BMW 320 Touring - Ian
I'm about to buy a 1996N 58k E36 6 cylinder touring on the basis it'll give hatch back like flexibility with the same kind of room as the saloon which I can just about live with. Do they handle to a similar extent as the saloon? I know estate space-wise there is no contest but I also figure they have less of an image problem

I recently sold a 94L 318i which had the dreaded curse (having own a 1979 Ford Escort in my youth!) of the rusting rear wheel arches, I was surprised to see this on a supposed premium car figuring even the italians had cracked it by this point, and I've seen older 3 series without this problem, anyone else had this problem on the E36. I'd expect the body to last a long time, think maybe this particular car had been towing something heavy..possible tyre to wheel arch contact!?

Any views on the infamous high bore wear on 6 cylinder bm's, how big a problem is it? can't see BM having to rebuild the engine of every 6 cylinder in the country? does a compression test show it up, would the lack of blue smoke mean it's ok?

All comments much appreciated, I know BM's get slagged off for the people they attract but I defy anyone to say even the 4 cylinder models aren't a damn good drive!

Re: BMW 320 Touring - Rebecca
I just changed from a 320 saloon to a 318 Touring and was told that as the wheelbase is the same on the saloon/touring, the handling would be the same between the two options. (Unless of course you've packed the boot with a full heavy load).

The rest of your question is too techie for me...
Re: BMW 320 Touring - Ian

Thanks for that, how do you find the difference in performance between the 320 saloon and 318 touring, what about fuel consumption as well. I've owned a 318 previously so your views on the difference between the two would be useful (particularly mpg)

Re: BMW 320 Touring - Rebecca
err....I've only had the new one for a couple of weeks, but based on that I have noticed a difference (reduction) in power, albeit a slight one. The 320 (L reg) felt heavier and more solid somehow, but the 318 is very responsive and I'm very pleased with it. I went for the smaller 1.9 engine because of the tax on private fuel. The 320 is now a 2.1 and would have added another £50 or so each month to my tax bill.

Can't say I've noticed a difference in fuel consumption either way. I drive about 20-30 miles a day mostly in suburban traffic and a short Motorway run, with the aircon on . The computer reckons I average 26-27 mpg. We will be driving to the South of France this month, so that will be a good test.

Forgot to say earlier that the Lreg was rust free on the wheel arches, but did have a rust problem near the door seal (accident free). The dealer claimed it was very unusual.

Hope that helps.
Re: BMW 320 Touring - Piers
Not sure about BMWs but many estate varients have stiffer springs to handle higher loads - this pushes the ride / handling balance towards handling for an unladen estate.

However you've got more weight higher up (higher overall C of G) and a massive hole where the saloon has a bulkhead / cross member so have a less stiff bodyshell. This is probably purely academic though unless you go to very hard and rose jointed rear suspension and take it on the race track.....

Vans often have even stiffer springs (must be why you see so many 'Astra Max' vans being driven so well - the handling flatters the drivers.........)

Re: BMW 320 Touring - Phil Goodacre
Having had a number of BMW 3 series over the years, I can honestly say that the 6 cylinder is a delight. The 320 (E36) is perhaps not quite the performer that it could be but it is oh so smooth and refined. I recall mine averaging about 32mpg on mixed driving and 37 on a long motorway run. The 323 is the best compromise of power over economy. As for rust, yes mine rusted on the rear arches. I owned it for 3 of its 4 years and it was always pampered. There were no stone chips, no caked mud in the arches and no sign that the sealant had broken down. The franchised dealer tried to argue that it was not covered under warranty but after a discussion in the showroom (crowded) at some volume, calling into question the value of BMWs' image and the warranty, they backed down and paid for its repair, but at a local bodyshop, not their own. I was not a happy bunny and, as they had filled the arch, decided to sell it as soon as possible. I traded it in for a 328Sport. Others I have spoken to have told me that the problem usually arises when either accident damage is poorly repaired or when the arches are 'scrolled' to accomodate bigger wheels and it isn't done by an authourised dealer.
Re: BMW 320 Touring - John Slaughter

Yes, I'd agree - the BMW 6 is a lovely engine. I've a 323 coupe - plenty of go, but it will average 32 - 36 to the gallon. My old (E30) 318i was no better on fuel.

Bit dimayed by this wheel arch rusting - I've not seen many rusty BMW's myself, and I'd be inclined to suspect poor quallity repairs at some stage.


Re: BMW 320 Touring - Ian
Thanks Phil, I was hoping mine was a one off as I think the this particular car had towed something heavy in it's life and there is not an awful amount of clearance even on 15" wheels. Has anybody else seen this problem on E36's, I know it's a late eighties design but I still think this problem should have been eliminated by then on a supposedly premium german marque. I sold my previous car like you as soon as it emerged as it is next to impossible to get rid of once it starts short of replacing the arch piece itself £££!

Economy sounds excellent (compared to wife's 2.0 Saab convertible with impreza style consumption and fiesta style performance!). I want the extra torque and smoothness over the 4 cylinder models, the budget won't quite run to a 323i but I take your point.
Re: BMW 320 Touring - Stu
I was looking recently at the 3 series touring range because of the estate load capabilities (family etc) but was suprised that the load compartment was not that big. certainly not samsonite swallowing..........Sure it will do the job?
Re: BMW 320 Touring - Marc
I was under the impression that the 3 series "touring" was more of a lifestyle holdall (cliche i know) than a traditional load swallowing estate as such. No?

Fascinated by the reports of rust on these cars nonetheless
Re: BMW 320 Touring - Ian
While we're on the beauty of BMW 6 cylinders, has anyone experience of the sulphur bore wear problem. It seems to be pretty extensive, I've spoken to a dealer who says it is largely a regional problem (linked to particular refineries?)

That same dealer says an irregular idle (due to uneven cylinder power) is one giveaway. Bit worried I'll buy a 60k mile with no problems only to find it needs a rebuild at 80k! I get the impression from the dealer that if it happens, it happens early in the life and creates major oil consumption rather a gradual deterioration of the engine life.

Thanks for all the comments previously. This site is excellent, full of practical info not the stuff you get on those obsessive american auto sites about polishing oil filler caps and $300 car wax!!!

Re: BMW 320 Touring - Phil Goodacre
The only units you should be wary of are the 2.8 pre March 1998 versions that did not have steel liners. Later versions were modified. All the instances that I am aware of resulted in the engine being replaced at BMWs cost.
Re: BMW 320 Touring - Robert Major
Just wanted to check if "new' came up on old threads
Re: BMW 320 Touring - Robert Major
It does
Re: BMW 320 Touring - Mark (Brazil)
but nobody notices..........

Value my car