2005 BMW 3 Series 320i 2.0L inline 4 cylinder from Australia and New Zealand

Summary:

A basic car, which looks good and is reasonably cheap to run

Faults:

Oil leak from the gasket. Transmission shift was rough.

General Comments:

My 320i E90 BMW was an import from Japan, and it was German built.

It came to NZ in 2012, and I was the first NZ owner. It had 98000km on it when bought, and I wasn't surprised with an oil leak. Import grade was 4.5 out of 5, so it was very solid looking otherwise.

I have read few reviews, and saw people complaining about 320i being underpowered, which is true, but you buy this model knowing that you are aiming for the most basic car that the BMW 3 series produced. Hence I wasn't unhappy with the performance.

Fuel economy was great on open road (7L to 100km), and 11-12 litres around town, which is not too bad, but since I drive every week from Rotorua to Auckland and back (500km open road + 200 km city), open road economy was more important.

This model handles and drives great. I have owned 7 BMW’s over last 13 years, and I can only compare this with my 320i E36 sedan (1993), E36 325ci (1996 coupe), E46 sedan (1999) and E46 325ci (2000 coupe 2.5 litre).

Among all the 2 litre 3 Series I had, this is much nicer to drive, has improved handling, more cabin space, and a better front view. The rear view is poor, due to having a high headrest on the back seats and a smaller window. You do get a bit of road noise, but it’s slightly better than the E46, and lot better than an E36.

Performance wise, it can’t be compared with any other 6 cylinder 3 series model, full stop. But it does have more pull compared to previous models. Has enough power to cruise along open roads, so am happy.

Mine is in black with run flat tyres (saves the hassle from changing tyres when flat, but very expensive to replace when the treads are low). Mine came with auto headlights and an auto wiper, which works great.

What all the BMW owners need to be careful of, is that there is some rumour about BMW transmission fluid not needing changing, which is not true. Since mine was changing rough when bought – I did an auto transmission fluid change (it’s expensive – cost me about 1200 NZD), but now it drives heaps better than it was. I would have to do that one more time, as I did mine at 113k, hence the oil was extremely dirty and thick. Do make sure that it’s done by a proper garage where they know how do them. I was disappointed by BMW service, so ended up going to a Volvo garage, who did excellent job.

Otherwise, these engines are known to be bullet proof. The transmission of BMW’s has always been an issue, but I would assume the reason behind it could be people thinking they do not need any fluid change.

Overall, I'm happy so far, and it's very basic compared to the E60 5 series I had. Not many complicated computer issues.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 6th June, 2012

14th Jun 2012, 04:32

These engines do suffer from their share of problems. Injectors and ignition coils are notoriously unreliable. My 318i (same engine, detuned slightly) needed three replacement coils in its first 40,000 miles.

1st Jul 2012, 06:40

Yeah, I agree with you mate. But if you get a NZ new one, they seem to last better with less issues. It might be more to do with how the car is generally maintained overseas compared to NZ.

15th Feb 2013, 08:25

The road noise could be coming from your run flats; they have a reputation for being a bit rough.

15th Feb 2013, 08:27

I agree with the transmission fluid changes, I never believe that a transmission never needs fluid changed, and usually just flush them through the cooler lines.

2005 BMW 3 Series 330xi 3.0 I6 from North America

Summary:

This is the quintessential sport sedan for a reason

Faults:

Nothing major to report so far, just trivial little stuff:

- One xenon headlight had to be replaced.

- Rear seat squeaks (common problem?)

- Passenger side door takes a couple tries to unlock.

General Comments:

This car is amazingly planted and firm; I prefer a car with a lot of character and steering feel, and this definitely does not disappoint. The ride is pretty forgiving; it can get choppy over really bad roads, but for the most part it is comfortable (I have low-pro's too).

Car handles wonderfully, feels RWD for the most part, AWD system makes it an all weather warrior. Initial turn-in is great, steering feedback is amazing, and the brakes are incredibly solid and refuse to fade. DSC isn't really intrusive.

It isn't crazy fast, but the speed comes effortlessly and acceleration is relentless. I'm constantly surprised by how fast I'm actually going :P.

However, the rear seats are pretty cramped. The front seats are great, but even shorter drivers really cut into rear leg room. LOTS of brake dust. Could use more torque in the lower revs. but that can be compensated for by driving Steptronic. The XI models have a bit more clearance than the RWD cars, but I wouldn't drive it in more than a few cm's of snow.

As with all BMW's, dealer charges are really expensive for servicing. Options are really pricey.

Overall, this car is a great driver's machine that doesn't sacrifice all practicality for sheer driving pleasure. Got a good used one for a great deal, never looked back.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 1st December, 2010