It's difficult to rate practicality and quality using the star-rating method. Some aspects of the cabin are exceptional while others are fairly poor.
The discomfort of having to cradle a cold drink in your crotch area due to a lack of cup-holders is unforgivable. The rubber coating used around the doors and centre console wears in no time and makes a three-year-old car look old and used.
The rest is of a very high standard - the dash and leather seats are durable and look and feel like real quality. Everything in the cabin is easy to reach from the driver's seat and the multi-function steering wheel is a treat. All the other bells and whistles make driving it as comfortable as sitting in your lounge.
I've had my expensive problem (as most BMW owners will). It felt like a misfire but was actually the oxygen sensor that malfunctioned, sending the wrong information back to the engine. My major service was also expensive. However, I've done around 35 000 miles and that was the only unforeseen set back to date.
The drive is good if somewhat hard, but this is a small price to pay for the great handling. I also like feeling what the road is doing, I'm sure this'll change with age. I doubt I've taken the car to its cornering limits as that urge is satisfied long before the tyres even consider letting go.
After two years I still look forward to driving it every time I get in. I also favour the 'questionable' looks and don't mind walking up to it at all.
Like previous writers, my wife's 318ti coupe's rear springs failed after 20,000 miles. I went to the local garage for an MOT, only to be told that the four-year-old, 23,000 mile car had two broken rear springs. They said the car was not roadworthy and could not be driven.
The springs were replaced by the local garage and the MOT passed. Unlike attitude to previous correspondents, BMW does not want to know. The selling garage, Woods of Bournemouth, are as much use as a chocolate teapot, and have lost interest.
So it's the last BMW for our household. That's a pity, because the car is ideal for my wife.
My wife has had this car from new (Mar 04) and has had no problems.
However, in response to Keith Sutton, I have also heard the "bag of loose nuts" noise but only first thing in the morning when I get the car out of the garage and this is only now and again.
Its only covered 10,000 miles and the wife only uses it three or four times a week on short journeys. She is very pleased with it and we get about 26mpg.
I like driving it as it handles very well when throwing it around bends at high speeds (The wife doesn't know about that bit, though).
BMW 320d SE Compact (six-speed, 150bhp). The build and ride quality is nice, although the standard 16-inch alloy wheels and high tyre walls, combined with soft suspension, results in some intersting fun when going over bad bumps in the road, or entering a bend a little too fast.
I find the interior very basic, even with climate control and multi-function steering wheel. The standard front-loading BMW 'Business' CD player is OK, but not great. The rear speakers are a joke and to be honest are so bad I have to fade them out of the mix the moment I turn the volume to normal listening levels. Even Clapton or Dire Straits type of music make the rear speakers fart like hell, and no, they are not blown! I guess this is due to their size and location.
The standard cloth seats are bland and look poo! They are fairly comfortable at least. The mechanical adjuster levers are frustrating and dangerous should you reach down to adjust as you are driving. There isn't a cup holder in sight, not even in the glove box lid. The door handle trims are covered in a rubber coating which scratches and peels off very easily.
Power delivery is pretty smooth and fairly fast, although alongside a VW Golf 130 PD or similar it doesn't stand a chance. I think if you're after luxury and performance at this class of car you should be looking at 1.9TDi Audi A3s and similar.
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