I bought this car new in 99 and have had only minor problems since (brakes at 50, shocks and suspension at 80) but otherwise this car is a tank. No major problems and best of all I am still getting almost 27 mpg. One complaint is the dealership maintenance. Don't go there if you can help it, they charge 2x what a good local mechanic who knows BMWs does. If you have a late model BMW do yourself a favor and find a reputable local mechanic whom you can trust to fix your car.
First BMW, got another one (06 330i) even with the minor issues I had with this one. Caution on getting the first year of a new generation (1999 E46 in this case). Should have waited for the bug fixes. Good handling, styling. Had to replace 4 window regulators, 2 cooling fans and 1 control arm. Broken sunroof shade. BMW owner should know that these cars are high performance = high maintenance. Tires will wear out in 20k miles.
I have always enjoyed BMWs, I drove my first one back in 04 when my mom gave me a hand-me-down 325i 94. It was a great car for a just out of high school kid to have. I now drive an E46 99 and this is by far an excellent vehicle. The fact that these cars are very electronically sophisticated makes it almost imperative that they be taken to an authorized BMW tech for service every time the engine light comes on and for all tune ups. These cars are very fragile and not as durable as others.
The engine sound interior and exterior are my favorite parts about this vehicle.
Feels as solid as a tank. Could be quicker but fun nonetheless. Handles as if on rails. The controls are in all of the right places. Looks to kill. Perfect car, but it's an absolute money pit to own. Spent $6000 on repair bills including water pump, computer ($2000), rear-end bushings, 3 window actuators ($375/each) and other misc. parts. Dealer wanted to do even more repairs totaling $4000 (replacing radiator and expansion tank was $2500!). Walk away uless it comes with a very good extended warranty.
Bought this vehicle for myself with 97000 miles and fully loaded with no apparent deficits (one owner vehicle). Body, engine, paint, interior, exterior in immaculate condition. Have driven it on long and short trips and it continues to elicit stares from lexus and benz owners. This vehicle is made for driving!!