Used BMW 3 Series Convertible 2000 - 2006 review

Category: Convertible

The BMW 3 Series convertible is good to drive, desirable, roomy and comfortable.

BMW 3 Series Convertible (98 - 07)
  • BMW 3 Series Convertible (98 - 07)
  • BMW 3 Series Convertible (98 - 07)
Used BMW 3 Series Convertible 2000 - 2006 review
Star rating

What's the used BMW 3 Series sports like?

The BMW 3 Series Convertible is totally classy, whichever model you choose and no matter how old it is. The interior and dash are just like those in any 3 Series of the era – well-made and efficient, if sombre. The driving position is spot-on and the positioning of the controls is A1, too, although the stereo switches are fiddly.

The cabin is spacious, but strictly for four (not five) and the boot space is reduced once you've dropped the electrically operated roof.


The BMW 3 Series convertible is good to drive, desirable, roomy and comfortable.

  • The 3 Series convertible drives superbly and there's hardly any body shake
  • The extra body stiffening adds a considerable amount of weight, restricting the performance

Driving with the roof down is a serene experience, although rear seat passengers are a little exposed to the wind at speed. Put the hood up, and it's so quiet you could almost kid yourself you were in a 3 Series Coupe, the Convertible's closest tin-topped relation.

Step into one straight from a Coupe, though, and you'll notice that the extra bracing fitted to limit the body shake also adds enough weight to obviously limit the car's performance. Press on, and you will also be able to feel the body flexing through the steering. It's only slight, admittedly, but it's there, and that might put off some people.

Ownership cost

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

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

It'll cost a fair whack more to buy and run than a 3 Series saloon, but it makes a lot more sense when you compare it to other posh-brand drop tops.

Prices are high and demand higher, so act quickly once you've found what you want – and don't think that you'll score a bargain by buying in the depths of winter, because prices dip little with the seasons. Its popularity, though, means that you'll see a good price come resale time.

Main dealer servicing is expensive, although prices drop for cars past their fourth birthday, and insurance is costly, too. The M3 will be the most expensive in this regard, while the 318 is cheapest.

The 320 diesel promises up to 45mpg and the 318i 36mpg, but the others will rarely touch 30mpg, while the M3 dips below 15mpg in town.

Our recommendations

Which used BMW 3 Series sports should I buy?

If you can, go for a model with a six-cylinder petrol engine, a 320i, 325i or 330i.

Which you buy will depend on your wallet, but we prefer the 320i because it has enough power to make for an enjoyable drive, is affordable and there are plenty for sale.

Other petrol engines include the high-performance M3 and the four-cylinder 318i; the first is a great car, if costly, the second not cheap enough to make it a value buy.

There are also 320 and 330 diesels, which can return 45mpg. Manual or auto gearboxes are available throughout.

Choose between SE and M Sport trim. All have alloy wheels, climate control, powered driver's seat adjusters, electric windows and a CD player. M Sport lowers and hardens the suspension, but we prefer the softer ride of the SE. Buy from main dealers for best choice and aftercare.

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