2011 BMW 3 Series Coupe, Convertible: First Look

  • Competes with: Audi A5/S5, Infiniti G37, Cadillac CTS Coupe
  • Looks like: The outgoing 3 Series mixed with a bit of Z4
  • Drivetrain: 230-hp, 3.0-liter six-cylinder or 300-hp, turbocharged 3.0-liter six-cylinder with six-speed manual or six-speed automatic; rear- or all-wheel drive.
  • Hits dealerships: Spring 2010

On Sunday BMW released information about its nominally updated 3 Series coupe and convertible. In 335i form, both models receive an updated 3.0-liter turbo engine. It makes the same 300 horsepower and 300 pounds-feet of torque, though the latter figure comes 200 rpm lower – at an incredibly low 1,200 rpm, not the previous 1,400 rpm.

BMW says the engine, which now uses the automaker’s throttle-free Valvetronic system, is “more responsive, more fuel efficient and cleaner running” than the existing 3.0-liter turbo. We’ll have to drive the car to tell the difference. Neither BMW nor the EPA has published gas mileage figures yet, but we’d expect a nominal increase over the 335i’s current mileage — 16/25 mpg city/highway — to 17/26 mpg, depending on transmission and rear- or all-wheel drive.
The 328i’s 3.0-liter naturally aspirated engine carries over; it makes 230 hp and 200 pounds-feet of torque. Both engines work through a six-speed manual or six-speed automatic, and either coupe can be equipped with BMW’s xDrive all-wheel drive.
Changes for both cars include updated LED headlight rings, new taillights and side mirrors, an updated grille and a reshaped hood. The front bumpers adopt a single, wider air dam with strakes similar to the redesigned Z4’s. Inside, left-right paddle shifters for the automatic transmission replace the previous push-pull design, and it appears the automatic gets BMW’s new electronic shifter. Here’s hoping it feels more natural than the less-than-ergonomic gearshifts in BMW’s other cars that went that route.
The 2011 3 Series coupe and convertible hit dealerships this spring. There’s no word on whether the sedan will receive similar changes; it last saw a number of updates for the 2009 model year. BMW hasn’t announced any pricing yet, but we’d expect the coupe and convertible to start near their current prices of $36,200 and $45,000, respectively.

More photos below.

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