Decent rear wheel drive handling. Some status. Wide choice second-hand.
Unremarkable looks. Handling not quite as enjoyable as E36. Turbo and injector problems with diesels. Expensive problems at 10 years old +.
Latest Update BMW 3-Series E46 1998-2005: Significant numbers seem to be failing the new, more comprehensive MoT for airbag warning lights on. One reader had to pay £1,500 to have this rectified, though there may have been a cheaper solution using Airbagman
14-12-2012: 4-cylinder petrol engines can be susceptible to the sump bolts loosening themselves. May have dropped out altogether. Worth checking.
10-12-2012: Heavy oil consumption problem of 4-cylinder petrol engines may be cured by replacing 'O' ring oil seals form the Valvetronic solenoids at the front of the engine.