Smooth, powerful yet economical 192bhp 6 cylinder engine. Overtaking and climbing steep hills are effortless, and yet the car averages a decent 27 mpg (Imperial) in normal mixed driving conditions. And the engine makes the right noise when revved - which it does happily.
The 5 speed automatic gearbox by and large shifts smoothly although of late, it can occasionally be a bit indecisive and very occasionally it suffers from shunting.
My pre-facelift E46 model's steering is a bit too light and 3.5 turns lock to lock is not sharp enough for me. The facelifted E46 model has an improved sharper steering.
This car has good ride and handling. The handling improved further when I installed the optional M-Technik sports suspension a year after I bought the car, but the ride quality with the said sport suspension can become a tad too firm on poor roads - Malaysian highways are excellent, but normal roads are awful, with huge potholes and horrible bumps.
This car is refined and soothing - perfect for long cruises.
As a person who is taller than 6 feet, I find this car quite spacious front and back.
Build quality is quite good (although the car is assembled in Malaysia and not made in Germany). After 5 years, there are no rattles as yet! The quality of materials used for the trim is within class standards, although some bits of the "soft-touch" (and therefore perceptibly more luxurious) trim didn't take normal day-to-day abuse well over the years.
Maintenance costs, by Malaysian standards, are a bit high, but that's OK as the car gives back a lot of driving pleasure in return.
It is a good sports sedan.