What's New for 2000
For 2000 3 Series coupes, convertibles and wagons are all new; the hatchback has been discontinued. After last year's complete redesign, 2000 sedans see only minor improvements.
BMWs are all about performance. Since the introduction of the 1600-02 in 1966, legions of fans have purchased this Munich-based company's smallest cars in the search for a perfect balance of practicality and power. During the last two decades, the marque has also come to the attention of those looking for prestige. This last group of admirers has had a profound impact on the company's fortunes, making BMW the second-best-selling German manufacturer in the United States.
Things have changed since 1966, though, including the name of BMW's smallest line of cars. Since 1977, BMW has referred to these models as the 3 Series, and for 2000 this lineup of cars is undergoing its fourth major redesign. In typical BMW fashion, the 3 Series lineup is being redesigned at a staggered pace. This means that the first models to change were the sedans in 1999, followed by the coupes, the convertible and all-new wagon, and finally the wicked M3 performance coupe. This allows BMW to extend the life of the design by stretching out introductions over the course of several years. The previous E36 version had been in production since 1992.
Sedan buyers can choose from the 2.5-liter inline six (323 models) or the 2.8-liter inline six (328 models). A five-speed Steptronic automanual transmission is optional this year. Changes to the sedans for the millennium include a new, optional radio-integrated navigation system that is less expensive and less comprehensive than the Onboard Navigation System currently offered by BMW, a climate-control system that automatically switches into recirculation mode when driving through polluted air, and a key memory feature that includes exterior mirror adjustments. Fifteen-inch alloy wheels are now standard on the 323i, and an optional sport-premium package is available.
For the 2000 model year, BMW's coupes steal the spotlight with a complete redesign of their own. Sharing a platform with the 3 Series sedans, the coupes receive a standard five-speed manual transmission, a sport-tuned suspension, and ventilated front and rear disc brakes. Two versions are available: the 323Ci, which has a 2.5-liter inline six that makes 170 horsepower at 5,500 rpm, and the 328Ci with a 2.8-liter inline six making 193 horsepower at 5,500 rpm. Torque output on the 323Ci is 181 foot-pounds at 3,500 rpm. The more powerful 328 coupe reaches 60 from zero in just 6.6 seconds and makes 206 foot-pounds of torque at 3,500 rpm. Both engines meet Low-Emissions Vehicle (LEV) standards. Sixteen-inch alloy wheels are standard on the coupes, but 17-inch alloys can be purchased as an option. A five-speed Steptronic automanual transmission is also optional for those who don't want to shift their own gears.
Safety equipment on both coupes and sedans include All-Season Traction (AST) and Dynamic Stability Control (DSC), along with dual front airbags, door-mounted side airbags and BMW's patented Head Protection System (HPS). Rear side airbags and Xenon headlights are optional.
While many things have changed in the past 20 years, some things -- luckily -- have not. BMW is still recognized as a marque of high quality and affluence. This year, the two- and four-door models available in the manufacturer's 3 Series lineup offer performance and luxury that is likely to win your business, if not your heart