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Used car buying guide: BMW 3 Series (E46)


The sporty coupé version, called the 330Ci Club Sport, is sought after. Manual versions can do 0-62mph in 6.5sec and it looks an eyeful in Estoril Blue. Prices start at around £4000.

The saloon and estate models were facelifted in 2001 (receiving revised light lenses and bumpers), and the coupé and convertible the year after.

E46s are tough old things but suffer for being owned by people who can’t afford to run them. Cheap brake parts and tyres and missed services are common. Many have been drifted, too – even the diesels.

Because there’s more under-bonnet space, the four-pot cars are easier to work on than six-cylinder ones, while the engines themselves aren’t canted over so don’t suffer the same issues (see Buyer Beware, right). Bear this in mind when you’re drooling over that 330Ci…

How to get one in your garage

An expert’s view

Zoe Coghlan, The Bavarians

“I love the E46 3 Series. I’ve owned an M3, a Club Sport and loads of 318is and 320is. They all drive as well as each other – although, of course, some are a lot more powerful. They are generally reliable, but neglect and abuse means there are lots of rogues fit only for the scrapyard. On the other hand, it means the best cars are rising in value. If you have a nice E46, look after it.”



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