I remember being invited to the 1998 BMW E46 3 Series Coupe launch (coupe, sedan versions released in 1997) and how this new coupe was the next best 3 series to buy. There is something so fair about the styling of the E46 Coupe that BMW has so well: curvaceous arches, fair proportions and better build quality than previous generations.
Of course, BMW saved the best for last with the silky-smooth three-liter inline-six engine. The first versions were 316Ci, 318Ci, 320Ci, 323Ci, 325Ci and 328Ci, and diesel versions of course. In general, the sporty styling was better than the Special Edition (SE) version with its larger front lower air intake and black lower rear apron.
The body of the E46 has been claimed by BMW to be 70% stiffer than its predecessor E36. Aluminum was used for an increased amount of suspension components to reduce unsprung mass and give the car a 50/50 weight distribution. The E46 was the first 3 Series available with an engine using Valvetronic (variable valve lift). Various electronic features have also been introduced in the 3-series of the E46 generation, including satellite navigation, electronic brake force distribution, rain-sensing wipers and LED tail lights (facelift models).
The 3.0-liter gasoline engine is silky smooth, with an instantly recognizable engine note. It also delivers effortless power. 0-60 mph was 6.5 seconds and on a gentle run you should easily hit mid-thirty MPG. In my opinion, this 228 hp 3.0 liter petrol engine is still one of BMW’s best engines to this day, and it was used throughout the lineup and in other partnerships that BMW had in mind. ‘era.
So fast forward twenty odd years and now those BMW E46 330Ci coupes are getting hard to find, of course the dreaded rust has now surfaced on a lot, especially the front fenders, trunk lids and rear arches. Many have gone to BMW Heaven and others have been converted to track racers. Or simply, just modified (some tastefully, some not).
I now see UK dealers asking almost £ 10,000 for good mileage under 100,000 and that price will only continue to rise. With the E46 M3 versions increasing every month, it becomes difficult to find good straight stock cars. So the next best thing is the BMW 330Ci which actually makes a good everyday driver with the suspension slightly smoother than the M3 and definitely more fuel efficient. Most appear to be automatic rather than manual cars.
Of course there is the slightly less powerful BMW 325Ci and these can be found under the same conditions as the 330Ci models but at a more affordable price. Maybe an individual 325Ci would be the best investment?
600 Clubsport models were made for the UK market, there are only a handful left now, so trying to find a good one now is almost impossible. I saw an example of low mileage at a mint dealership for £ 1 under £ 20,000. The Clubsport model sits perfectly between the 330Ci Sport model and the legendary E46 M3 coupe. Easily distinguished by its distinctive new M rear spoiler, other exterior additions include sport suspension settings and exclusive 18-inch double-spoke alloy wheels. The acoustics have also undergone changes – 20 kg of insulation material has been removed to increase engine noise.
The interior reflects the sporty character of the exterior. Leather / Alcantara sports seats, a shortened “M” shifter, a door sill with the model designation “Clubsport” and a special interior trim in cubic silver aluminum are standard and create an extremely precise driving feel. . Again, for the UK market, the BMW 3 Series Clubsport Coupé E46 was available in three colors: Titanium Silver, Estoril Blue and Velvet Blue.
The other even rarer version was an extremely limited series of special “Williams F1” vehicles to celebrate the partnership. These cars featured fantastic Le Mans Blue metallic paint with contrasting gray and blue leather seats, “William’s” logo embroidery on the headrests, Williams F1 decals on the front fenders and an official number plate on the dashboard. edge.
ALPINA B3 and B3S
Of course, who could forget the ALPINA versions of the E46 330ci. The B3 developed an output of 280 horsepower and went from 0 to 60 mph in 5.7 seconds for the B3 coupe. The B3S had 305 hp and a 0-60 time of 5.4 seconds for the manual versions. The prices of these seem to be somewhere between the Clubsport and the E46 M3, depending on condition and mileage of course. When I searched for ALPINA, I found more E46 convertible versions than coupes in the listings.
BMW’s E46 3 series got a facelift in 2004 with different lights, redesigned front fenders, larger kidney grille before production ended in 2005. There are 2006 cars registered very late. But whether you are looking for a pre-facelift or not, the choice is more and more difficult to find a good one of this classic E46 3 Series coupe.