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.

2001 BMW 3 Series 325i 2.5 from North America


Best compact car in the world!


Sun roof headliner sometimes gets stuck back when opening sunroof. A manufacturer design fault.

General Comments:

Best car I have ever owned, and this is no. 19.

Handles brilliantly, suspension is not too hard or soft, BMW seriously got it right this time!

The standard wheels with low profile tires help the BMW hug the road when cornering at speed.

The standard leather interior looks brand new, even after 65000 miles.

The seats are super comfortable, and it seems that the whole interior fits the driver like a glove.

Engine has a lot of torque for a 2.5 and really pulls when accelerating, especially on the freeway.

The overall design of the car is awesome, there are not many cars out there these days that really are good looking, most cars just look like plastic pieces of...

The doors make a nice clean thump, when closed. You really feel like your in a safe car when you open the doors and get in.

Biggest complaints, which are pretty minor, are that the stereo is fairly plain compared with other brands, and the sunroof issues.

Basically I have owned 19 cars in the last 10 years and this car really stands out as being the best! Build quality, looks, performance, economy, it just beats every other car in its class. No wonder it was a Consumer Report top 10 car every year made.

Well done BMW!!

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 26th May, 2009

27th May 2009, 17:57

Yes, the E46 generation of 3 series is really a delight and one of the best (if not the best) BMW ever made.

Drives very well, solidly built and quite reliable (though every car will have its foibles, regardless of make).

What a shame they replaced it with the E90 3 series, which is plug ugly even after its facelift and has a cheaper looking and feeling interior, even though it still maintains the BMW driving feel.

29th Aug 2013, 17:03

Couldn't agree with you more. I've had mine for a few months now and it's a joy to drive. Every time I look at it, I can't believe I own it!

I changed the tranny oil myself, even though BMW say it's a lifetime thing. Rubbish! Changes through the gears more smoothly now. Also replaced the fuel filter and rear diff oil.

Drove it on vacation recently for over 2000kms without any problems whatsoever. It's a tank and built to be driven hard. I'm not sure I'd ever sell it... Well... maybe for a 5 Series. I'm a big guy so that might suit me better. We'll see.