1996 BMW 3 Series 323i 2.5 straight six petrol w single VANOS


Cheap and fun performance


Water pump broke at 240000 km.

One ABS-sensor broke.

Brake disks worn out.

Radiator cracked at 290000 km.

Back suspension spring broken in both ends at 330000 km.

Back suspension dampers worn out at 240000 km.

And that's all. Incredible.

General Comments:

The European version is has its performance figures understated from BMW, guess they wanted people to buy the 328i instead. (And that probably why it's called 323i, although it's a 2.5l engine.)

BMW says 170hp and 0-100 kmh in 8.0 seconds. My own measurements indicate slightly above 180hp and 0-100 in around 7.1 seconds.

By far the most reliable and fun car I've owned. The previous owner even rang me up a couple of years later to ask if I wanted to sell it. His BMW 323i E46 (the next model) had a lot of faults. I must say I drive like a mad thief most of the time, and it's fantastic that almost nothing broke on it in all those years.

Cons: Hard to fit a stroller in the boot. That's why I had to sell it. Rust resistance is slightly below average. If equipped with anti spin, then it's a quite good car on snow, but it's a bit too "fun" if doesn't have that option. Insurance expensive here where I live.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 1st September, 2010

2nd Sep 2010, 08:02

The 323i uses the smaller manifold off the 2 litre version I believe. Same with the 328i. Fit the 325i manifold to a 323i badged car and it will then produce the same power as a 325i. After all, it is the same engine. Do the same mod to a 328i and you will see a power increase from 190bhp to 220bhp (ish). All the info is on the BMW forums for those interested.

10th Apr 2011, 17:20

The 323 engine and 325 engine are not the same. The 323 and 328 are M52 engines, alloy block with steel liners, the 325 is an all steel block. The M52 replaced the M50, the 323 and 328 both replaced the 325, the engines are more efficient, and the 2.93 diff ratio offered better economy than the 3.15 as fitted to the 325.

I've owned all... Trust me.

1996 BMW 3 Series 318i Touring 1.8L


A good daily driver


Oil-leak not long after we got it.

A wire to the starter motor fell apart recently.

Some plastic parts in the trunk are "broken".

Driver's seat is torn up - (but the car is 13 years old).

General Comments:

The car is reliable, except for an oil leak a couple of years ago and a wire to the starter motor that fell apart, the car goes like a charm with regular service (oil, filters, spark plugs).

The E36 touring version is roomier, obviously, than the sedan, and handles just as great as the sedan on the road. It is a good daily driver that gets the job done, but if you are going on a road trip you might want to bring ear plugs.

- A bit noisy at higher speeds, and the engine is rather noisy in general too.

- Bad gas mileage for a 4-cylinder.

- Seats are not that comfortable.

- Lousy trunk space for the size of the car.

- Starting to rust bad at the "edges" of the doors.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 5th June, 2010

6th Jun 2010, 06:40

I am the author of the review, just want to say that the MODEL YEAR is a 1997. It was however BUILT in 1996, but counts as a 1997.

12th Jul 2011, 07:59

Update 7/12-11.

Failed emission test three times. Changed the catalyzer to a new one, a bit better, but not enough, oil/filter changed not long ago, warmed up and 20% ethanol, but stills fails.

I've spent around 24000SEK on this car this year, including all 4 shock absorbers. This has got nothing to do with the emissions of course, but is just one of the expensive things that has been changed in a short period.

And it runs bad; runs jerky, fails to start sometimes, and the engine stops running after refueling for a couple of minutes, then it runs again like nothing happened.

One more try to go, if it fails again I will sell this car for nothing or scrap it.

I'm tired of spending a lot of money to keep this thing going.

1995 BMW 3 Series 328Ci 2.8 Six cylinders


Drivers machine


One rear wheel bearing failed at 9000 km

(warranty repair).

Clutch failed at 9000 km due to oil leak (warranty repair).

Catalytic converter heat-shield loosen at 9000 km, making a rattling noise at idle.

AC compressor bearing failed at 9500 km, the whole compressor replaced (warranty repair)

Note: The compressor worked fine, it was just a small noise - it would probably have worked for a couple of years more. But the dealer replaced it anyway =)

General Comments:

Very nice engine! No problem to drive at high gears at slow speed. Very quick when pressing high RPM:s =)

Good looking car, very nice interior!!

Nice handling windy roads (if it is good), very fun to drive!

Fuel consumption is no big issue if it is driven moderate, but it sure is when driven hard! I normally get away with about 8,5l/100km...

Pretty stiff suspension, is a little "bumpy" on bad roads (I have 17" wheels and 225/45 tires, I suppose it would be much more comfortable if I had had 15" or 16" wheels...). It can also be a bit instable on bad roads, it may be time to replace the shock absorber...

Not very quiet, pretty much noice from the tires.

Not the cheapest car to own, assurance and service are pretty expensive - but I don't think it's more expensive compared to other cars with the same performance and qualites!

"Vandal magnet" - got it scratched once!


Don't by this car if your highest priority is comfort (or economy) - by it if you like to drive!

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 7th June, 2002