2006 BMW 3 Series 325 Coupe 2.5 inline 6 cylinder from Australia and New Zealand

Summary:

Solid, reliable, classy & safe

Faults:

Nothing.

General Comments:

Bought a NZ NEW vehicle from a dealer who got it traded in from an elderly person (owned since new). Came with a full service history and is in a very good nick.

I have owned the following similar models (older generations), so my review is based on similar spec older generations.

1989 325i E30 Coupe Manual.

1993 325i E36 Coupe Auto.

1999 323ci E46 Coupe Manual.

All 2.5 motors.

Wouldn't compare it with sedans of lower or higher spec, or the 5 Series that I have owned.

The best parts with the E92 Coupe 325i are:

1) Beautiful body design with great front appearance, and the rear has much better finish compared to a sedan.

2) Fair size coupe. Large enough, but not too big.

3) Since 325 sits somewhere in the middle. Hence they're low key, which means people who want to abuse them generally don't target these; they buy the bottom end 320i, or the 330, 335 or M3, hence the chance of getting a neat one is fair.

4) The 2.5L is not super fast, but provides sufficient torque and adequate power when needed.

5) Extremely smooth, along with slick gear changes.

6) Very fuel efficient. On the open road it will do 6.5L/100km, & in the city around 10-11L/100km

7) Unlike the turbo models - it doesn't have too many complaints (of course there are always lemons out there, but this is my own collection of thoughts from different BMW forums that the 325i is a safer pick, and my last 3 had also no major issues during the time I owned them).

8) None of the body parts is shared with the sedan (this is rather generic for the E92). They should have really called this a 4 Series, rather than waiting till the F30 models :)

9) The pillarless doors do not leak any wind, hence the cabin is very quiet, just like the sedans. The previous generation suffered from wind noise.

10) Precise handling and well selected suspension for this type of coupe.

11) Fairly robust engine, and the transmission feels solid - unlike other autos I have owned. I don't have to pray for a smooth shift when the engine is cold.

12) Lots of cool features added as extras, but I don't want to go too much into details - but just to give an example: when you sit in the car, the seat belt gets pushed towards you by an automated arm, so you don't have to turn back to pull it.

Room for improvement:

1) Power steering feels heavy.

2) Run flat tyres aren't my cup of tea. Introduces road noise too.

3) Driver's cup holder location is not very handy.

4) Bluetooth isn't very user friendly.

5) Tyre wear is rather fast.

6) Interior is a little dull looking compared to its competitors (Audi A5 or Merc C Class Coupe, although they were designed a lot later).

I haven't owned this car for long, but put on reasonable km to get the feel of it. Found this car very solid. Also the pre-purchase inspection did not find any leaks or signs of wear. The previous owner seem to have done only the usual maintenance on time (e.g. services) and that has kept the car in good shape.

What I have right now is fully stock, and I plan to keep that way. May get some nicer wheels and window tints, but the factory design is very elegant.

Overall I am very happy so far. Apart from a service and transmission fluid change, I have done nothing else really. Thanks to the gentleman who provided me with the contact details for a great BMW service person.

At this stage, it feels like I won't be bored with this any time soon. Have gone through a few car changes over last 12 months, and none satisfied me fully till I got this one.

Anyway, if you're looking to buy a 325i coupe - I highly recommend this specific model. A manual would be fun for sure, but to be more practical with traffic, an auto does the job better for me, although it's little sluggish compared to a manual.

A few tips for people who are looking into buying this, especially if you're in NZ:

1) Buy NZ new. Most NZ new are German built and exposed to a known environment. Also people here generally look after them, hence they last lot longer.

2) Try to track down one with less owners, preferably from a mature owner, with a full service history if possible.

3) It's worth spending a few hundred dollars and getting it checked by BMW authorized mechanics.

4) Avoid Singapore imports. Due to humidity - lot of electrical issues. I have learnt the hard way.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 2nd July, 2014

2nd Jul 2014, 20:48

Agreed on buying NZ-New. They're not always available or cheap, but never mind BMWs, I notice that the oldest running cars around, even Mitsubishi Mirages or 1988 Corollas, are almost always NZ-new.

Also, an ex-Mitsi mechanic friend has told me that when a tech service bulletin from the factory comes out, they routinely upgrade the parts required on cars free of charge as they come in for service, even long after the warranty has expired.

Japanese imports are better than Singapore, but even with low mileage, they can still have problems. Just my observation on having had both NZ-new and Japanese import cars - Japanese and German.

As for not sharing a single body panel with the sedan, that can be a liability - when you do need a part, and the coupe lighting fixture is "just a little smaller" than the readily-available sedans, it is annoying.

2006 BMW 3 Series 320i 2.0L petrol from Australia and New Zealand

Summary:

Great entry level luxury cars

Faults:

Engine had a minor leak - was seals, which have now been replaced.

Wheel bearing at 104k - was at a very minor stage, but I can't sleep at night if things are not perfect in my car, so I got it done.

Shifting gears at times was rough, but a software update seems to have fixed this issue.

General Comments:

Before I get distracted, as I recently bought a Lexus V8 (trying something different and am loving it), I thought I'd write up a review so my head is still focused on this. I have written about 4 BMW reviews here and have owned about 17 of them over the last 15 years. At times I had 2 at once. I have owned E30, E36, E46, E90, E39 and E60 models. Can't afford an F30 yet. The models I had were the 318, 320, 323, 325, 328 520, 528 and 530 from the years 1988 to 2008.

So as everyone says - you notice the real BMW when you buy a 6 cylinder version, which I tend to support, but for economy and simplicity, a basic 4 cylinder car like a 320i is a great choice. However 323 versions are actually a tempting choice for a wee bit more, but a 320i will fit in well for low end budget fine.

I have owned 2x E90 until now. The first one was a 2005, but I wanted a sunroof so bought a 2006 version, which is exactly the same car, but has a sunroof. They both drive exactly the same, and all features seem to be the same – memory seat, auto light, angel headlights etc.

Due to the 320i being the base platform like Toyota has the Corolla – these are relatively simpler to fix, lots of parts are available, and depreciation is reasonable compared to high end models, and there's a lot less things to go wrong. The chances of you picking up a decent one are high, as there are many of them around, and they are not really the type of car where people can have lots of fun trashing them, so luck is more likely to be on your side.

I do about 70-80k a year, but my company car takes the hit as they are work related, but my personal driving would be from Rotorua to Auckland every weekend, and that's where the BMW gets used.

The first logical thing to talk about when you mention about driving amount would be fuel consumption. I would rate it very well on the open road and reasonable in town. I am 30 now, but I drive maturely, which means no trashing, and do look after the car well. The best I have got was 5.9L to 100km. Otherwise between 6.8-7.5 litres per 100 on the open road. In the city it does about 10-11 litres to 100km on Auckland roads. Thumbs up from an E46 model on the economy side, especially on the open road part. I owned a E46 99 BMW NZ new back in 2006 for few years, which I am comparing it with. Higher specs like the 323, 325 or 328 do very well on the open road as well, but the difference you notice is in city driving, and the E90 320i does it quite well.

Handling is truly great. Yes it lacks power compared to its elder brothers, who have more meat, but for a 2L I think it performs well compared to many other cars I have driven (I have driven over 200 cars, if not more, and I love cars just as much I love my girlfriend, ha ha, so it's a hobby, I'm not trying to exaggerate). It's a known fact that a BMW is a driver's car, and the E90 shape has improved aerodynamics, hence it seems to sail thru comfortably compared to the E46, E36 and E30 models I have owned.

The E90 feels roomier compare to the E46. I do like the interior now, but when it was first released, I thought the E46 had more kicks to it when it was released. I feel the seats are a bit too low, so not very comfy to get in and out, but once you get in the car – you feel very comfy. A downside is the rear visibility. Having high rear seat headrests and a smaller rear windshield can be painful sometimes, hence a rear view camera or parking sensor can become handy at times. The cabin is well insulated, but I have noticed few odd squeaky noises, which I still can't figure out where they're coming from. Please bear in mind that mine is a Japanese import.

RFT (Run flat tyres) are good in theory, but wear out quick and are very expensive, hence I changed to standard (although I run the risk of not having a spare, but hey that's why I have AA membership ;) ). RFT also introduces road noise. After doing the change, I have been noticing less noise in the cabin compared to before.

2.0L engines are still a bit noisy, and I would say there is a room for improvement there. Overall it has been a good car with no major complaints. If you do plan to own one, my recommendation is:

1) Buy NZ new or non-Singapore import with service history if possible. Otherwise get it inspected before buying.

2) Flush the transmission fluid every 100k (don't get confused about BMW's mixed message – it's a must. BMW's auto gearbox and electronics are generally the weakest link of the chain).

3) Service religiously every 10k, even if they say 15k will be fine (just to be on the safe side).

4) Check for oil leaks and fix them before you start using it.

5) Most import cars seem to have old software, and updating it does make an improvement, which you will notice, and also improves fuel economy.

Now what I have said here is my personal opinion only, some of you may not agree, but all of us has different experiences based on what we owned right? So it was just my view, and I'm happy to hear what your experience has taught you. I have moved to a Lexus V8, but that doesn't mean I won't buy another BMW. Each car maker has their own taste to offer, but overall I vote BMW over Audi (yes, I have owned the B5 and B6 platform as well for few months each) for the reliability, handling and comfort factors. Looks and interior will go to Audi, and again that is my personal preference.

So in conclusion, the 320i is very reliable unless you have bought a lemon. Yes, it is not a Corolla or Civic, so do expect higher bills, but it's still cheap for an entry level luxury car.

Currently you can pick up a 2005 onwards 320i that's done under 100k for below 15k in NZ, which is a great value for a lot of car. I would recommend trying one out. Any questions – I'm happy to answer.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 27th January, 2014

28th Jan 2014, 17:49

Thanks for the review - reasonable time of ownership and mileage driven. I'm thinking of eventually replacing my current 316ti Compact with one of these eventually, but will gun for the rarer 320i manual cars from Japan (which I observe to be of a low-level trim - no foglamps, hence no heated mirrors, no cruise control, often on hubcaps, low-spec cloth, no steering wheel audio controls, and has manual climate control, which doesn't really bother me).

I've driven the automatic version almost new in 2006, and first noticed that the 4-cyl engine is noticeably noisier, almost thought it was a diesel. I was told by the mechanic it's because of Valvetronic.

The one I drove had steering lighter than I was accustomed to, which was a bit worrying, but a more recent one I drove had that hefty, heavier steering feel I like. The car I drove seemed noisier inside too - and then again you mentioned changing to non-runflats improved the situation. That would be important for me, because driving on coarse-chip country roads in many cars creates a drone that fatigues me.

The one-touch indicators initially drove me nuts, but have gotten used to them of late, since a few more cars I've driven have them.

Agreed with your observation of the Lexus and Audi. I have had a string of used Audis, and they do have nicer interiors, and are more of a cruiser than a BMW, although the suspension isn't too shabby. The ambiance inside a typical Audi makes you feel more pampered and relaxed; the BMWs tend to be more businesslike. The Lexus is really a comfortable car, and that should be very reliable too. You can't expect it to be too frugal though - it's a heavy car.

Keep us posted - long-term experiences regarding possible common problems are useful. Often these can be easily rectified or prevented.