2008 BMW 135i or 2002 BMW M3 E46? - 2008 BMW 1 Series Long Term Road Test

2008 BMW 1 Series Long Term Road Test

2008 BMW 135i or 2002 BMW M3 E46?

February 04, 2009


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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