Good grief, it’s one other anniversary! We’re barely late to this one, however solely by months. The BMW E46 3 Sequence was launched in April 1998. Who remembers the “DNA” adverts? To suppose, we’ve got moved on one other three generations now, however some are nonetheless saying that the E46 was the perfect.
The E46 3 Sequence: A traditional within the making
That’s nonsense, in fact. There’s higher, and there may be preferable. I’m not proof against the charms of the E46 3 Sequence, and I’ve owned and pushed a number of. My first was a 320d Touring purchased from BMW at a yr outdated. It was excellent, and I solely bought it as a result of I needed to be wise. I traded it in on the similar BMW dealership for a barely older 840Ci. Nicely, it was simply sitting there, and I can resist the whole lot besides temptation.
I’m sufficiently old to recall BMW 2002s and E21s. My father labored for BMW and introduced dwelling a really early E30 323i simply after Christmas 1982, two or three months earlier than the UK launch. So, E30s have an emotional attachment. However progress marches on, and the 1991 E36 was nearly a Concorde second for BMW. Positive, a number of the trim wasn’t that nice on early vehicles, however simply take a look at what else was on the market in ’91. An Audi 90? Simply neglect it.
Evidently, I turned an E36 fanboy and went on the 1995 launch of the revised 323i and 328i vehicles in Southern Spain. Might BMW ever beat this? Nicely, sure, they may.
In 1996, the E39 5 Sequence arrived, and on the time it was thought of the proper all-round automotive by many. I at all times loved my time in them. Now, if solely BMW made that automotive however a dimension down. We would like the identical inside, the identical switchgear high quality, the identical refinement, and that normal “we’ve considered the whole lot” sort of vibe. What BMW did was to refine the E36 with a splash of E39, and the essential format of the E46 is identical because the 1991, full with the rear Z axle.
Audi had stolen a march in 1995 with the frankly glorious first-generation A4, a automotive which, though not fairly as sharp to drive as an E36, had it overwhelmed for inside end and normal loveliness. I’m not an Audi fan in any respect, however I used to be shocked at simply how full it was. From the essential 1.6 to the two.8 Quattro, this was now the automotive to beat.
The E46 3 Sequence: The perfect BMW I’ve ever pushed?
My first drives of the E46 3 Sequence had been invariably of the four-cylinder rent automotive selection. In truth, it was a black 318i saloon rented from Hamburg Flughafen by way of Sixt. It was a primary one too, with metal wheels, material seats, handbook air-con controls, and a cassette participant.
After all, it was excellent. That is the factor about vehicles: you must drive the most cost effective variations to essentially get the design, as a result of a extremely good base model is a nice platform for the costly variations. The 318i drove like a dream. It had a compliant trip, good steering, a slick gearshift, and the driving place that BMW will get proper each single time. I’d been involved in regards to the outdated M43 engine, albeit revised from a 1.8 liter into the a lot improved 1.9 liter TU model. An iron-block 8-valve engine wasn’t setting fireplace to a lot on paper in comparison with the multivalve Japanese stuff, however in actuality, it was nice. BMW tuned it to present glorious mid-range torque, and you would actually row it alongside. It felt and drove like a BMW, not a Honda.
Sure, the 320i with the six was smoother and sweeter, if not a lot sooner, the 323i sort of misplaced in no man’s land, and the 328i actually fairly brisk. From 2000, the newly M54-powered 325i and 330i had been actually helpful, and the Coupe model…sure please. I by no means drove the M3 sufficient to type a sound opinion, however the 330Ci Coupe with the handbook ‘field appeared quick sufficient again then.
BMW’s first “Satan’s Gasoline” diesel
I talked about BMW diesels some time in the past, nevertheless it was with the E46 that “Satan’s Gasoline” BMWs actually gained traction. The E36 diesels had been okay—the 325tds was fairly brisk and frugal, however the four-cylinder 318tds with its 90 horsepower, 1.655-liter engine was a missed alternative. It was nicknamed the “318 Tedious” for a purpose. However with the E46 3 Sequence, BMW launched the 320d with its new 16-valve, 2.0-liter M47 engine. BMW profitable the 1998 Nürburgring 24 Hours with such a automotive definitely gave discover of intent. In truth, I bear in mind attempting to get an indicated 150 miles per hour out of one of many revised 150 horsepower variations on the Autobahn again in 2002. I solely managed to stand up to 140, nevertheless it was effort.
Nowadays, the E46 is courting with traditional standing, which to me means numerous cash for outdated vehicles. Pretty much as good as they had been new, I discover them a ache in outdated age, as the selections taken to allow simpler manufacturing rebound onto the mechanic fixing them.
The E90 took some getting used to again in 2005, however the next years’ E92 Coupe was the one which made me neglect all in regards to the older automotive. What a reasonably automotive! After which we had the primary 4 Sequence (I used to be simply knocked out by the 428i). We transfer on, however I’ve mentioned earlier than that the perfect BMW you should purchase is the one they’re making proper now. Some marques declare heritage, however BMW have really earned it.