1999 BMW 3 Series Review

Pros & Cons

  • BMW rewrites their best seller. Bigger and more luxurious than last year, the 3-Series should quell complaints about the former model's only shortcoming.
  • Not all the models get revised at the same time. Coupe and convertible fans will have to make do with the former design.
List Price Estimate
$1,171 - $2,824

Used 3 Series for Sale
None for sale nearby. Instead:
See all for sale

cash graphic with confetti

Get More For Your Trade-In

1999 BMW 3 Series appraisal values can range from $717 - $2,456.
Find out what your car is really worth in minutes.
See your car's value

Edmunds' Expert Review

Vehicle overview

BMWs are all about performance, but during the last two decades, BMWs have also come to the attention of those looking for prestige. This last group has had a profound impact on the company's fortunes, making BMW the second-best selling German manufacturer in the United States.

Things have changed since 1966, including the name of BMW's smallest line of cars. Since 1977, BMW has referred to these models as the 3-Series, and for the 1999 model year, the 328i and 323i sedans receive a complete redesign. Next year, expect the remainder of the lineup to follow suit.

The coupe, hatchback and convertibles do receive some new equipment for 1999, though. The 318ti Sport comes equipped with 16-inch alloy wheels, 225/50ZR-16 tires, leather/cloth sport seats, sport suspension, M-aero package, leather-covered M steering wheel, shifter and handbrake, fog lights and side airbags.

The 323is Coupe and 323i Convertible get an option change on their Sport Packages, which includes new 16-inch alloy wheels and the M sport three-spoke steering wheel. The 328is Coupe has new standard Streamline alloy wheels and its Sport Package adds the M steering wheel and the M-aero package, which includes a front spoiler, rear air diffuser, side skirts and wide body side moldings with "M" badging. Look for the same changes to the 328i Convertible's Sport Package as well as its standard leather upholstery. This drop top's Premium Package also includes new Yew wood trim and an on-board computer.

While many things have changed in the past 20 years, some things luckily have not. BMW is still recognized as a marque of high quality and affluence. The two-door models available in the manufacturer's 3-Series lineup have some nice interior enhancements this year, but wait until 2000 for the cosmetic changes that are likely to win your business, if not your heart.

1999 Highlights

New standard goodies adorn 3 Series two-door models in 1999.

Consumer reviews

Read what other owners think about the Used 1999 BMW 3 Series.

Trending topics in reviews

Most helpful consumer reviews

1999 BMW 323I
John doe,12/31/2005
328i 2dr Convertible
This car is the best car I have ever owned in reliability, fun to drive, and utility. It has only been in the shop a few times for routine maintenance and performs nicely to this day.
Great old second car
323i 4dr Sedan
Bought my 99 323i in September of 2012 with around 150k miles on it. I have the automatic base model which doesn't include power seats or fog lamps. But has every other option such as leather and sunroof. Got it for around $5,200 with a 1yr unlimited mile warranty. Bought as a second car to keep the miles down on my 2011 VW Passat. Starter began to stick when weather turned really cold and was replaced at local BMW dealer under warranty ($750 bill) also had an issue with the left turn signal blinking continuously even when it wasn't engaged ($350 parts and labor). Overall not bad for a car bought cheap and is 14yrs old. Drives like a dream. A little thirsty on gas for a 6 cyl engine.
99 Convertibles Rock
323i 2dr Convertible
So far have logged 190k miles. I run 10k miles between oil changes with full synthetic and drive hard and fast. This dream car has held up perfectly. I can get just under 30mpg if I keep the speed below 70. No leaks, doesn't burn oil and still looks like a new car. Repair history: replaced radiator (185k miles); brakes once (front at 90k and rears at 110k - nearly 90% of my driving is highway. Control arms at 100k, HVAC unit at 90K and one tune up at 100k. Advice - DIY for repairs (great websites out there for "how-to" advice and it is pretty easy to work on); buy parts from a reputable aftermarket company. Buy a wind deflector and put the top down!!
Best. first car. ever.
323i 2dr Convertible
I've only had this car for 2 weeks, and it's definitely a huge change from my dad's volvo wagon. Fuel economy is decent, especially for a car with a 6 cylinder engine, averaging 21 mpg (25-35hw). Backseat room was a pleasant surprise-2 5'8+ guys can fit in the back, no problem. I've put 1,200 miles on it, and so far no problems. I get tons of compliments on my car, the heated seats are nice for a New Yorker, and the sound system is great for a 12 year old car. Road noise actually isn't bad The only thing I don't like is the cup holders.It's fine for a little cappuccino or a giant sweet tea, but anything in between doesn't stay in and I just hold it between my legs.:/


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

More about the 1999 BMW 3 Series
More About This Model

I'm now convinced that there is a strange and mystical laboratory somewhere deep within the walls of BMW's industrial complex. A secret place kept hidden from prying spy cameras and nosey automotive journalists. This special work area must be filled with a level of exotic decor and wondrous machinery that would no doubt rival a scene out of Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. To fully appreciate the sorcery contained within these walls, you must first realize that I'm not talking about wind tunnels or computer animations or even high-speed test tracks, though I'm sure BMW has access to all of those tools as well. No, this magical place goes beyond mere mathematical formulas or intense focus groups and taps into a realm that few automotive companies even know exists. And how can I be so certain of this otherworldly presence? That's easy; I've driven the new 3.

Before I get into the new 3 Series, I want to pay proper homage to the "old" 3 Series (which, by the way, will still be available throughout the 1999 model year in coupe and convertible form). Since 1992, the 3 Series has presented driving enthusiasts with a midpriced sports sedan unmatched in pure road-going thrill. Whether it was the comfortable, competent 328i or the dynamic, uncompromising M3, BMW's E36 platform gave its drivers the kind of vehicular experience that few automobiles, at any price, could match. Telepathic road-feel, precise steering feedback and racetrack-inspired shifting action; these made up the core characteristics of the E36 3 Series. If BMW hadn't changed a thing on this model line, it would have remained competitive for several years.

But BMW doesn't like to compete--they like to dominate. And that's exactly what the new, E46 platform 3 Series is going to do: dominate the Sports Sedan class. By addressing the old platform's weak points while simultaneously enhancing its strengths, BMW has "evolutionized" what was already a superb car.

The most obvious changes to the new 3 Series come by way of its reshaped body and include a new front end, wider wheel arches, and a more rounded roofline. The headlights now feature "cut outs" below the lenses which emphasize the traditional BMW quad headlight design. This not only gives the new platform a distinctive look, but also improves headlight performance by 30 percent. Since our test model was outfitted with the "Sport Package" it was riding on 17-inch cast alloy wheels with 225/45-17 tires (16-inch wheels are standard on the 328i while the new 323i comes with 15-inch wheels standard). Between the tall wheels, short tires, and exaggerated wheel arches, our Steel Blue 328i looked like it had just finished doing hot laps on a Super Touring race circuit. The car garnered a fair amount of looks while driving through West L.A. and I'm certain the wheel-and-tire combo, in conjunction with the flared arches, had more to do with its head-turning ability than any other styling cue.

But Bimmers aren't just about style. If they were, we'd have to group them in with all those other cars that lose their appeal once you slide behind the wheel. Thankfully, BMW knows that in a vehicle class as competitive as the current Sport Sedan arena, good looks will take you only so far. Of all the traits on which a vehicle can be judged, performance and functionality are the two key aspects that define the success of a sport sedan.

In terms of performance, the previous 3 Series was already successful and, for this reason, BMW decided to make only moderate changes to what was already a class-leading design. Both the 323i and 328i receive improvements to their respective drivetrains. Among these are a lighter aluminum block, a more advanced variable valve timing system (called Double VANOS), and a dual resonance intake system. Taken together, these advances result in higher torque numbers at lower engine rpm. Previously, maximum torque was achieved at 3,950 rpm, but the new 2.8-liter, six-cylinder engine tops out at 206 pound-feet of torque at an even more useful 3,500 rpm. This makes for a noticeable increase in throttle response as well as better acceleration numbers. In the new 328i, horsepower is up by three, for a total of 193 at 5,500 rpm. This was good enough to sling our five-speed equipped test unit from zero-to-60 mph in just 6.3 seconds and through the quarter-mile in 14.9 seconds at 98 mph. If you're not the shifting type, a five-speed automatic that features BMW's Adaptive Transmission Control (already found in the 7 and 5 Series) will be available in the new 3 Series.

Aiding in overall vehicle performance is a body structure that is almost twice as resistant to torsional bending as was the E36 platform. Combined with a stronger and lighter set of suspension components, a wider track and a refined suspension geometry, the new 3 Series handles even better than its already stellar predecessor. Aluminum now makes up 21.3 percent of the suspension weight with a total of 6.6 pounds less unsprung weight between the front and rear suspension.

What about the magic I spoke of earlier? This is where it manifests itself. It's in the perfectly weighted steering wheel that makes the $37,000 328i feel like an exotic, six-figure sports car. It's in the clairvoyant suspension that seems to meet, evaluate and dispose of each road imperfection during the split-second they're in contact with each other. Certainly the smooth-revving and torquey six is a joy, but it's in the spiritualistic suspension that BMW let its wizards run wild. Maybe the new 911 has better feedback and maybe the Viper provides more ultimate stick, but only the new 3 has mastered the art of bringing all aspects of superior handling together in one comfortable, confident package.

And comfortable it is. The new car boasts five more cubic feet of interior space with some of the biggest improvements coming in rear leg (0.8 inches) and rear shoulder (0.9 inches) room. The stiffer and smoother body, plus the smoother engine, contribute to less road noise and a more tranquil atmosphere that is almost on par with the 5 and 7 Series. Interior touches like the brushed aluminum trim, one-touch power window switches (for all four doors), ambiance lighting, improved automatic climate controls and power driver's seat with three-position memory bump the 328i up several levels in the luxury-car food chain.

For safety-sticklers who demand the latest in high-tech protection, the new 3-Series includes an All Season Traction system and (new this year on the 3 Series) Cornering Brake Control (CBC). Both of these systems are designed to keep the driver in full control under extreme weather conditions and/or when he does something unwise like lifts off the accelerator and brakes hard in midcorner. CBC is specifically capable of modulating the brake pressure separately at each wheel to keep the vehicle from sliding sideways under hard braking while in a turn. I felt the system kick in only once during a spirited drive along twisting Mulholland Highway above Los Angeles and, as advertised, it helped me stay on the proper side of the double yellow line after entering a turn just a little too "hot." Of course, ABS is standard on every BMW and it hauled this model down from 60 mph in just 126 feet.

If one somehow manages to overcome the new 3's idiot-proof driving systems, he can rest easy in the knowledge that three separate airbags are waiting to inflate around him. Besides the standard issue, (depowered) front airbags, there are also side airbags and the new Head Protection System (HPS) airbags that will protect the driver and front passenger in the event of a serious impact. Rear-seat side airbags can be ordered as an additional safety option and all-new 3 Series come with energy absorbing padding at the A-, B- and C-pillars.

So is there anything not to like about the new 3 Series? Of course! What kind of automotive journalist would I be if I couldn't find something to gripe about? The steering-wheel mounted buttons for changing radio stations are too small and, despite a well-designed center console, there's no real storage bin to be found. I couldn't even find a compartment big enough to hold cassettes, much less CDs. However, the change holder is one of the most innovative pieces of work I've seen.

Performance, luxury, roominess, safety and style. Proclaiming that the new 3 Series "has it all" may sound like an overused cliche. Problem is, it's also the most accurate way to describe BMW's latest wunderwagen.

Used 1999 BMW 3 Series Overview

The Used 1999 BMW 3 Series is offered in the following submodels: 3 Series Hatchback, 3 Series Sedan, 3 Series Coupe, 3 Series Convertible. Available styles include 318ti 2dr Hatchback, 328i 4dr Sedan, 323i 4dr Sedan, 328i 2dr Convertible, 323i 2dr Convertible, 328is 2dr Coupe, and 323is 2dr Coupe. Pre-owned BMW 3 Series models are available with a 1.9 L-liter gas engine or a 2.8 L-liter gas engine or a 2.5 L-liter gas engine, with output up to 193 hp, depending on engine type. The Used 1999 BMW 3 Series comes with rear wheel drive. Available transmissions include: 5-speed manual.

What's a good price on a Used 1999 BMW 3 Series?

Shop with Edmunds for perks and special offers on used cars, trucks, and SUVs near Ashburn, VA. Doing so could save you hundreds or thousands of dollars. Edmunds also provides consumer-driven dealership sales and service reviews to help you make informed decisions about what cars to buy and where to buy them.

Which used 1999 BMW 3 Serieses are available in my area?

Shop Edmunds' car, SUV, and truck listings of over 6 million vehicles to find a cheap new, used, or certified pre-owned (CPO) 1999 BMW 3 Series for sale near. Simply research the type of car you're interested in and then select a used car from our massive database to find cheap prew-owned vehicles for sale near you. Once you have identified a used vehicle you're interested in, check the AutoCheck vehicle history reports, read dealer reviews, and find out what other owners paid for the Used 1999 BMW 3 Series.

Can't find a used 1999 BMW 3 Seriess you want in your area? Consider a broader search.

Find a used BMW 3 Series for sale - 8 great deals out of 19 listings starting at $10,657.

Find a used BMW for sale - 5 great deals out of 18 listings starting at $13,903.

Find a used certified pre-owned BMW 3 Series for sale - 3 great deals out of 8 listings starting at $11,108.

Find a used certified pre-owned BMW for sale - 10 great deals out of 21 listings starting at $15,860.

Should I lease or buy a 1999 BMW 3 Series?

Is it better to lease or buy a car? Ask most people and they'll probably tell you that car buying is the way to go. And from a financial perspective, it's true, provided you're willing to make higher monthly payments, pay off the loan in full and keep the car for a few years. Leasing, on the other hand, can be a less expensive option on a month-to-month basis. It's also good if you're someone who likes to drive a new car every three years or so.

Check out BMW lease specials
Check out BMW 3 Series lease specials