Bought it new and haven't regretted one day of ownership. Tracked it a Buttonwillow in California and that was what made me a believer. Before that I thought I just had a nice coupe. It has unbelievable handling. As the driving instructor said, don't change anything on the car. What needs to be modified is the driver. Been very dependable overall, but there have been many owner fixable repairs, if you are handy. Door panels will need to be regaled if left in hot climate, cooling system is actually not bad IF you change the cooling fluid every three years. Warning! If you put Bilstein shocks on, yur spouse may think the ride is too harsh. Have no plans to sell.
I have owned this car for almost 2 years now, and it just feels great to drive. Check the "Melted Rubber" web site for a thorough review.
With 230 HP, it is not going to win too many drag races; and I only get 25 mpg with 95% freeway driving. I could probably squeeze a couple more out of it, but it is practically impossible not to be a leadfoot.
One thing to watch out for if you get one is the routine maintenance. It is typical for people to neglect this until 130,000+ miles, at which point the car will likely need shocks, bushings, etc all around and a clutch.
BMW st^H^H dealers have turned overcharging into an art form - finding a good independent mechanic will save you a fortune.
Handling is what this car is all about.
In its day it was the best handling car money could buy.
Throttle response is great, the transmission shifter is just right with close ratios to keep it right in the sweet spot after shifting near the red line.
It is fairly easy to do routine maintenance yourself.
Definitely get an engine code reader so you won't have to guess what the "check engine" light means.
Bring back the "quart low" oil sensor from the E30 - why in God's name would you ever get rid of this feature?
It would be nice if the shocks & bushings lasted longer.
If you buy one make sure the previous owner kept up on the "routine" maintenance -- or else price in a couple grand to replace shocks, bushings, control arms.
I have had my 4 door M3 since 2003. I bought it from a private dealership with only 17K miles on it. I added the Dinan software one day at the dealership on a whim and wow 155 mph and I had to stop. It might have done 160, but who knows, I could also have gone to jail because of that. Used it as a daily drive until 2007. Now it is strictly for weekends and appointments. I have a truck for daily use now. Now have 107K miles. Normal maintenance and no major problems thus far. I could keep this car forever. My 9 year old son loves it and wants me to keep it for him when he gets 16. Yeah right!
Quick and handles great. Great gas mileage on highway (29 mpg). Try and get that out of a 0-60 car in under 6 sec. Harmon Kardon sound system not bad for stock. Lot's of fun to drive. Just beat Ford Mustang GT in race from signal light. You should have seen their eyes when I waved goodbye.
Cup holders too small. As others noted problems with tail light bulbs. Just change the fitting and that will fix the problem. Don't change the whole assy like the dealership wants. A/C could be better. Boy does it goes through tires. Wished the seats were automatic. Too many manual adjustments
Owned this car for almost 10 years, love it almost as much as my family. It stays parked most of the winter, but now that spring has sprung, pop the top and hit the twisties. It handles like a slot car, nothing tracks better. Not the most powerful, but the horsepower race is overrated. Mine is a 5 speed, a 6th cog would be nice, but NEVER would I consider a self-shifter. Car is all smiles :-) Even 12 years old I still find people gathering around it in parking lots.
Handling handling handling. Comfort at speed. Built like a Swiss watch, (almost) everything screams quality. And a drop top to boot.
6th gear, glass rear window, faster top mechanism. All these have been addressed in later models, but would not trade for any of these (even if I could afford it). They don't have the same panache.
I love this car. I wish it would last forever. I bought it used with 15K miles on it in 2002. I have driven it 90K+ miles with 100% reliability, it has never broken down once. This car is so much fun to drive that I can't imagine stepping down to any other car. I am forever spoiled! With 105K miles, this car still feels new. This is not exactly an inexpensive car to own. I get about 23 MPG in mixed city/hwy driving. Tires cost $1K every 25K miles. I have probably spent $5K+ on routine maintenance during the seven years I have owned it. Who cares though, what I love about this car is that it has 4 doors, hauls, gets 23+ MPG, has achieved 100% reliability to date, and is a blast to drive.
Comfy seats, excellent 5-speed transmission, hauls, decent gas mileage.