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What's members experience with 3 Series BMWs?


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35 replies to this topic

#1 of 36 OFFLINE   Lee Scoggins

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Posted March 29 2004 - 06:58 AM

My wife is looking at 3 Series BMWs...

What has been people's experiences with BMWs?

Do you like the car? Was the experience at the dealership a good one?

If we get a 325 or 330 should we get any specific performance packages or options?

Thanks in advance for your advice. She wants something sporty and well-made and the car magazines seem to like the 3s a lot.

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#2 of 36 OFFLINE   Philip Hamm

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Posted March 29 2004 - 07:16 AM

My brother in law has one, and my brother used to have one, I've driven both the automatic and the manual. They're nice. Cramped. Very sporty. Taught suspension is not especially comfortable over rough pavement.

The standard transmission is much more fun to drive than the automatic. The clutch is tricky though, especially compared to the one in my A4.

Check insurance premiums.

Nice looking car.
EDIT
I have to say, I prefer the more comfortable ride that my A4 sport package offers, as well as the interior layout. I'll be selling it any day now... :-(

German cars like these can get expensive to own, not because they break down, but because the parts are expensive and maintenance requirements hefty. They offer no compromise performance, and the price of that is short lived brake components and other replacable wear items.
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#3 of 36 OFFLINE   Tom Fynan

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Posted March 29 2004 - 07:19 AM

I owned a 1999 325 4-door that was probably the best car I ever owned. I now drive a 2002 M-3 convertible that is more fun, but a little less comfortable. The seats in the M-3 are a little narrower than the standard seats in the 325, so I would avoid the "sports package" seats if you or your wife have wide hips. The only possible drawback with the 3 series is the rear-wheel drive. It makes driving in the snow a little challenging. That may not be an issue in Georgia, but it keeps me on my toes in Connecticut.

As for options, I would avoid the rain-sensing windshield wipers if they still offer them, but I would definitely go for the heated seats and steering wheel. My partner has the parking sensors on his 5 series, which I scoffed at initially, but I now wish I had them on my car. Go for them if they offer them.

The 3 series are great cars, and I'm sure you'll enjoy driving it.

#4 of 36 OFFLINE   MarkHastings

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Posted March 29 2004 - 07:37 AM

Quote:
The only possible drawback with the 3 series is the rear-wheel drive. It makes driving in the snow a little challenging. That may not be an issue in Georgia, but it keeps me on my toes in Connecticut.
I have a 2002 330xi which is all wheel drive and I haven't had any problems in the snow. - i.e. commuting from Norwalk to Walleyworld every day here in CT. Posted Image

I can not tell you how much I LOVE this car. Not only have I stated that it was worth every last penny, but I have even been known to think that it is worth MORE than every last penny.

The thing that sold me on the car was its handling. When I took one for a test drive, the salesman had me take this turn that was almost a 70 degree turn. Whenever I approahed that turn in my old car, I'd have to slam on the brakes or else I'd drift ino the other lane. When I hit the turn in the BMW, the guy told me to do 60 mph. I was so afraid to because I thought we'd go flying into the other lane. Needless to say, the car hugged the corner and I hardly felt it at all. It was amazing and sold me on it instantly. Posted Image

p.s. Tom, the corner I'm refering to is the entrance ramp to i-91 (off of Rt. 5) on the Wallingford/North haven line (Warton Brook). That turn (off of Rt. 5) is pretty treaturous.

p.s.s. If you're going to get a used one, avoid the 2001 series. BMW tried to redo the steering and didn't do it correctly. Needless to say, a lot of previous owners were not happy. Especially with the unprredictable problems they ran into.

#5 of 36 OFFLINE   Alex Prosak

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Posted March 29 2004 - 08:26 AM

I've owned a '97 328i and driven the newer versions of the 3 series. I never had any problems with the one I owned. The newer ones have a bit more leg room, especially in the rear seats. I think the sport package is a must and a manual tranny adds to the fun. I haven't looked into them too much recently but I recall, at least initially, that they were having A LOT of problems with the SMG tranny. At least according to my dealer. Definitely something to look into if you're considering that transmission.

I'm driving an A4 now and I prefer it to my old Bimmer, except the damn B**e stereo that came with it.


#6 of 36 OFFLINE   Thi Them

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Posted March 29 2004 - 01:10 PM

I have a 2003 325i and love it. The handling is far better than anything I've driven.

~T

#7 of 36 OFFLINE   Lee Scoggins

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Posted March 29 2004 - 01:35 PM

Thanks for the great feedback. Very useful. Look forward to reading more stories. Posted Image
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#8 of 36 OFFLINE   david stark

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Posted March 29 2004 - 01:39 PM

I had a 2001 3 series for a couple of years as a company car and loved it. I had the 320 td touring with manual gearbox and very few options. If/when I get around to getting another car a BMW will be top of the list (unless of course I can afford a ferrari).

It had excellent handling, excellent brakes and was pretty comfortable to boot. I had to swerve pretty severely round some sort of metal frame that was thrown up by a car I was following on a motorway at about 140kmh, but the 3 series handled the mad swerve round it with no problems, despite me sweating somewhat.

#9 of 36 OFFLINE   Craig

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Posted March 30 2004 - 02:02 AM

I've owned a 2003 325i since October, have about 8000 miles on it, and love it. I've owned a lot of Japanese cars in the past and the 325i is equal in overall quality, no rattles, fit and finish are excellent, zero problems so far.

I traded in a 2002 Honda Accord EX V6 coupe which I had owned for two years. The BMW is quieter, rides better and handles better. The only downside to the BMW compared to the Honda is that there's a lack of storage space inside for small items. The Honda had a ton of cubbyholes for sunglasses, cellphones, etc.

I did not want the low profile tires, too many potholes in the city (I live near downtown Atlanta), so I didn't get the Sports Package. The 55 series tires that come standard are fine in terms of handling, and they give a comfortable ride too boot.

I have the 5-speed, acceleration is very good and the engine is really smooth. The surprise is gas mileage. I've averaged 26.3 MPG since purchasing the car. I do a lot of interstate driving, and avoid most rush hour traffic due to the hours I work, so my mpg is probably better than most people get, but the 26+ mpg is still excellent IMO.

I got my BMW from Global Imports. I had looked it up at Edmunds.com beforehand, and they gave me the price on Edmunds without a hassle (actually I looked it up on Carsdirect also, but Edmunds was lower so I went with them). I don't know if I could have done better pricewise by arguing with them for hours, but we had the price wrapped up in about a 1/2 hour which was a big contrast to most car deals I've had. If you visit them ask about which exit to take to get to the dealership, they're on a service road near the 75-285 intersection in Marietta and it's a bit of a hassle to get to them.

Anyway, a big thumbs up for the 325i.

#10 of 36 OFFLINE   Jay H

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Posted March 30 2004 - 02:25 AM

I have a '97 328i (silver 4dr Automatic w/ sp package). I have been happy with it pretty much. It's very easy to work on, coolant changes, brakes, oil changes (this is really simple) and the performance is good while being excellent in the handling department. I really bought it because the size, it's fairly lightweight and small when compared to the American and Japanese sedans at the time. Everything was designed as a drivers car. It also had the best steering feel I have ever felt in a car, the steering made you feel connected and didn't have alot of the on-center wandering that my parents Japanese or American SUVs had. Doesn't ride like a boat and it had some nice touches.

However, anything you buy or pay through the dealer is super expensive, parts, labor, etc.. but since they made it so easy to work on, there's no reason not to do your own regular maintenance. That's the beauty of so-called "German engineering" They are made to work on and they last long.

Downsides: Cost of ownership if you do not do your own work. E36's water pumps are notoriously fickle, the impeller is plastic in some of the earlier models and they don't last long. Mine died and was replaced under warentee. My '97 did not come with a moonroof, it has a sunroof, but a moonroof would of been nice. My '97 also did not have the option for an in-dash CD Player!! $35k car, with a tape deck... ugh. Wired for 6-cd changer in the trunk (which was super expensive) but no in-dash CD option til I think '98 or '99.
No excuse, IMO. Now, you can buy adaptors for the I-bus audio but it was not available when I bought the car so I just replaced the in-dash unit (Made by Alpine) with a moderate Sony one with a CD player.

So, overall, I think the E36 328i is a good buy, I heard a lot of flack on the steering on the earlier E46s and I'm glad that I still have my E36 cause IMO, they can't improve on the E36's steering, I just love it.

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#11 of 36 OFFLINE   MarkHastings

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Posted March 30 2004 - 02:32 AM

Another thing to consider is wether your ready to pay for the gas. The BMW's suggest you use 91 octane or higher. At $2/gallon my firends think I'm crazy, but that's the prcie you pay to maintain such a great car.
Quote:
excellent in the handling department
This is the one thing I can not mention enough. It's just too amazing how the car handles. I'm actually spoiled now and can't think of driving anything else...I feel like I'm all over the road and less in control when I drive someone else's car. Posted Image

As other have mentioned, the BMW raidos are the worst stock radios I've ever heard. I've heard of numerous complaints about their radios. I replaced mine with a JVC (with a mini plug import for my MP3 player) and it now kicks ass with the 12 Harman Kardon speakers in the car.

#12 of 36 OFFLINE   Tim Markley

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Posted March 30 2004 - 05:44 AM

I owned a 2000 BMW 323ci for 4 years. It had the Sport and Premium Packages and was a great car. Handled like it was on rails and was very solid. The service we received from BMW was also very good. I traded it in last year on a new Infiniti FX45 because I needed more room for my son.

#13 of 36 OFFLINE   Brian Perry

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Posted March 30 2004 - 06:15 AM

Quote:
That's the beauty of so-called "German engineering" --They are made to work on

I wish the things that have broken down on my 7 were do-it-yourself. (Servos in the a/c went bad, radiator neck snapped, dead pixels in instrument cluster, etc.) However, despite the money paid to the dealer (aka, the stealer) I absolutely love the car. As Phil mentioned, the parts are designed not so much for longevity as they are for performance.

#14 of 36 OFFLINE   Ray Suarez

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Posted March 30 2004 - 07:28 AM

I have to agree wholeheartedly with those who rave about the handling. I had a 2001 325 coupe manual transmission with sport and cold weather package. The handling was amazing and the car was very well built. It was so fun to drive that I would actually look forward to my drives around town. Safety features are top notch and overall the car gets many raves from owners/mags. I reluctantly traded it in for an SUV as the Chicago winters were too harsh on the BMW. The AWD model would have been a better choice in this regard. Keep doing your research and take a test drive. A little pricey when you add on the options to the barebones base model but lives up to its reputation.

#15 of 36 OFFLINE   MarkHastings

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Posted March 30 2004 - 09:10 AM

Quote:
overall the car gets many raves from owners/mags
The main reason why I originally investigated BMW's was because the 530i hits the top of Consumer Reports list for "Overall Best Car" quite often!
Quote:
I reluctantly traded it in for an SUV as the Chicago winters were too harsh on the BMW. The AWD model would have been a better choice in this regard.
Again, no complaints this past winter here in CT with my AWD.

Anyone driven the X3's or X5's? (i.e. the BMW SUV's) - I'm curious as to how they handle compared to the cars.

#16 of 36 OFFLINE   LDfan

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Posted March 31 2004 - 01:44 AM

I don't have a BMW although I wish I did. As for the X5 my neighbor has one and had a rather difficult time last year when we got about a foot of snow but all the other SUVs in the neighborhood got around just fine. I'd probably say the problem was the tires on the X5.

Jeff

#17 of 36 OFFLINE   MarkHastings

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Posted March 31 2004 - 02:55 AM

Jeff, that seems to be what I was thinking about them. If you're going to get an SUV, then get an SUV (like an Explorer or a Blazer), if you want a BMW, then get the car version.

#18 of 36 OFFLINE   Jay H

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Posted March 31 2004 - 02:56 AM

Tires are always an issue. I have no real problems getting around in my 328i with Blizzaks and traction control. TC is great when moving but it is good to turn it off when you need to get started. TC will prevent wheelspin which is important when moving but sometimes even in a few inches, RWD cars need to spin their wheels a bit just to start moving when going uphill. So at red lights or going uphill, I will turn TC off and regulate wheelspin with the throttle.

The differences between Z rated summer tires and good snow tires is like night and day. I have a couple of times gone out in spring storms in Z rated Dunlop SP80000s and it's a bit scary w/o TC.

My father's Jeep GC was OK in the snow despite having OEM tires that were made more for road comfort than snow.

Jay
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#19 of 36 OFFLINE   Alex Prosak

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Posted March 31 2004 - 04:25 AM

When I got my Audi, it had some crappy H rated tires that were scary as hell on ice. I trashed them and put on some ContiExtremeContacts that I got from Tire Rack and so far I'm very happy with them. Nice handling on dry pavement and snow and ice. Not quite as good as studded tires or Blizzaks but pretty darn good. I figure with the Quattro, they should be the only tires I'll need all year round.

#20 of 36 OFFLINE   Tim Markley

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Posted March 31 2004 - 04:37 AM

Quote:
Anyone driven the X3's or X5's? (i.e. the BMW SUV's) - I'm curious as to how they handle compared to the cars.
The X5 (don't know about the X3 since it's new) doesn't have nearly the same great reputation as the 3 Series. Quite the contrary actually since it's had quite a few recalls and is generally regarded as having poor reliability. I was planning on buying one when we got rid of our 3 Series but after driving both the 3.0 and 4.4, I wasn't impressed. I then went to Infiniti to test drive the FX (35 and 45) and found what I was looking for. The FX has that great handling that I loved in the 3 Series. I ended up buying an FX45 and have been very happy with it.


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