Written on: 15/05/2012 by rogerzilla (4 reviews written)
You don't buy a BMW for reliability and the E46 is distinctly average in this respect. However, it looks good (much better than the succeeding E90) and performance and handling are superb. Much of the money seems to have been spent on the interior, with some ingenious storage spaces on the Touring model.
Watch for diesel engines ingesting their inlet manifold swirl flaps - shamefully, BMW never issued a recall although this has written off many engines and turbochargers over the years - and blown turbos on 2001-2003 320d models. BMW took a 136bhp engine and pushed it up to 150bhp without really making it reliable enough. The gearchange becomes sloppy and the stick stops self-centreing after a high mileage, the dual-mass crankshaft pulley can fall apart, rear coil springs snap with depressing predictability and the steel brake pipes rust. It isn't built to the standards of a Nissan Micra.
Either buy one cheap - and they are cheap now - because you really like it and don't mind spending up to £1000 on it occasionally, or just have one as a company car, then it's someone else's problem. Old saloons have a chavvy image, so the Touring is better if you want the neighbours to speak to you.
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