Used 1997 BMW 3 Series Coupe

1997 BMW 3 Series
List price range

Pros

  • Great steering, top-notch suspension, and nice exterior styling.

Cons

  • Spartan interior and cramped passenger compartment.

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Edmunds' Expert Review

vehicle overview

People buy BMWs for a variety of reasons. BMWs carry an obvious panache that tells the world that you have, indeed, arrived. Driving a BMW also tells the world that you are a person who is young at heart, someone who may want to change their own gears from time to time; unlike, say, a stuffy owner of a Mercedes-Benz, Lexus, or Cadillac. Lastly, BMWs politely tell people that you like to drive, and to please move out of that left lane so you can pass, thank you.

The BMW 3-Series is now in its sixth year of production. Despite this, the car is still fresh and exciting; evoking powerful feelings of desire and jealousy every time we see one cruising down the street. Last year, new engines were introduced to the entire lineup, improving torque for both the four- and six-cylinder models. This year, the M3 sedan makes its way to these shores, and all models receive standard All-Season Traction. Other changes for 1997 include minute styling alterations to the interior and exterior.

The 3-Series is BMW's most popular line of cars because it spans such a broad price range. Starting at just over $20,000 for the fun and cheap 318ti hatchback, the 3-Series reaches its pinnacle at nearly $40,000 with the outstanding, high-performance M3 coupe and sedan. Despite the disparity in prices, the 3-Series models are uniformly fun to drive due to their wonderful chassis, excellent steering, and top-notch suspensions.

We believe that the purchase of a 3-Series car is one of the best ways to get know that twisty stretch of road that you were always afraid to introduce to your Buick Century. If you have the guts and the money, the new 3.2-liter M3 sedan just might be your cup of tea. This is definitely not the car for all people, back seat room is cramped and the limited cargo space make it impractical for large families. But, if you are a person who enjoys driving, the 3-Series is a nice alternative to muscle car machismo. We are thrilled that BMW has exercised restraint in these times of overblown excess. By keeping their revisions to those things that need revising, leaving the core of the vehicle untainted, the 3-Series is able to improve itself, instead of replace itself, every few years.

Top consumer reviews

Read what other owners think about the 1997 BMW 3 Series.

I was in shock up until writing this Review
merc272, 2/4/2012
The one word that pops to mind when i think of this car is "timeless". Its like a well maintained Italian suit, aged with beauty, but always stylish. The throttle response is a little iffy because the pedal seems to have a lengthy discussion with the engine and drive train before kicking me back in the seat. (that's what you get when you let the french design a transmission) never the less I'm never afraid to push it just a little bit more, and hit a blistering speed of 115mph on the highway before backing off the throttle. I was floored, grinning ear to ear like a little kid who had just gotten his first 22. rifle for Christmas. This is truly what a proper sports car should be.
Hidden Costs Of BMW Ownership
ACF, 3/23/2009
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.
A lot of car for the money
fritz, 11/9/2009
I own a 1997 BMW 318iS, it's almost identical to an M3 other than the engine which is the reliable M44 4 cyl. A solid car that is nimble and gets 38mpg highway, 24mpg in town, an average of about 30-32mpg. The S version has a lower M3 like sport suspension, wider stance, and mine was ordered with M3 rims which perfectly suit the car without being gawdy. Regular maintenance will give you a reliable smooth ride. Torquey engine redlines quickly with moderate gas but shifter seems longwinded compared to a 1980's Manual. Nice interior, mine has heated seats that warm up quickly in two modes. Multiple cabin vents. May be small for a larger person. I'm 6' tall and fit nicely. Very fun to drive.
1997 Arctic Silver 328is
urban328is, 4/25/2004
This is my first car, my father bought it for me for $10k. It is Arctic Silver, fully loaded with sports package, 6 disc changer, leather, etc. It does have 132000 miles on it but they are mostly highway miles and this car still drives like it is fresh off the lot. I would highly recommend the 3-series, we have two on the driveway and couildnt be happier with them.
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Features & Specs

MPG
18 city / 26 hwy
Seats 0
5-speed manual
Gas
190 hp @ 5300 rpm
MPG
20 city / 29 hwy
Seats 0
5-speed manual
Gas
138 hp @ 6000 rpm
See all Used 1997 BMW 3 Series Coupe features & specs

Safety

NHTSA Overall Rating

The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration offers independent analysis.
  • Frontal Barrier Crash Rating
    OverallNot Rated
    Driver4 / 5
    Passenger4 / 5
  • Side Crash Rating
    OverallNot Rated
  • Side Barrier Rating
    OverallNot Rated
    DriverNot Rated
    PassengerNot Rated
  • Combined Side Barrier & Pole Ratings
    Front SeatNot Rated
    Back SeatNot Rated
  • Rollover
    RolloverNot Rated
    Dynamic Test ResultNo Tip
    Risk Of RolloverNot Rated
IIHS Rating
The Insurance Institute of Highway Safety uses extensive crash tests to determine car safety.
  • Side Impact Test
    Not Tested
  • Roof Strength Test
    Not Tested
  • Rear Crash Protection / Head Restraint
    Not Tested
  • IIHS Small Overlap Front Test
    Not Tested
  • Moderate Overlap Front Test
    0

More about the 1997 BMW 3 Series
Used 1997 BMW 3 Series Coupe Overview

The Used 1997 BMW 3 Series Coupe is offered in the following styles: 328is 2dr Coupe, and 318is 2dr Coupe.

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