The BMW E82/E88 1 Series arrived in North America in 2008, essentially a pint sized 3 Series and offered in the spirit of the venerable 1600/2002. It was still much too heavy and expensive to really be earth-shattering, but it rolled back the size/weight creep of the 3 Series and reminds us of a modern styled E36, high praise indeed from E36 fan
boys such as this author. Stats-focused bench racers will tell you to get the twin turbocharged 135i version in hardtop form, but if simple commuting and a few fun back road blasts are your heart’s desires…you may want to consider the 128i version with a soft top (E88 in Bimmerspeak). Find this 2008 BMW 128i convertible 6-spd for sale in Royal Oak, MI currently bidding on ebay for $15,950 with less than 1 day to go.
No one is going to argue that the 128i is faster than the 135i, however, the N52’s (128i) naturally aspirated exhaust note is much sweeter than the turbo muffled growl from the N54 (135i). The 3.0 liter inline-6 makes 230 horsepower and 200 ft-lbs of torque from its magnesium alloy block. Magnesium is an ultra lightweight alloy, but it lacks some of the material properties necessary for long engine life, so BMW incorporated a novel pressed aluminum insert to handle the higher load/heat sections of the engine.
|Image from mwerks.com|
According to this fantastically detailed article on mwerks.com, the N52 incorporated a number of weight & fuel saving tricks, including an electric water pump, hollow hydroformed steel camshafts and variable rate oil pump. The extreme focus on mass reduction gives the 128i convertible a curb weight of 3450 lbs, a considerable achievement considering the mass creep in recent years. Performance tests record the 128i 0-60mph of 5.7 seconds, or just a few tenths slower than an E36 M3. Not record breaking, but hardly a slow boat and all the while singing that classic BMW i-six song from its solitary tailpipe. Put the top down and enjoy the music.
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