Hi, great review.
Is this the last of the 3 series models? Is that what you mean by 'last of the 3 series generation' in your review?
I've wanted to get a 3 series for some time now and if this will be the last 3 series models, I better go out and get one now!
2005 is the last 3 series to be manufactured before they redesign it. The 2006 model looks stunning to some and has 30 more horsepower I am still skeptical on how many bus there might be in the new design. But I am sure they know what they are doing.
I've driven the latest 320i (the latest body out). After having driven a myriad of BMWs ('88-90 3-series, '92-97 3-series, '90-91 5-series, '88-90 7-series), this latest body was a bit of a disappointment. It simply doesn't FEEL like a BMW. The doors don't thunk shut like they were filled with concrete the way the old ones did, the steering oddly feels less direct than my Audi A4 (although nothing I read in the press mentions this), the engine is ususually noisy (I thought it was a diesel from the outside while idling), and it doesn't have a coolant temperature gauge. Without looking at the badge on the steering wheel, I felt like either I was driving the latest Renault sedan (it was comfortable) or a very, very good recent-model Japanese car. It was also quite frugal -- driving at constant 60 km/h with the auto in D, was using only 7 litres/100 km, not bad for a heavy car with an automatic gearbox. My South African friend who's owned three 3-series cars, wasn't impressed with this latest car, and would rather keep his current one. I'd still buy a new 3-series if only because it offers an excellent turbodiesel engine and a manual gearbox (most Euros in NZ now only get imported with an automatic box -- great while still under warranty, see what happens when it's 8 years old and the computer fails).
Yes, quality is a HUGE issue with European cars of all types now. Even editors at Roundel, the BMW Car Club of America's magazine, stated that buying a first year BMW model is a risking proposition - and that's something they admit they had never said in the past.
And there is no consistent level of service quality at BMW dealerships in America. Sometimes you're treated like royalty, other times you get "they all do that" when complaining about a problem. So these wonderful warranties mean nothing if your dealer is uncooperative.
I recommend that anyone considering a first year model of any car wait a year or two to see how the quality is.
And I must say I am sick and tired of design taking over function. I am 6' 2" and used to be able to fit in any 3 series from the 1980's (E30's). Then in the 1990's I could only fit in the sedans (E36/46). Now with the new model (which I looked at in the showroom) I can barely fit in the sedan.
Of course, BMW's answer to all this is just move up a class to the 5 series, but why should I be punished for not being small? I can fit in a Mini perfectly, even with a sunroof.
I drive a 320 diesel full option,produced in 2001 and since the car has too limited head space (I am 1.86 m.) for me and no rear support I am looking for an alternative in the same class. Tough job.
Apart from the two elements above, my 320 was perfect. Quite a relief after an Alfa 156 (always in the garage, noises everywhere, trouble with the common rail) the 320 is a reliable car and has a wonderful multi-color, efficient navigation system.
I consider the Saab 9 3 Sport Hatch now, which after test driving, felt much more appealing to me than the other option, the New VW Passat.
Did anybody find a reasonable alternative for a BMW 320, with excellent seating comfort?
BMW quality is very poor these days and they are over priced for what ya get.
3 series BMWs are for girls that don't know much about cars and think that it will impress the other girls.
I wouldn't buy a newer 3 series for the manufactured quality, but rather I would stick to an older one. Oh, and just for your information, whoever made that last comment, I am a girl and I made this "BMW quality assessment" all by myself. Don't think that anyone who doesn't look at car quality is a girl. I probably know more than you do about cars.
Do not agree that BMW quality is poor - at least not in the UK or Ireland. Mercedes has suffered, but BMW remains a high quality, reliable proposition. In the UK, the 3 series outsells mass models such as the Ford Mondeo, Vectra and the like. Fleets would not continue to buy the 3 series in such hugh numbers if there were quality issues to the extent that some people here are suggesting. I have a contact within the company car leasing business and the 3 series remains a car that gives very few problems. I own a '06 320D which has covered 27,000 miles in 11 months - during this time I have had no quality or reliability issues. I cannot comment on cars produced in South Africa.
You should buy American then if you want to see awful craftsmanship. Try putting at least $500 a month into a newer GM for just repairs, not maintenance, this was a car that cost 30K new, which FYI is about the same as a new BMW 3 series. You have nothing to complain about. BMW has the best quality around for the price. Want to buy my Grand AM? Probably not!
I drive a 2005 325 convertible. No issues with this car at 50,000 miles. Average mileage is 24 MPG to 29 on the highway. I think the quality is top notch.
I owned a Mercedes SL for eight years and most of its life was spent in the shop. For half the price BMW gives the best bang for the buck.