BMW 328CI Coupe

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Description: Read on to find out about the new 2000 BMW 328CI. Brought to you by the automotive experts at Motor Trend.

Some things really are worth waiting for. After a year of teasing us with an all-new four-door version of its entry-level 3 Series, Munich’s primo carmeisters have unleashed a coupe based on the platform. We made its acquaintance on the southeast coast of Spain near Malaga. There, a daylong barrage of backroad blitzing yielded solid proof that BMW has, once again, created a vehicle well worth lusting after.

Available in 323Ci and 328Ci forms, the coupe shares all its significant powertrain and chassis bits with the four-door. But despite a strong family resemblance, the only pure carry-over exterior items are door handles, side-marker lights, and badges. All sheetmetal, lamp assemblies, even the front and back glass are coupe-specific. That distinctiveness is bolstered by faster A- and C-pillar angles plus a slightly lower, wedgier profile, which gives the car a more aggressive flavor than the sedan.

Inside, the coupe also displays much commonality with its four-door kin. The most notable differences are a pair of grippier sport buckets and bespoke graphics on the main gauges. Key standards include dual front, front-side, and head airbags, automatic climate control, cruise, and redundant switchgear on the steering wheel. But perhaps the best feature is legitimate room for four adults-five in a pinch.

With DOHC inline-six engines identical to those in their four-door counterparts, and near-equal curb weights, the coupes’ straight-line performance produced no surprises. Both the 2.5-liter/170-horsepower and the 193-horse 2.8 have BMW’s double VANOS variable valve timing system, which helps optimize low- and mid-range torque. When fitted with standard five-speed manual gearboxes, BMW claims these free-revving and silky smooth sixes will deliver 0-60-mph times of just under 8.0 and 7.0 seconds, respectively. Although we preferred the slightly quicker 328Ci, the 323Ci was hardly a slacker. Even paired with the optional five-speed Steptronic autoshifter, both should be eminently capable. As with the sedan, four-wheel discs with ABS provide more than adequate stopping power.

Dynamically, the coupe proved a serious overachiever. With a 50/50 weight balance, standard (albeit switchable) Dynamic Stability Control, and suspension tuning equal to the optional Sport package on sedans, it made short work of our driving route, a challenging two-lane mountain switchback. That effort admittedly was helped by optional 225/45ZR17 front/245ZR17 rear tires in place of the standard 205/55HR16 rubber; but clearly the delightful chassis traits we admire in the 3 Series sedan carry over here intact.

Coupes will begin arriving in the U.S. as you read this story. The 323Ci bases at $28,990, the 328Ci at $33,990, and either should put a smile on the face of any driver worth his stringbacks. Yes, there’s an M version lurking in the not-too-distant future. But until then, these will do nicely, thank you.

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