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      04-25-2007, 05:00 PM   #35
ZweierCoupe
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The devil is in the details

This car really should have been introduced two years ago. Back in the spring of 2005 there was already a small buzz about the announced two-door version of the 1-series, and I was even wondering if BMW was going to introduce it at the Frankfurt auto show that year, where it would have taken away some of the attention being focused on the introduction of the spectacular Porsche Cayman S, the latest generation Mercedes S-Class, and the Audi Q7 SUV. Instead, all BMW had to offer in terms of novelty at that show was the concept version of the Z4 coupé, the subsequent implementation of which certainly hasn't been selling briskly.

In light of the long delay -- perhaps to get all the details just right for a change (which definitely wasn't the case with the butt-ugly rear trunk of the 7 series or the tacky Dame Edna headlights of the 5 series or the sagging donkey look of the initial 5-door 1-series) and also allow the prior introduction of the now already oversized and overweight two-door 3-series coupés and cabrios to create a huge market gap, to then be filled with the type of vehicle that catapulted BMW to prominence in the first place -- expectations are extremely high among car enthusiasts. In light of all the pre-release teaser marketing hype surrounding this car, anything short of a true breakthrough sensation might be regarded as somewhat of a disapointment. And that includes setting the price too high.

The sports version of the new coupé should at least feature 18" wheels, standard bi-xenon lights, lightweight Recaro-style one-piece shell seats, chrome exhaust tips, and a high quality interior more like what one gets with Audi and Porsche vehicles. There ought to also be a sport button, for a stiff suspension and lower stance. If wood paneling is even an option, it should at least be blonde, not the heavy brown wood one gets with executive sedans. Also, the front hood and some chassis parts should use aluminum to keep the overall weight under 1300 kg. With the normally aspirated 3 liter engine, the car should not take more than 500 seconds around the north loop of the Nürburgring when driven by BMW's test drivers. A live video of this kind of performance, available for download on the Internet, is what I'd like to see to convince me to stop thinking about a used Cayman S at roughly the same price point.