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Photos: 2008 BMW M3 Convertible

The 2008 BMW M3 Convertible delivers an exceptional driving experience, especially with the double-clutch transmission, and cabin tech is first rate, but options quickly jack up the base price.

CNET Reviews staff

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When BMW announced the newest M3 Coupe last year, it quickly followed with this retractable hardtop version. Where the Coupe has a carbon fiber roof, the retractable hardtop mechanism adds significant weight--441 pounds.
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As the sport version of BMW's 3-series, the M3 gets a few performance design touches, such as a big air intake below the grille and a hood bulge, needed for the M3's larger engine.
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The M3's 4-liter V-8 is an impressive piece of work, putting out 414 horsepower at 8,300rpm and 295 foot-pounds of torque at 3,900rpm, plenty to get the car moving fast off the line.
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Although sports car aficionados might object to the convertible top, it does let you hear the engine better. But the top does add weight, and when down stows in the trunk, shifting the car's balance toward the rear.
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With the top up, the M3 Convertible has a similar roofline to the Coupe, and occupants are well-protected from the elements.
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The M3 can be had with optional electronic damping control, which lets you set the suspension between three modes, comfort, normal, and sport. Normal adjusts for the current type of driving.
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The M3 gets 18-inch wheels and low profile performance tires. The fender vent is crossed by an M badge.
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Leather seating is standard, as are the power adjustable front seats. The rear seat is big enough for most people.
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Our M3 Convertible came with few cabin tech options. If navigation was present, the car would have an LCD on the top of the instrument panel.
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The steering wheel has paddle shifters for the double-clutch transmission, along with audio controls on the spokes.
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The tach gauge has a movable redline, which changes as the engine warms up.
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Our test car came with the optional double-clutch transmission, a manual transmission with two computer-operated clutches. It still drives like a manual, but you don't have to press a clutch.
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The Power button is standard for the M3, and sharpens throttle response, while the EDC buttons, for the electronic damping control, are an option. The button behind the shifter changes the transmission program.
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The standard stereo has few audio sources, with just an auxiliary input, radio, and single CD player. But it can read MP3 CDs.
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The auxiliary input is in the console. iPod integration is available as an option.
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This car had the base audio system, which was good, but not overwhelming.
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The versatile radio display also shows a trip computer.

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