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Old 02-25-2012, 11:47 AM
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Finally, a real car.

Replacing the Corsa, here's our latest acquisition. It's a late 2003 BMW 320i Sport (E46, manual).

Firstly, the obligatory:

Is it practical?

Yes. It's a 4-door saloon with good space all round for the size of the car. The only slight downside is that the rear seats don't fold, so bulky items won't fit...but my C4's like a van anyway.

Is it economical?

No. Urban consumption is circa 25 MPG (UK), on mixed journeys you might nudge 30 but driven as it wants to be driven you'll get 20 MPG.

Is it fun to drive?

I wouldn't put-up with the fuel economy if it wasn't. Underneath the saloon body, the car's like a traditional sports car with the inline 6 engine, manual 'box and rear wheel drive.

If you blindfolded someone as they entered the car, and didn't permit them to look behind when moving, they may not know they were driving something with rear seats.

Will it break down all the time?

Hopefully not, although I'm not under any illusions and German cars in reality aren't any more reliable than any other.

Is it easy to park?

It's average, although rear parking sensors are a big bonus. I just need to replace one of the sensors to get them working!

What if I go to a Shopping Centre and get chased by baddies in a Corvette?

In that case, I hope you've left an assault rifle on the rear seats!

Is it green?

Compared to other six-cylinder petrols of the same age, yes. Compared to no diesels? don't be silly.

Can I afford it?

Probably. Used prices are now at levels that make them affordable for the majority. There's a 3'er for almost everyone, too.

What If I'm asked to take part in a beach assault with the Royal Marines?

Leave the car on the landing craft.

It's Metallic Mystic Blue with a black alcantara interior. It's in great condition with low mileage and I'm loving it so far, although there are a couple of things that need addressing, namely the airbag light is on and there's a fault with the rear parking sensors. Some TLC should bring this car to near perfect, and we got it cheap compared to some of the others we saw.

The engine is an absolute delight. Yes, it's not the fastest with 0-60 in circa 8 seconds and 140mph flat out, but it's how a car feels, not numbers, that make you want to take the long route home after a busy day at work.

The steering feel is excellent and certainly amongst the best out of any car I've sampled and the RWD drivetrain gives the car great balance and poise. It wants to be driven, but not over potholes - the sports suspension and 18" wheels with low profile tyres mean that big bumps can jolt the car around.

That's not to say it doesn't cruise well, a comfortable motorway companion. The engine is very smooth and refined and the seats are supportive, with good adjustability and extending thigh supports. Front and rear armrests are a nice bonus, whilst cruise control and a generous space to rest your left foot help.

The only fly in the ointment is that the stereo shows the car's age. - It packs a tape deck, with a 6 CD autochanger in the boot. I will be replacing this with a similar head unit to what I have in the C4, giving full iPod functionality.

Overall though, a bargain for not a lot of money. You could spend multiples of the cost of this car and get a lot worse.
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Last edited by Clivey; 02-25-2012 at 12:07 PM.
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Old 02-25-2012, 06:20 PM
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Great review. Car looks like it was a great buy.
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Old 02-25-2012, 11:10 PM
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Looks great! Been considering getting an E46 3 series as my first, so let me know how she holds up
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Old 02-26-2012, 01:34 AM
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how do the insurance companies in the UK treat such a car? as a civilised one or as a boy racer tool?
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Old 02-26-2012, 02:44 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by henk4 View Post
how do the insurance companies in the UK treat such a car? as a civilised one or as a boy racer tool?
In terms of the insurance premium, the price is higher than it would be for a C5 / Mondeo / Vectra but lower than hot hatches (I imagine it's simlar to what you'd pay to insure a C4 VTS 180) - pretty much in keeping with the performance to be honest.

I like the Jeckyll & Hide character of this car - when you just want to relax, it'll trickle along smoothly and quietly in a high gear but it's also entertaining when you're in the mood. I see it as a sort of baby grand tourer with rear doors. I would have preferred a 330Ci Coupé, but the budget couldn't stretch that far this time.
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Old 02-26-2012, 03:01 AM
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Nice rims. Rims do a lot for the 3-series. My partner's E36 wouldn't be the same without its delicious E46 rims.
You could be stuck with these. Or these.
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Old 02-26-2012, 03:17 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TVR IS KING View Post
Nice rims. Rims do a lot for the 3-series. My partner's E36 wouldn't be the same without its delicious E46 rims.
You could be stuck with these. Or these.
They are nice, though I can't help but wonder if the car would be better on 17"s rather than 18"s with a higher profile tyre to absorb more of the bumps. I don't know what it'd do to the front-end grip, though. I was thinking of something like the BMW Style 68 Wheel below.

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Old 02-26-2012, 01:37 PM
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Nice. Now you have a BMW are you only going to buy other BMW's like a true BMW fan.
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Old 02-26-2012, 02:50 PM
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Originally Posted by thebrochureman View Post
Nice. Now you have a BMW are you only going to buy other BMW's like a true BMW fan.
Oh, I don't know about that - If someone wants to swap for a 370Z or Jag XKR I wouldn't refuse...!
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Old 02-26-2012, 03:13 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by thebrochureman View Post
Nice. Now you have a BMW are you only going to buy other BMW's like a true BMW fan.

And become a cock to quote Mr. Clarkson
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Old 02-27-2012, 10:53 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Clivey View Post
Oh, I don't know about that - If someone wants to swap for a 370Z or Jag XKR I wouldn't refuse...!
Are you a big BMW fan or did you just find this one at a good price which look good and has good spec.
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Old 02-27-2012, 11:02 AM
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And become a cock to quote Mr. Clarkson
Pretty sure that was Audi drivers.
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Old 02-27-2012, 11:04 AM
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Congrats on the car, been thinking of picking up one in the next couple months too. Let me know what you think after having it for a while.
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Old 02-27-2012, 11:19 AM
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Pretty sure that was Audi drivers.
Thats what i though, they used to be BMW drivers.
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Old 02-27-2012, 11:46 AM
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Clivey Clivey is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bmwpower View Post
Congrats on the car, been thinking of picking up one in the next couple months too. Let me know what you think after having it for a while.
Will do - I plan to use this thread as a blog regarding the car. We've had it for one month and covered 1,100-ish miles so far.

Quote:
Originally Posted by thebrochureman View Post
Thats what i though, they used to be BMW drivers.
Rule number one: Don't let other people dictate what you drive. Are all Nissan GTRs driven by ricers, or all Corvettes by rednecks?

But yes; the knob car of choice in the UK has generally moved on to diesel Audis (specifically in S-line trim but with 140ps diesels shared with the VW Golf that can't carry off the styling). You know the ones as they typically add extra 'S-Line' badges in places the standard car wouldn't have them, and fit "look at me" badly-fitted aftermarket LED DRLs if they couldn't afford the factory option.

I certainly won't be fitting any 'M' badges to mine. It's not a BMW Motorsport car, and I'm not "knobbish" enough to pretend that it is.
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