1994 BMW 3 Series 320iSE 2.0 straight six petrol from UK and Ireland


Lovely car with disappointing quality and economy


Drivers electric window fell out of its guides, dropped into the door and shattered.

Paintwork marked ridiculously easily and looked very second hand after just a couple of years.

Interior quality not up to expected standard - quite a lot of rattles and squeaks, and dash looked cheap and nasty.

Drank fuel - apparently they all do, but 23 mpg for a car of this size and relatively modest performance?? Come on!

General Comments:

A pretty good car. Revvy and silky smooth 2.0 six sounds wonderful, and provides decent performance. Lacks torque low down though, and needs to be thrashed to get the best out of it. Perhaps this is why I found it unacceptably thirsty. Even on long motorway runs and staying under 80 mph, it would never better 29 mpg average, and you could knock 5-7 mpg off this around town. If the 320 is this thirsty, what is the 328 like??

Handling superb. A bit on the soft side, but beautifully balanced, and extremely well behaved for a 150 bhp rear drive car. Steering and gearbox both nicely weighted and felt good to use. The car could be provoked out of shape, especially with too much throttle in the wet, but it was quite difficult to get into trouble with unconsciously. BMW should be applauded for sticking with rear-drive as it is superior to front drive in all respects.

The car had a good driving position with clear instruments, but fiddly fuel computer and cheap looking, and - towards the end - creaky dash were disappointing in such an expensive car. Various minor build quality and trim niggles were also unacceptable in a car of this price, and seemed at odds with the first class mechanicals and the general quality of the engineering elsewhere in the car. I can't honestly say the interior quality was significantly better than my previous Peugeot 405.

A decent, fun to drive and, interior apart, beautifully engineered sports saloon though, and very affordable these days. My company recently sold off a clean 110,000 miler for just £3000 - for a second, I was actually tempted. But that fuel consumption with fuel prices nudging 80p a litre would be just too much for the performance on offer. 60 miles per £10 of fuel for just 150 bhp? No ta!

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 8th January, 2003

13th Sep 2005, 07:17

Yes, but it's still only 150 bhp.

3rd Oct 2005, 03:54

Thanks for the comments all.

Yes, I know it's silky smooth and makes a fantastic noise, but it just isn't quick enough for this kind of fuel consumption to be acceptable. Don't get me wrong, it's no slug, but no quicker than most 2.0 repmobiles either. Most cars will get into the 30's mpg on a motorway cruise, but this wouldn't.

Even despite the poor build quality and thirst, I still liked the car, but these E36 320i's are now pretty average in the scheme of things. At least they're cheap these days, however. This might sweeten the pill a tad.

1994 BMW 3 Series 325i coupe 2.5L from Australia and New Zealand


Smooth, quiet and supremely swift, a car for all occasions


Rear left hand wheel bearing.

Drivers power window motor was erroneous in operation and subsequently replaced.

All the above were replaced under the BMW approved used car warranty.

I also managed to get a hole in the A/C condenser, although that was not the fault of the car, more a stray rock on the road.

That is all in just over 3 years.

General Comments:

Where do I start!! This is the most amazing car I have owned. The smoothness and refinement of this car, especially for its age, is nothing short of impressive. The only thing that detracts from the experience is the tyre roar of the Continental 225/50 16 tyres. When on smooth bitumen though, rare in Australia, it is very quiet. There is not even any wind noise at the legal limit from the pillarless windows.

The leather sports seats are comfortable with a wide range of adjustment. All the seats lack is lumbar adjustment. However the tiller is not lined up with the centre of the seat. That combined with the large transmission tunnel and off centre pedals does skew the body a bit making it difficult to align the body comfortably. It is only really a problem on a long trip.

The performance from the 2.5L straight six is fantastic for the size of the engine. The model I have is VANOS equipped which boosts torque at lower revs, which the earlier versions were noted as lacking. Any gear at any speed it pulls smoothly and quickly, especially once revs build.

When it comes time to fill it up with fuel, it also impressive with its frugal economy. On long trips sitting on 110km/h with the car loaded and A/C on I average about 7.3 L/100km. Around town it averages between 8.2 and 9.0 L/100km depending on how heavy your right foot is!

Ride and handling is where this car excels. When cornering hard the body roll is very well controlled. The car seems to mold around you when you start cornering enthusiastically and gets better the harder you push it. The M-Tech suspension, when it finally gets to the very high limits, lets you know very gently when you are nearing the point of no return. It gradually push wide, then the rear starts to drift a little too. Nothing drastic, just a gentle transition into a nice drift that is very easy to correct such is the balance of the car. With such handling you would think that it is not the best riding car around. That could not be any further from the truth. It is surprisingly compliant, especially on the ridiculously rough Australian roads. A car that handles so well has no right to ride so smoothly. You can have your cake and eat it too!!

If this is the 'poor mans M3', then the real M3 must the the Ultimate performance car as the 325 Coupe is a pretty amazing piece of kit. Fast, practical and very easy to live with day in, day out.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 30th November, 2002

10th Feb 2003, 03:52

I agree with the review: the '94 BMW 325i is an exceptional car! The E36 is still a lovely shape - even compared to the newer E46. The car definitely wants to be driven on the open roads. Especially here in South Africa, overtaking slower traffic is no problem. I'm amazed at the smoothness of this car's handling.

A note on mileage: my car has 230000 km on the clock. There has been NO major flaws or break-downs, apart from the driver side electric window that failed recently. Will need to replace the exhaust in the near future, though. Also considering to get a lower-profile tire to improve handling.