2001 BMW 3 Series 318i Touring 1.8 I4 petrol from Australia and New Zealand


Care for it and reap its spectacular rewards


Three days after we bought the car the coolant light came on, went to my mechanic and it was found all hoses were damaged by some sort of cleaning product where the hoses were soft and splitting. Six hoses replaced (probably not a BMW issue, but previous owner or country conditions). $1300 NZD.

Spark plugs and rocker cover gasket at 67000 kms. $870 NZD. Following this, one of the spark plug ignition coils went, so genuine part to replace. $250 NZD.

The car had an oil leak which is an ongoing problem. It used to leak onto the exhaust which would heat then smell out the cabin. This has been resolved, but I still get oil drops on the garage floor. $300 for work on this so far.

Side skirting panels all had lifted and created gaps. $200 panel-beating.

There must be a coolant leak somewhere because every now and then I have to top this up.

Currently there is a burnt petrol smell sometimes in the cabin. Possibly a leak in the exhaust system.

The car has red paint. I have been told that it is the worst colour for oxidisation, hence why pant has faded along bonnet and roof. Quoted around $700 NZD for a paint job.

Service every 10,000 kms costs $250 NZD.

General Comments:

The three best things about this car are its looks, its performance from a small engine and its handling. The looks is the overriding reason as to why we bought the car, it looks amazing. It is an M spec model (body kit not engine) and has been lowered on M springs and has 19" M alloys. The car constantly gets comments about how beautiful it is.

The one thing I love about this car is the handling. It truly does feel as if it is on rails, it never has any roll and corners so perfectly and tightly. This is due to the excellent M springs. There is a windy uphill road in New Zealand over the Kaimai ranges and one day I was travelling over this and racing with a V8 Holden Monaro, which clearly had more pace than my 318, but the handling allowed me to zoom around corners and handle better than the other car. I had so much fun that day.

The performance from the small 1.8 engine is very good. If the right gear is in use, the car pulls off very nicely and is surprisingly quick. The fuel economy around town is alright at 11 l/100kms. But on a long trip I achieved 750 kms on one tank (55l) which is 7.3 l/100kms.

The cabin is good with tan leather seats and wood finish. There is bad wear on the cup holders where the plastic is broken and tan colour has chipped off. The steering wheel is a little worn too. Otherwise there is no wear on the seats or other cabin items.

After buying this car we were a little upset that we had to do so much work on it. Basically, as this was the first used car we had bought privately we did get it tested, but they did not comment on the hose issues. We realised that the previous owners had not looked after it very well and we needed to spend some money to get it up to scratch. We considered that $16,000 NZD for a car of this rarity (colour, leather, engine size, M kit, looks) was not too bad.

Overall we love this car, it feels pretty cool driving it as it turns heads, drives amazingly and is perfectly balanced - a true example of why a BMW must be cared for, because the brilliant engineering of the car beneath it must be respected.

I love this car.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 11th September, 2010

2001 BMW 3 Series 320ci 2.3L 6 cylinder from Australia and New Zealand


Bad example of a very well designed car


I bought a bad example (problems surfaced much later), so this is not representative of all BMW 320ci's:

The BAD:

2nd gear synchro would occasionally go (once every 1000kms or so), which would embarrassingly see me crunch my gears (for two months I had started to think that perhaps I lost my ability to drive a manual until I got myself another car).

The clutch has this RIDICULOUS "Clutch Delay Valve" made for people who are so smooth at using a clutch to smooth out the engagement. This, however, has the opposite effect if you are a smooth clutch engager. Fortunately, it is something you can remove and this improves things greatly.

My engine was burning 5L of oil a month or every 2500kms. Rings were on their way out - but the car did not blow any visible smoke...

Main pulley bearing was on its way out (not unreasonable for 175000kms).

Plastic radiator side tanks were leaking (can't expect too much for a radiator of this age).

Leather seats would wear fairly easily on the drivers door side.

Coupe doors are damn heavy when parked up a hill - it should have some stronger intermediate stoppers to help it prop open for a car of this class.

Handling was not as good as what I would have expected - steering is somewhat unresponsive, and the car did not feel as flat as I would have expected from a BMW (perhaps my shocks were on their way out).

General Comments:

Beautiful car. Very nicely put together. Beautiful interior. Nice range of colours in the range. Excellent materials, excellent design. Good thickness metal in the bodywork.

Engine (although only a 2.3L six) has a beautiful note - so smooth and deep.

Fuel economy was 7.5L/100km for intra/inter-suburban driving. Perhaps the fact that my particular car was an oil burner may have helped.

I would buy a better example in future if the opportunity presents itself.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 27th March, 2010

7th Apr 2010, 00:17

It sounds like you bought a car that had not been serviced in over 100,000 klms. It happens, but don't blame the car.