Used BMW 3 Series 1998 - 2005 review

Category: Executive car

Section: Our recommendations

1998 - 2005 review
BMW 3 Series (98 - 07)
  • BMW 3 Series (98 - 07)
  • BMW 3 Series (98 - 07)
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Our recommendations

Which used BMW 3 Series saloon should I buy?

There isn't a bad 3 Series - or even a disappointing one. The best two models are the petrol 318i and the diesel 320d, with the 318i preferable thanks to its lower purchase price. However, if you cover a lot of miles, then the better economy of the diesel car may be more attractive.

The 1.9-litre engine in the 316i is a little weak for a car of this size, and the 320d is worth the extra over the 318d. Gearboxes aren't a worry: manuals are slick, autos are smooth.

Trim-wise, on most early models, it's a question of standard or SE, but Sport and ES gradually joined the range over the years. On early cars, if there is a choice at all, the SE's extra equipment makes it the one to go for, but on later cars, ES is the top choice, with much of the SE's attractions at a lower cost.

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