I bought the BMW 3 series new in 1999. The car drives incredibly well; however, the reliability is far below competing japanese makes and maintenance costs border on the obscene. In the 84k I've had the car, I've replaced all of the window motors, changed the AC compressor (twice), replaced parts of the front suspension, repaired several fluid leaks and replaced the thermostat (twice). In addition, a new battery was $250, since you can't go to WalMart and buy a battery. The dealer wanted $1,200 for a normal brake service and over $1,000 to change the belts (I went elsewhere, but still expensive).
Interior materials- the cabin looks and feels rich. Drive - it is one of the best cars to drive (but only marginally better than other cars such as the G35, Cadillac CTS or Acura TL).