New car? - owen
I\'m considering a new car (well new to me, it\'ll still be best part of 10 years old!).

I fancy a bit of luxury for a change, and despite swearing i\'d never buy one because of the stigma attached to them, i am tempted by an BMW, either 323 or 325 (the E36 model, 1991ish onwards). I know there are other, less flashy alternatives, but i\'m led to beleive that the beemer is the \"driver\'s car\" choice, which is what i\'m after as opposed to out-and-out luxury.

So gentlemen (and ladies), your thoughts please? Particularly:
1) performance/handling
2) running costs
3) reliability (remembering for the sort of money i want to spend (3-4k, it\'ll be the wrong side of 100k miles)
4) will people really think i\'m a pink fluffy dice?
New car? - CM
I used to run an E36 325tds

(1) More than acceptable unless you really want a track car. From 1996 onwards I think that they came with traction control as standard. I like my drivers aides.
(2) runningn costs aren't that bad if you can get a good independant person to look after it. I have found a very good one who charges a mere (!) £40 an hour labour which isn't bad for London!
(3) I had to upgrade when mine had 80k on the clock. The only problem that I had was a dodgy clutch when new that was changed under warranty
(4) Don't know. Never really bothered me what others thought of me as I am secure within myself.
New car? - Phoenicks
BMW's:

Everyone who has got one loves them

Everyone who hasnt hates them.

You will probably never be let out of junctions. It might get keyed. A 2.5 6 cylinder will cost a bit in fuel and servicing.

however:

the 2.5 engine is fantastic. Parts are easy to get. Specialist labour rates are usually quite low. They're very pokey. Incredibly smooth. Easy to update to look a bit newer if you wish.

Great cars, great engineering, minimal depreciation, reliable and feel like they'll go on forever.

just get a good one....
New car? - Steve S
I haven't got one and I don't hate them. I did have one, a 525 at a the same age that you're looking at.

They do drive very well, The 6 pot is a gem for the reasons Phoenicks has given. The depreciation, build etc. All good, nothing bad provided the history and spec are right.

However,

They are not the last word in comfort. RWD can be tricky in slippery conditions. Many do derive a "feel good factor" purely based on the badge - with some lower spec interiors being really quite shabby.
New car? - Blue {P}
We've owned a 316i from new since 1996.

Only two minor repairs needed in that time, one oil seal and one suspension bush. In total we have spent less than £300 in unscheduled repairs in the last 7 years, which I think is fairly good. :-)

An independant looks after it and is very reasonable.

Very good handling, but obviously sluggish performance with it been a 1.6 :-(

It's quite a comfortable and quiet car to ride in, except for the back which can get a bit cramped, mainly for foot room more than anything else.

On the whole I would say go for it, if you get a reasonable one that hasn't been thrashed it should run reliably and it is quite a comfortable car.

Blue
New car? - owen
Thanks for all your advice. There is a BMW specialist very near me, so that deals with the servicing aspect.

Have to start scouring autotrader now!
New car? - peterb
I haven't owned one, but I drove a colleague's slightly tatty R reg 323i from central London to Folkston and was extremely impressed by the engine, gearbox, handling and steering.

It was this drive that made me decide I wanted a 6 cyl, RWD car. (In the end I got a Lexus IS200 because Mrsb hates BMWs!)
New car? - 8 ball
So gentlemen (and ladies), your thoughts please? Particularly:
1) performance/handling
2) running costs
3) reliability (remembering for the sort of money i want
to spend (3-4k, it\'ll be the wrong side of 100k miles)
4) will people really think i\'m a pink fluffy dice?

I've had a1994 E36 318i for almost 10 years, so:
1. performance obviously nowhere near as good as your proposed 323 or 325 but OK
2. no more expensive than an equivalent Ford or Vauxhall in my estimation (was surprised that servicing was so 'cheap')
3. no probs - still on original exhaust and all running gear apart from tyres, wiper blades and front dics...however...this model suffers from "hot clutch judder". When the car gets very hot on a long run the clutch snatches and judders when being slipped in 1st or reverse unless you get the timing exactly right. I've investigated the problem and been told it's a feature of the car as the clutch plate contains no asbestos. Replacing it would only last a few 000 miles so no point (thought that advice was good of the dealer; maybe could have persuaded me to buy a new clutch). Build quality excellent - very few rattles etc even after all these years.
4, who cares? Show by example the kind of person/driver you are.
good luck
8 ball
New car? - jeds
About a year ago I was in group of 8 people who all changed company cars at about the same time. We test drove the lot. The result was as follows:

2 x series 3 BMW's
1 X Merc
1 X Volvo - D5 I think? (very nice)
1 X Audi A3
1 X Ford focus (yes honestly)
1 X Renault Laguna (the worst of the lot)

and I went for an Audi A6 TDI

(You should understand that we all had different needs and the ones with the higher spec cars had to contribute towards)

On the dissapointment scale the Laguna won by a mile but was followed by both the BMW's. I have since left the company to set up on my own but I am in regular contact with one of the BMW drivers who gives me a lot of work. When I left he applied to take over my Audi (which was a very nice car) but missed out because somebody else, who we don't know, got in first. He was gutted and still is. He absolutely hates the BMW and can't wait to change it.
New car? - Hugo {P}
I Like the BMWs, but have never had one and probably won't.

If you are at all concerned about Phoenicks' BMW hating public you could consider the Audi or Merc equivilents.

A friend of mine has an Audi A4 1.6 and is very pleased with it. It is on a P plate and he paid about £5K two years ago.

I suspect it may be easier to find a good one of these that a BMW 3 Series.

Looking through the Auto Trader there are a number of Merc 190 2.3 etc for reasonable money, and they're much more original.

Hugo
New car? - Pat L
Whether you go for a BMW, Audi or Mercedes my advice is to go for the newest car you can afford with a high mileage, because if they're serviced properly these cars look and feel almost new even at 150-200k. Maybe spend a grand or so more.

Ex-company one driver cars are excellent value, especially if you can miss out the midle man.

Lots of clocked/repaired ones around so be choosy. Inspection worth the money.

Good luck, and let us know what you get!

Pat
New car? - GrumpyOldGit
Fantastic car. One of the best drives I've had, but I'd never own one. I couldn't stand the hatred from other road users. You will always get the blame for the few egocentric, aggressive morons who drive 3 series.
 

Value my car