The BMW 325i E46 is still one of the more attractive cars on the road today.
The facelifted E46 model’s "China" lights and sleek body still turns heads when you pull up outside Cape Town’s finest night clubs. Even better, you feel like the real deal when fetching your date. The E46 models were manufactured from 1999 to 2005 and I owned a facelifted 2001 325i automatic.
Luxury, sportiness and power are the norm for a Beemer, and mine had neither of these qualities in short supply.
Even if the grey leather interior looked a bit tacky after a few years, the instrument cluster, climate control and radio console could easily be at home in the new BMWs.
Electric windows, electric memory seats, a six-CD shuttle and 16-inch wheels added the finishing touches to this German beauty.
On the road, the 325i did not disappoint since it's responsive, quick and easy to maneouvre. The six-cylinder 141-kW engine has more than enough power to take on the likes of your neighbour’s Audi A4 2.4 or his Mercedes-Benz C200K.
Nimble and quick
It handled beautifully round the bends on the M3 towards Muizenberg and overtaking was a breeze. The feisty 325i was able to sprint from 0-100km/h in just under 8.5 seconds which is more than acceptable in its class.
Put the car into "tiptronic" or sport mode and you will feel that extra bit of pull and response when changing gears manually. It is quite a thirsty engine and can be expected to use as much fuel as any six cylinder in its segment.
Safety is vital on our roads today and the BMW 325i comes standard with airbags all round as well as ABS brakes.
Adding to the positive side of things, the 3 Series range over the last 20 years has been able to keep up its reputation for being a modern looking car and even today, you will still get one or two stares at your streamlined 1996 328i, whereas some of its competitors, like the 1996 Mercedes-Benz C220, are just plain dull and bulky.
Unfortunately there are a few negative points to talk about.
Things to consider
Firstly, if you are buying a second hand BMW out of maintenance plan, take great caution as it can become very expensive when things go wrong in a BMW, especially an electronic or computer system malfunction.
Secondly, the resale value of a BMW is quite poor and in these current conditions, you are going to struggle getting your price as second hand BMWs have flooded the car market and there are loads of bargains out there. Take a trip down to some of the second BMW specialists and you can pick and choose E46 models. Any colour, any model, you name it!
One needs to decide whether they want to pay R85 000 - R100 000 on a second hand 3 Series or buy a Toyota Yaris out the box for the same price. The answer lies in one’s personality, motives and degree of conservatism.