2003 BMW 3 Series 325xi 2.5L I6 from North America


Enjoying every mile


Stereo was hissing and crackling; amplifier, then radio "head unit" were replaced.

Spring gadget for popping fuel door opened stuck in "out" position.

General Comments:

After my beloved 1989 Accord was smashed in August 2002, I started shopping for another car. The newer Accords don't look as nice to me, and the V6s were not available with a manual transmission. So I started shopping non-Hondas.

I was surprised to see that a base BMW 325i was under $30k, and gave one a test-drive.

The handling of the car is absolutely outstanding. The engine note is unobtrusive while cruising, and grin-inducing under acceleration. I look for excuses to take the car for a spin.

The car includes four year / 50,000 mile complete coverage: everything, including oil and windshield wiper changes. So if you're figuring total cost of ownership, for the first four years the maintenance cost is zero.

The bad stuff: the base car is relatively inexpensive, but the options can really add up. And the base car lacks many features you would expect in a luxury car (like metallic paint, leather upholstery, electrically adjusted seats).

The car is slightly small for someone my size (6 foot, 230lbs). The sport seats are just a little narrow for my wide arse, and when the sun visor is swung out against the side window, it's distractingly close to my head.

But those are minor complaints. Overall, I'm very happy with the car. The all-wheel drive has come in handy during foul weather. The 184 hp of the 2.5l engine is sufficient for me, and I don't regret not getting the 3.0l.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 11th June, 2003

16th Sep 2003, 17:33

Update after nine months of ownership. The fuel gauge became inaccurate, and I ran out of gas with the gauge still indicating a quarter of a tank. I managed to get to a gas station, but not to the pump, and had to push my shiny new car the last ten feet. I felt like an idiot. Fixed by the dealer at no charge.

The interior sliding cover for the moonroof broke some part and came off its tracks. Fixed by the dealer at no charge.

The vanity light over the passenger-side visor turns on even when the mirror slide is closed. Part ordered; will be fixed at no charge.

The air conditioning accumulates moisture and creates a medium for growing smelly mold. The dealer cleaned this once at no charge as a "customer courtesy", but if it gets bad again, they won't do it gratis.

Every once in a while, the second press of the "unlock" remote button fails to unlock the passenger doors. Usually re-locking the driver's door and trying again makes it work (and of course the front passenger door can be opened with the key). Dealer could not duplicate the problem.

None of these problems (except the fuel gauge indirectly) interfere with the pleasure of driving the car. The problems are irritating, but I'm still very glad I have the car.

2003 BMW 3 Series 318Ci Convertible 2.0 petrol from Jersey


Superb, practical open-air motoring


Nothing yet.

General Comments:

My first ever new car after 30 years of motoring - well worth waiting for.

The car fully lives up to BMW's claims of superb build quality and excellent ergonomics.

Despite being heavy - the body is heavily reinforced and the convertible weighs some 150kg more than the saloon - the 2 litre engine delivers more than enough power and torque for my driving style, even through the automatic gearbox.

The auto 'box is smooth and well suited to the engine whether using normal or sports mode. I have had little cause to use the manual facility as yet.

A 6500 mile touring holiday in Eastern Europe gave me plenty of scope to try the car out in varying traffic conditions on a wide variety of road surfaces, and I never found it wanting. The optional sports suspension coped well on uneven surfaces, even cobbled streets in Poland.

Being a convertible, rear three-quarter visibility is appalling with the roof up, but the fully automatic powered roof, combined with the powerful heating/climate control and the optional heated seats, mean that roof-down driving is a practical proposition for much of the year - so long as it isn't raining! The optional wind deflector works well at speed making roof-down motorway driving comfortable.

One problem which I have encountered is not a fault with my car, but an apparent design fault. I specified Bi-Xenon headlamps as I do a lot of country driving. There is a procedure in the owner's handbook for switching these lights over from RHD to LHD - unfortunately the procedure doesn't work. My dealers are investigating the problem, but it looks as though the headlights may have to be replaced by the standard units as I intend to do a lot of touring in mainland Europe.

Economy at the moment is reasonable and improving. Over my 6500 mile holiday I averaged 36 miles per imperial gallon, recording over 40 mpg when driving very gently. It was apparent that the fuel consumption improved as the engine bedded in. Driving with the roof down appears to increase the fuel consumption by about 10%

To be fair, these figures are pretty good for a 143 BHP, 2 litre engine in a heavy car - it's just that the BMW figures led me to believe that I would do better.

There is a huge amount of room in the front for the driver and front-seat passenger and the 10-way electrically adjustable seats should accommodate most drivers. I find the seats a bit hard - maybe this is a result of driving Citroens for the preceding 12 years!

There is not a lot of room in the back seats - they're OK for children, but two full sized adults would be fairly cramped. Access to the back seats with the roof up is a bit tortuous (although my 80-year-old Mother has managed it a couple of times).

Similarly the boot is good for a convertible, but still quite small. It can be extended by folding away the roof box when the roof is up; of course, you can't put the roof down in this configuration so I only use the facility to help when loading and unloading the boot.

Finally, I had the misfortune to put the crash-worthiness of the car to the test when I was hit on the left hand door on a French motorway. Despite a heavy impact, the side impact protection worked as advertised, as did the pop-up roll-over bars in the rear-seat headrests which were deployed by the impact. Even better, the impact barely threw the car off line at all and I was able to maintain control with no effort.

In summary, the BMW is exactly what I wanted - a superb car for day-to-day use and for long distance 1-up or 2-up touring; a truly practical convertible and worth every penny.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 26th May, 2003

14th Apr 2004, 10:28

I also have a BMW 318CI Convertible which I acquired from new in April 2003. I have now traveled 11000 miles and I can't say I have enjoyed one single mile in the car. The fuel consumption is abysmal with average consumption being about 27 mpg. Anyone claiming to get better consumption must be doing something completely different to what I am doing.

The drive comfort is poor it shakes, rattles and rolls and I can only say that if this is supposed to be one of the better convertibles I would hate to drive one of the opposition. The auto box changes down at the slightest incline and whilst being smooth does not seem matched to the engine. Give me back my Mercedes any day.

2003 BMW 3 Series 320 TD SE Compact turbo diesel from UK and Ireland


Dear, but so good!


Touch wood, nothing so far. If it does, there is a comprehensive 3 year unlimited mileage warranty as well as 3 yrs free servicing package too.

General Comments:

Combining diesel with an auto gear box? Mad? Uh-uh, far from it.

The car has 150Bhp, huge torque too. Pulls like a tractor on speed! and handles superbly.

Quick positive steering with great feedback, excellent auto box with sport mode and clutch-less manual change for that extra bit of control through the lanes.

Excellent comfort from seats and more room in the back than one would have thought.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 30th January, 2003