BMW AG's segment-defining sport sedans and roadsters are getting a little extra pep, along with a new addition to the family in '01 Uprated, larger-displacement engines are this year's story, as BMW seeks to uphold it's traditional powertrain prominence in the face of some startlingly cheeky competition.

The German automaker's Z3 roadster now more powerful with new engines and, consequently, new names. The 2.3 roadster is one of several models to boast a new 2.5L DOHC inline 6-cyl., raised in displacement and horses over the old 2.5L unit. BMW's finally cleared up the nomenclature thing, too: models carrying a 2.5L engine are billed as such - last year, the 2.5L models were badged 2.3.

So now the 2.5L DOHC I-6 is up 14 hp (184 hp to last year's 170 hp). Meanwhile, the 2.8L variant is bumped to an even 3L for all models and badged 3.0i. They also enjoy a substantial jump in horsepower - from 193 hp to 225 hp. All of the models also are now available with BMW's new 5-speed Steptronic automatic transmission and further wheel choices.

The company's 3-series also benefits from the enhanced-and-enlarged I-6s. BMW also added all-wheel-drive to some of its most popular vehicles - the 325i, 330i and 325i sport wagon. This option positions the 3-series to meet growing demand for the added traction of awd, while maintaining BMW sportiness, says BMW.

Model year '01 also will see the reintroduction of the M3, which has been absent from the range for 2000. The vehicle looks much like the 3-series family with an M front spoiler, rear diffuser and larger wheels. It's equipped with the full-go 3.2L, DOHC, M-treatment I-6 the Europeans got but we didn't. The new M3 delivers a take-no-prisoners 330 hp, which is up from the 240 hp of the previous U.S. M3.

The year also heralds the return of the cult-classic Mini to U.S. shores.

Tom Purves, chairman of BMW of North America, says only 75 dealers - mostly on the coasts and in the Sunbelt - will get the car in the U.S. Mini showrooms must be separate from BMW facilities and have dedicated sales employees. However, back office operations can be consolidated with the BMW business.

Only 10,000 Minis were sold in America between 1960 and 1967, when importation was halted because of new safety and emissions regulations.

If it were OUR money, we wouldn't lay out a big chunk for the Mini franchise: in case you haven't noticed, people are driving things big enough to fit the Mini in their cupholders. But a BMW store remains the no-brainer business of the decade.