1997 BMW 3 Series 323i SE 2.5 straight 6 from UK and Ireland
Boring and overpriced
Clutch failed (faulty, not wear and tear)
Dashboard replaced (dials stopped working)
Drivers side rear shock absorber failed.
Stereo stopped working.
Aircon stopped working.
BMW ask a price premium for their cars, and I was happy to pay as I expected superior quality and the legendary BMW driving experience described in the motoring press.
In fact the car had a number of faults, none especially serious, but all irritating. The climate control refusing to blowing cold air was especially annoying. The interior is tragically dull for a supposed luxury car, and the trim around the door handles was wearing through. The glove box rattled and the seats were neither comfortable like those in my rover 400, nor supportive on cornering.
The driving experience fell short of what I expected. The car is quick, but feels reluctant to accelerate, holding you back rather than goading you on. The engine noise is soulless, totally unlike the satisfying muted howl of the V6 in my current car (Mazda). It is well geared for motorway cruising, which should be quiet and relaxing, but instead there is loud tyre roar.
The levels of grip are phenomenal, the car changes direction rapidly, and is well balanced in rapid cornering. The brakes are excellent and the car handles undulations and cornering without pitching or diving. None the less the driving experience is boring, totally lacking in feeling. Competent, but extremely uninspiring.
Overall the car is good, but there is nothing that makes it worth the extra money. If you want a competent car to ferry your family around, get a Rover 600 and save a fortune. If you want a totally reliable car buy a Toyota. If you want a sports car buy a TVR.
If all you want is the BMW badge, buy a 318i coupe and for gods sake stop wearing those white socks!
Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? No
Review Date: 27th April, 2002
20th Nov 2005, 11:59
Rover made such good cars? It's quite a loss that it no longer exists because 'joe public' did not want to buy their products. The only decent car that Rover produced in recent history was the 75. If I'm correct, and I think I may be, this was developed by BMW. I have a 318i and while I agree with your comments regarding the dull interior, you cannot disagree about the high quality materials and solidity of construction.
30th Mar 2008, 11:54
Sounds like you expected a bit much. Being a 97' model and with 80,000 miles, it's far from new now, and wasn't new in 2001 either. Did you not test drive it first?
20th May 2008, 20:38
So my choices are limited to a Toyota sedan or a TVR? One of the prime reasons that makes a BMW a BMW is the fact that it can do both. Sure a TVR is more raw, but could you fit passengers and luggage with you? Better stick with the Toyota (Altezza anyone?) if reliability is your prime concern. Comes close, but you'll likely get the lower-model engine and complain how lacking that one is as well.