I bought a 2002 150hp model from a BMW main dealer in Madrid with 15.000km on the clock. I've used it every day for mixed motorway and town driving and now it's at 108.000km. I can honestly say that its given me a lot of pleasure through a nice balance of power, handling and general usefulness. Interior equipment was surprisingly basic - casette tape player(!)and no rear electric windows but it's all solid and good quality and in the right place. On the reliability side the turbo went at 70.000km,- expensive - but other than only two faulty warning lights. A very good car.
I owned a 52 Plate 318i SE
Simply one of the best in it's class if a little expensive.
The build quality is second to none, driving this car was always pleasurable and very comfortable if a little snug. Boot space is a let down, but this is a compact exec.
Due to the mileage I cover I sold on after only 13 months by which time the car had covered 109K but still drove as new.
So long as you regularly service the car it will never let you down. Main dealers are expensive but pays dividends in terms of resale value. FSH is a must for this type of car as many do fall into the wrong hands and not properly maintained.
Ignition coils failed around 85K miles which cost £250 to replace, luckily I paid extra for a warranty which cushioned the blow, would strongly recommend paying for additional warranty when the manufacturers one expires.
Would definately buy one again.
The '98 model 3-series is an excellent car. I originally had the 318i which although slow was very refined - this review is of the 330i Auto which I owned more recently.
I have to mention the engine because that is the stand out thing about this model. When you first switch on the ignition, the low, bassy rumble it gives out gives you a little tingle of anticipation down your spine. When revving it through the (automatic) gears, it sounds really great, but when sitting at constant speed on the motorway the engine is really very quiet.
The car is reasonably small and as a BMW you would expect it to handle and drive well - and it does. It feels quite grippy (wide and low-profile tyres on this are standard) and the auto box is very smooth.
Space is the only issue - not really big enough for five people, although ok for four as long as you don't have tall front passengers.
15,000 mile service intervals are quite long and BMW dealer servicing not as expensive as you might think. Couple with good reliability, this is not at all outrageous to own.
I must say that this was by far the best car that i have ever owned - and i have had well over ten cars before this one. It did have its problems like the fuel gauge stopped working and the ABS light would come on in the wet sometimes. It was very cheap to service, costing around £130 for an oil change, but the dealers would even pick it up and drop it off at my work or home at no extra cost. The parts are a fair price too. My car had full BMW service history (don't buy one without) and had done 100k when i first picked it up and then 130k when I sold it four years later. This car never used oil, smoked or felt worn in anyway, even passing every MOT I ever had it go though. It handled like a racing car and drives like a dream. So it just goes to show that not everyone ends up with a bad one.
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