21st Dec 2006, 08:17
As with so many of the differences of opinion within these pages, it all comes down to taste. Not good or bad taste, (unless praising a Cayenne) just different tastes.
I quite like the five series' styling, but don't like the three's. The mix of angular versus rounded doesn't lead me into Bangle's 'flame' vision, but reminds me of a rear three-quarter view of myself in the morning; somehow both sinewy and fat at the same time. Yuck. Its not about making a car look modern, it's a matter of how successfully interpretation of corporate design concept materialises across model range. I don't think its worked quite so well with the E90, too awkwardly and self consciously applied. Bangle's own words were "the 3-series is an icon and with all icons you have to be a little bit careful not to stray off". It therefore remains as a piece of design held back by the marketing department, to ensure continuity of huge sales despite (in my opinion) needing some kind of personality injection. The 3 series has become a classic haemorrhoids car -sooner or later every a***hole's got one. But the E90 has somehow become blander. It's a shame when one thinks what could have been achieved, go and look at (& sit in) an Alfa 159 in the metal if you need a reminder, (just don't buy one with your own money).
3rd Feb 2008, 16:39
I've recently bought a 2006 BMW 320D SE (E90) after owning a E46 for 2 years.
Firstly the handling is better, more taught, more feedback and response. Superb on winding country roads and on the Motorway. Noise levels are lower than all the competition.
On the downside the classic look of the E46 interior and the ease of using controls has gone.
I think if you're going to get one, plumb for all the extras you can get, once it's got a leather interior, a decent stereo, heated seats etc etc, the list goes on for ever, you've got a fantastic car.
Anyone who say the 'I drive' is difficult to operate must be the same type of person who can't e mail, it's great you've just got to use it. A reviewer who spends an hour in the car obviously isn't going to get it, who cares, your driving it every day!
Everything about the car and the service BMW dealerships offer exude quality and technical excellence.
6th Feb 2008, 08:33
One of my work colleagues has one (I drive an Audi A4 2.0TDI 170) and we swapped cars for the weekend.
It's a far sharper drive than the Audi, and you can feel the balance of the thing within two fast corners, i-Drive was fine once I got used to it, and the engine definitely smoother and more linear in its response than the Audi, even though outright pace was probably similar. Unfortunately, I just hated the interior. It's well made, but cheap looking, bland and dare I say slightly dated looking. The Audi is cosseting and the choice of materials is impeccable. The BMW felt to me like the interior was an afterthought, which is a big deal when you spend 5-6 hours a day in it most weekdays, as I do.
It's especially choking because the E46 had one of the nicest interiors of any mass produced car ever in my opinion.
The 3 series is a far better drivers car than the slightly detached Audi, but I also expect a premium brand car to make me feel special when I drive it, and the BMW for all its talents just didn't. It also looks horribly bland unless you buy the M-Sport spec (this is an SE)
A superb car - I could just never love it.
9th May 2009, 11:18
Hmm all the E46 owners need to set aside their green eyed monsters and move on with the times.
I have a 2007 3 series - I never even considered the E46 - far too dated looking.
The build quality of the E90 is far superior to the E46 (brother used to have an E46) The E46 interior is drab and old hat.
And of course 2007 models onwards - fuel economy is much improved with the new range of engines.
7th Oct 2010, 06:35
We have just bought a 2006 E90, and have owned an E46 for the past 4 years, and prior to that, the eighties 3 series model. Sitting in that BMW 20 odd years ago hooked me. The way the cockpit angled in and the red lighting of the dash etc was also what I loved. So 20 years later, I'm in an E90 and you know what, we love it.
I went for the 320i petrol and instead of beige now dark leather. Yes, it looks a bit Japanese on the interior and no angled cockpit, but the drive is fantastically smooth and I love the oil indicator on the dash (who wants to dig out a dipstick anyway?). We have 18" rims and this makes the car look superb from the outside.
I guess it's moving on and accepting the design from the car builder we love, and then loving the car for itself... which again we do.
Chris, Perth, Australia.
12th Dec 2006, 13:53
Yes, sad to say, but the Bangle butt has now become an automotive trend. Who'dve thunk it?
But I still think the 5 series is hideously ugly. One magazine compared its front to the face of Dame Edna and I agree.
That said, the wagon version is very attractive and even desirable.
The new 3 series is just what 3 series have always been - pleasing designs that don't scream "look at me".