What's New for 2002
BMW makes a CD player part of the standard equipment list. No other changes are in store for the 2002 model year.
There has been no lollygagging at BMW's Motorsport division lately; it has been collecting laurels left and right for its utterly divine iterations of some of the best cars in the world, with the M3 coupe and convertible and the god-like M5 inducing the automotive press to stage bare-knuckle fights over who can secure a test-drive for the week.
Last year, BMW installed a massaged 3.2-liter inline six underneath the dome-like bonnet of the M coupe and roadster. Capable of brewing up 315 horsepower at 7,400 rpm, this is an increase of 75 ponies from the previous engine, and provides 251 foot-pounds of pure pin-you-to-the-seat thrust at 4,900 revs. It makes slightly less horsepower than in the M3s because some of the engine components had to be reduced so that it can fit into the engine bay of the smaller Ms.
With lighter intake valves, a higher redline to the tune of 8,000 rpms (the previous M was limited to 6,200 revs) as well as a freer-flowing exhaust outlet, BMW claims that this powerplant will result in a 0-to-60-mph acceleration blast of 5.0 seconds. Yowza. The juice is still delivered via a five-speed manual transmission, although a six-speed would be more suited for this screamer.
Further differentiating between the lesser Z3 and the M roadster are a wider front track, lower ride height, thicker rear semi-trailing arms, sport-tuned bushings and a heavier duty differential to keep those horses reined in. The package rides on MacPherson struts with arc-shaped lower suspension arms and rear semi-trailing arms that have been further stiffened to accommodate the extra power output.
Don't look for this package to coddle the driver, but get the car out onto the open road and prepare to be amazed by the near-telepathic steering and the trees blurring behind you. Even if you get in over your head, BMW's excellent Dynamic Stability System will guide you back onto your intended course.
Standard equipment includes air conditioning, cruise control, leather upholstery, heated seats, power windows and door locks, heated power mirrors, power sports seats, and a Harmon-Kardon stereo. Chrome touches brighten the interior, and aesthetes will be pleased by the two-tone leather treatment.
With stiff competition in the form of the Audi TT quattro, Mercedes-Benz SLK32 AMG, Porsche Boxster S and heck, even the Honda S2000, the topless M's future looks uncertain, especially considering the cannibalizing effect of the Z3 3.0. Plus, you can look to the M3 convertible for more horsepower, greater chassis stability and increased functionality. The coupe, however, remains a staff favorite for its unusual lines and structural rigidity. In any case, performance car enthusiasts will not be disappointed.