe was added to the lineup three years later. According to company data, sales increased sharply in 2001. BMW sold 12,921 roadsters and 629 coupes in 2001, vs. 4,891 roadsters and 204 coupes in 2000.
Exterior The Z3 coupe and roadster share basic styling themes, but the coupe version has different body panels from the windshield rearward that produce a squared-off appearance at the back. The roadsters have a standard, manually operated fabric top with a plastic rear window, as well as a cloth lining to reduce noise inside. A power-operated fabric top and a removable hardtop with a glass rear window are optional.
Both body styles ride a 96.3-inch wheelbase. The 2.5i and 3.0i roadsters are 159.4 inches long overall, while the 3.0i coupe is nearly an inch shorter. The roadsters are 50.9 inches high, vs. 51.4 inches tall for the coupe. The 3.0i coupe has 17-inch radial spoke wheels, and cross-spoke wheels are available as an option. Tires for the 2.5i are 16-inch P225/50ZR16 on alloy wheels, and 17-inch rubber is available as an option.
Interior Seating is strictly for two occupants, even in the hatchback with its squared-off roofline. It looks like it could hold an extra person or two, but it cant. Standard equipment on the 2.5i includes air conditioning, leatherette upholstery, a four-way power drivers seat and two-way passenger seat, a six-speaker cassette and weather stereo system, and power windows, door locks and mirrors. Leather upholstery is optional.
The 3.0i models add leather, cruise control and a Harman/Kardon audio system, as well as wood interior trim and sport seats for the hatchback. Power seats help compensate for the lack of an adjustable steering wheel. A Sport Package includes sport seats and 17-inch cross-spoke wheels and is available for the 3.0i roadster. Cargo space totals 9 cubic feet in the coupe but only 5 cubic feet in the roadsters.
Under the Hood A 184-hp, 2.5-liter, dual-overhead-cam inline-six-cylinder engine goes into the 2.5i model. The 3.0i holds a 225-hp, 3.0-liter inline-six. A five-speed-manual shift is standard, and a five-speed-automatic transmission is optional. The automatic incorporates a Steptronic feature that permits manually selected gear changes. BMW claims the 3.0i roadster with the manual shift can accelerate from zero to 60 mph in 5.9 seconds, while the automatic-transmission versions take only a tenth of a second longer. A limited-slip rear differential is standard.
Safety Every Z3 comes with all-disc antilock brakes, side-impact airbags and dual front airbags that include a smart passenger airbag. In addition, all models have BMWs Dynamic Stability Control, which incorporates all-speed traction control and stability enhancement. BMWs Dynamic Brake Control system helps maintain braking stability through difficult turns. Rollover Protection on the roadster consists of two structural hoops behind the seats.