2001 BMW 3 Series 325i Rwd 4dr Sport Wagon (2.5L 6cyl 5M)
Seriously. This car needs attention. Do not buy it if you are not willing to give it attention. I'm not sure if I can make that any clearer.
I purchased this car as a graduation present to myself with money that I had saved up working throughout high school when I graduated in 2011. My dad and I are both car nerds. I wanted something that was sporty and had a manual transmission and wasn't your typical Mustang etc. I settled on this car after finding a 2001 Sedan with the manual with ~63k on it.
I will admit that the first ~20k miles were somewhat rough. We probably spent an additional $2-3k catching up on some maintenance that the previous owner had neglected to do, and the dreaded Check Engine light did come on more than I would have liked. Honestly, the vast majority of those repairs were things like oxygen sensors where we could've just fixed it ourselves and have been done with it. This car really isn't terribly hard to work on. I am no mechanic, but I've fixed quite a few things on this car, and it's saved me a ton of money. If you don't feel comfortable fixing it yourself find a good independent shop in your area. The dealer will screw you out the butt when it comes to repair costs. I will say that the car has never left me stranded, and that's not something you can say about a 2001 Mercedes. Trust me.
Like I said earlier. The car needs attention. Make sure to change its fluids and keep a watch out for weird noises, smells, and drivetrain peculiarities (read driveability issues). Doing this will eliminate over half of the possible repair scenarios people have described in these reviews. I'm quite positive that the majority of those leaving negative reviews bought an older BMW expecting it to be just as great on maintenance as a Honda. It is not a Honda; however, if you take care of this car, it will take care of you. Over the last 40k miles or so the only money I have put into this car is consumables (oil, tires, spark plugs, etc), an ignition coil ($75), power steering hoses (~$250), and a dirty injector. I would also like to point out that I would get the manual if I were looking to purchase another one of these, as there are a lot of complaints related to the automatic. The stick is way more fun, it makes the car quicker to 60 (by a full second!), and it's pretty bulletproof. Nuff said.
Now to the part about this girlfriend being beautiful, and I'm not just talking about this car's good looks. This car is THE BEST car when it comes to driving. Not even a modern BMW rivals the steering feel and handling these old E46's have. With the manual transmission this car is sublime. The 330i is comfortable, it's powerful, it handles, and it's relatively quiet. It's not a drag car, but it is amazingly well balanced and fun to drive. Relatively good gas mileage too.
In short, this car is so much fun. Sure, the interior plastics do have a tendency to be brittle after 15 years of sitting in the sun. Sure, parts are more expensive than parts for a Civic. And sure, there are cheaper cars to buy. What there aren't are better driving cars. I've had mine for four years and 60k miles, and the only car I would dream of getting rid of it for is an M3.
2001 BMW 3 Series 325i Rwd 4dr Sport Wagon (2.5L 6cyl 5M)
What a piece of junk! I couldn't get to town and back (10 miles) without having to work on it. Water kept disappearing from the radiator, Leaked oil, head lamps kept going out. Replaced the whole cooing system and sold it. New owner didn't even make it home and had cooling problems. He tells me the head gasket is blown although it had no water in oil or oil in water? Ran smooth and engine made good power. The car is over engineered. Why use a complemented cooing system with the crazy O rings when a hose and clamp work fine? Easy to see why Germany lost WW2. I will never own another.
2001 BMW 3 Series 325Ci Rwd 2dr Coupe (2.5L 6cyl 5M)
I have had this car for 5 years now and it has honestly been amazing, until recently. I always have done all regular maintenance, such as oil changes… etc. Ive also always had it repaired at Euro auto shops. This car was cheap to purchase and can be cheap to maintain, just as long as you GET RID OF IT when it hits between 150-160k miles. Now at around 170k miles it has been in the shop every other month and spent $6000 in the past 5 months, after being every fixed the body shop says it should be good for a year, but a month later something randomly breaks. There hasn't even been any warnings that it would break down… again.
Handles amazing. Fun to drive. Can get descent gas milage. Perfect for road trips. Really comfortable, even though it is a little small. Has been a great car, I just wish it didn't have to end like this.
I wish it would last longer. It currently doesn't run, and i can't afford to put anymore money into it. The reason why i put so much money and kept it for so long is because BMW HAD a good reputation. Everyone told me this car would last forever, but it hasn't:(
2001 BMW 3 Series 325i Rwd 4dr Sedan (2.5L 6cyl 5M)
I feel more confident in this car's handling, safety, and build quality than I've felt with any other car I've driven, even much newer cars. It's like a suit that's been tailored to your every curve and line and fits like a glove. Nothing is out of place. Then again, nothing is extremely endearing either. It's staid and true, if a little conservative. But damn is it great! Despite its age, everything works and it feels like a car that's been around only a few years. Its timeless styling still holds up on a road full of cars 10-15 years newer; you'd never know it was designed last century. Its faults are few, some significant, but none deal-breaking. Dat engine tho! My God, that engine.
Way too much to list here. The overall feel while driving is absolutely unparalleled. It feels like the driver's experience was engineered as much as the car itself. The comfort of the seats, the layout of the interior, the feel and spacing of the pedals, the tightness of the steering. It's a real driver's car, as they say. The build quality is insane. My interior all works and feels tight and like new. The heated seats are quick and get surprisingly toasty if desired. The engine stands out: torquey, straight, smooth, powerful, controllable, and efficient. Sounds great too. I get 31mpg highway and 23 city, despite it being a 6-cyl. Sound system is great. Gearing and clutch are great.
The good outweigh the bad quite a bit with this car, but there are some things. The sunroof shade is notoriously shoddy, and mine is off its track (but still works just fine). The engine has a problem in very cold weather where the oil lines freeze up and clog the oil vent with ice, causing oil blowback and major engine problems...happened to me. BMW put out a replacement crankcase vent system, but who knows how effective it is. The traction control is great, but still, winter driving can be a nightmare in the RWD. One engineering decision baffles me to no end: why do I have to pull the door handle twice to get out? One pull unlocks, another opens. No biggie, just odd. Overall, excellent!!