2008 BMW 1 Series Long Term Road Test


2008 BMW 135i or 2002 BMW M3 E46?

February 04, 2009

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Way back before the gas crisis, the housing crisis and the credit crisis, we did a comparison test between a new BMW 135i (very much like our long term BMW 135i), a new BMW 335i and our newly aquired long-term 2002 BMW M3 E46. The idea was simple. Where is your money best spent on a BMW hot rod coupe? And it played out like this:

335i: Great in every way, but unnecessarily expensive.

135i: Almost great in every way, the quickest of the bunch, but still unnecessarily expensive.

E46 M3: Still great where it counts, fast, although the slowest of the three. Also the cheapest by a bunch. Best looking too. And the most viceral. We have a winner.

Well, I just spent some time in our E46 and I just spent a night in our 135i. As much as I'm a lover of both, I would spend the extra bucks a month and buy a 335i sedan. Turns out I don't think it's unnecessarily expensive. For the extra cash you get the best drivetrain, the most refinement and the best interior. I also prefer the suspension tuning and directional stability of the 335i, even with the sport package, which I would hope to afford. The 135i is bit all over the place on the highway and it rides a bit choppy for my taste.

Still, the 135i is my second choice. Some lowering springs and a set of deep dish wheels to set it off and I'd be happy for a long time. Choppy ride and all.

And then there's our E46. It's a car I lust after. And owning one would be a privilege. However, I'm taken by the awesome refinement, the subtle tuning excellence and the turbocharged thrust of the new cars.

What do you think?

Scott Oldham, Inside Line Editor in Chief

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