Used BMW 3 Series Coupe 1999 - 2006 review

Category: Coupé

The BMW 3 Series Coupe is quiet, solid, rewarding to drive and very desirable.

BMW 3 Series Coupe (98 - 07)
  • BMW 3 Series Coupe (98 - 07)
  • BMW 3 Series Coupe (98 - 07)
Used BMW 3 Series Coupe 1999 - 2006 review
Star rating

What's the used BMW 3 Series coupe like?

You won't be disappointed in the BMW 3 Series Coupe if you enjoy driving. The handling is sharp, involving and addictive, but there's plenty of grip and some useful electronic driver aids that stop it getting out of control. Even with the firm sports suspension, though, it rides all but the worst bumps in comfort.

It's also a terrific motorway cruiser. The excellent driving position and logical controls come into their own on long hauls and the cabin effectively shuts out external noise, apart from tyre rumble.


The BMW 3 Series Coupe is quiet, solid, rewarding to drive and very desirable.

  • The 3 Series Coupe handles superbly and has some fantastic engines
  • It just doesn't look special enough, especially for a coupe

Whichever engine and gearbox you pick, you'll have plenty of power at your command, all delivered very smoothly. Drive more sensibly, and the engines are surprisingly frugal, too.

Inside and out, the styling is bland - too close to the 1998-2005 3 Series saloon's – but the quality of materials and rock-solid build are beyond reproach. So is the amount of space in the front.

However, this isn't the most practical of machines. Adults in the back will complain about the shortage of headroom, and the boot is no more than average, either.

Ownership cost

What used BMW 3 Series coupe will I get for my budget?

How much does it cost to run a BMW 3 Series coupe?

You'll pay a reasonable wedge to get hold of one. The oldest, high-mileage 318Ci cars are far cheaper but, even then, the same money will bag you a newer, faster, more stylish-looking coupe from another manufacturer.

However, the BMW 3 Series Coupe only loses its value slowly, so you'll reap the dividends when you sell it on.

Running costs won't hurt too much. For example, the 318Ci is remarkably cheap to service - some superminis cost more - but the 330Ci will add another 25% or more to your bill. Even then, a 330Ci should work out cheaper than the equivalent Mercedes CLK to service.

Insurance is competitive and fuel costs are pretty decent. The 320Ci, 325Ci and 330Ci all fall close to 30mpg on the official combined average, the 318Ci just short of 40mpg. The 330Cd diesel is good for over 40mpg and the 320Cd nudges 50mpg.

Our recommendations

Which used BMW 3 Series coupe should I buy?

They're all good, but go for a post-September 2001 car. That's when the BMW 3 Series Coupe gained an uprated chassis, better security and standard air-con across the range.

However, even from its launch in May 1999, it was well equipped: alloy wheels, alarm, anti-lock brakes, traction control and electric windows were standard. Nonetheless, many were stacked with options, so hunt down an SE car with tasty extras. Look especially for leather, sat-nav and xenon headlights, which will improve resale value.

Early 318Ci models had a 1.9 engine, which was replaced by a better 2.0-litre 318Ci in 2001. Our favourite is the 2.5-litre six-cylinder engine - either the 170bhp 323Ci or, on later cars, the 192bhp 325Ci - which gives the best mix of performance, refinement and economy.

The 330Ci petrol and 330Cd are swift, but you'll need deep pockets to buy one. The 320Cd diesel is smooth, quick and economical.

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