Vince Pornelos / Vince Pornelos | June 24, 2008 00:00
Destination: AnywhereWhat a joy to drive.
There, I said it. End of story.
But seriously, the 325i Coupe is a shining example of what BMW is all about. Everything is geared for the drive. The 3-series sedan was already a thrilling car, yet the boys from Bayern thought it prudent to kick it up a notch for the 3-series coupe.
Strange, but the 325i Coupe, with two less doors, is actually 60mm longer than the Sedan, though the car is slimmer and sits lower than its four door brother. The look has significantly changed too, with sharper eyes and more rounded taillamps. Of course, BMW's fingerprints are there: the Hofmeister kink, the twin nostrils and, as per BMW, rear-wheel drive.
She's meant to be enjoyed, meant to be savored on a nice patch of highway. Stretch the 325i's magnificent legs, producing a combined 218 hp, and you'll hit 240km/h on the Autobahn (or local equivalent). And with that inline six singing gloriously to its redline, the prod of the throttle is a difficult temptation to resist. At high speed there's no lift, just smooth cruising or blasting down the highway.
There are three modes for Steptronic's power delivery. "D" for conservative, fully automated shifts. Slot the knob to the left and you'll get "DS" to allow it to linger a little longer in the current gear for more acceleration. Yank it and you'll activate magic known as Steptronic, blipping for you should you wish to get frisky in the corners. Trust me, you will.
Turning in the 325i Coupe inspires awe. Same goes for steering feedback. The suspension suppresses as much body roll and lean as possible, working in unison with the wide run-flat Bridgestones to keep as much rubber on the ground… and carry as much speed in the turns. Of course, Munich won't send their beloved customers to daunting switchbacks without a safety net; hence, DSC (Dynamic Stability Control) and DTC (Dynamic Traction Control) are ready and willing, kicking in when it senses its pilot exceeded his or her own limits.
Painstaking craftsmanship and ergonomic engineering have created such a focused car. It shows in the details. The steering wheel is superbly contoured and so natural to the hands and, as a testament to BMW's attention to the drive, even the buttons on the steering wheel require a bit more force to push compared to the console buttons to prevent accidentally (and annoyingly) pressing them on a spirited route. The cruise control is one of the easiest, and most user-friendly, I've ever laid fingers on. Seating is so BMW: well bolstered as opposed to maximum plushness.
It is so sublimely geared at going fast and cornering well that you'll forgive the stiffer nature of the suspension (all the better to attack corners with), the plainness of the cabin's colors (all the more to focus on the road), the rather basic entertainment system (to better hear the aural inline-6), and the lack of novelties beyond a Engine Start/Stop button (to keep your hands on the steering wheel). She even offers the driver and passenger the seatbelt (why, thank you). Such is BMW's dedication to sheer driving pleasure, as opposed to sheer riding pleasure.
The 3-series coupe is so BMW: an irresistible driving proposition. You'll want to lace up those new driving shoes, chug a bottle of Red Bull, press the start button and go for a drive.
Where to? Doesn't matter.