Look, the BMW 3 series is as about a pleasurable ride in a daily driver you can possibly get. Great road feel, great acceleration, great looks, & in the MT a superior shifting experience. However, be prepared to pay high maintenance costs, especially beyond 75k miles. I bought my '97 with 49k miles. It now has 99k, & I have put out around $7k in maintenance since. Clutch is $900, alternator is $450, ball joints are $500, water pump $400, tires (sport) $700 & brakes $300 done every other year. It has some quirky things too. LED displays (radio & odm) go dim/out, radiator necks break, coolant lever sensors go bad, paint chips/rusts way to easy. All in all a great ride, but you're gonna pay.
Santa brought a 1997 red BMW 5 speed convertible to our house on Christmas morning in 2006. My wife absolutely loves this car. We took a ride along the southern half of the Blue Ridge Parkway this summer with the top down and it was an incredible trip. We have had (knock on wood) no problems and no repairs since the day we got it. All we have done in two years is change the oil. Some day the top will need to be replaced but we knew that when we got it. I compare this to a 1986 Buick "T" type I bought new that was suppose to be GM's answer to the BMW. I spent $16K on the Buick, had it 9 years and put over $17K of my own money in repairs. I now know, if you want a BMW, then buy a BMW!
The car is 12 years old and the red paint looks brand new and convertibles a soooo much fun to cruise in on a beautiful summer night
We like everything about this car. The dealer wants about $4K for a new top so that will hurt, especially considering the value of the car isn't too much more than that, but hopefully we can find a specialty shop that can do a good job for a little less.
Today, I love this car. Never felt like this before; she handles so tight, races at every light. That is, after $3k in repairs; had to get new body electronics module, A/C heater module, struts, balljoints, bushings, power steering hoses and still need to get aux fan and new top. Too much for the 85000 miles it has seen. In hindsight not the brightest purchase I ever made, but now that the painful part is over, this is the most fun I've ever had on four wheels. At least while driving.
I love my 328i, but it costs, financially and physically, to maintain it! So far I have had to replace the radiator, radiator fluid tank, fuel pump, drive and ac belts, wiper motor, and thermostat (and I am only the second owner!). My dad, who loves to and can fix anything, HATES working on my car, but he does it reluctantly. It's too low to the ground to fit a normal jack under it, you need odd-sized tools, and the lay out under the hood is way to complicated. But I guess thats the price you pay for a lasting vehicle.
The sound system, heated seats, gas mileage isn't bad, leather interior, decent in the snow with good winter tires, the computer that tells you the outside temp, gas range, average speed, etc, the spare tire is a REAL tire and I have 235000 miles and it is still going.
I come from a Honda family, owning an unkillable (and I tried) Accord before the BMW, and so my standards for how a car should be built were set a little high. Most people "warned" me about buying a used european car claiming I'll be on the side of the road or with a monstrous repair bill in no time, but my BMW is still running strong. However, if you want this car and have low maintenance costs, be prepared to do a little work yourself. Labor is where shops will overcharge BMW owners and so doing basic jobs like brake pads or changing the oil will save you a ton of money if you do it yourself. Take care of it and it'll last longer than most cars on the road.
The mileage (25 city/31 hwy/28 ave), the handling, the grip with 17" M rims, the compact yet usable size, the comfort and luxury features. Plus the smooth, strong power mated to great 5-speed transmission and great brakes w/ABS & traction control completes the whole package. Great sense of safety.
Cupholders aren't useful, but few imports in the 90s had ones that were. Rear seat is small, but sedan has the exact same interior measurements as coupe (except with a little more rear headroom). Better headlights as US plastic ones always look murky.