2000 focus 1.6 zetec vs 1998 BMW 323i se - Focus_Driver
I'm looking to replace my current megane 1996 1.6 8v. I used to have a mk1 tdci which was brilliant and another focus would be great - this time a petrol. But I've always wanted to own a BMW but don't know how it compares to the focus. Both cars are about £1300 and 100k miles.

The BMW would be more costly to run and maintain but I only plan to keep it for about a year. What I'm more interested in is which car is the better to drive, around town and for long distance cruising. Reliability is also important.
2000 focus 1.6 zetec vs 1998 BMW 323i se - Jcoventry
My dad owns a Mk1 Focus 1.6 Zetec of similar age - no rust, no problems. Solid car, still drives like new after 70,000 miles and almost 10 years. Can't get more reliable than that surely. It always starts first or second time - even after sitting weeks in the cold. The best bit: it's still on the original battery! It's cheap to run, cheap to insure, cheap to maintain. I would go for the Focus, no doubt about it.
2000 focus 1.6 zetec vs 1998 BMW 323i se - Pugugly
BMW can be cost effective and that engine is a peach - trouble is once you're hooked...... oh and don't skimp on tyres.
2000 focus 1.6 zetec vs 1998 BMW 323i se - gordonbennet
If you really want to try a Beemer this is a good a time as any and an ideal car to test the water on.

Agree with Pug, you want the best tyres you can afford on this especially if it's the first RWD.

If you like it and that's a good possibility you might not want FWD again, but each to their own.

Spare parts a plenty and cheap from the usual sources GSF and Euro to mention just 2, and specialist indies dotted around if anything should go wrong that needs an expert.
2000 focus 1.6 zetec vs 1998 BMW 323i se - yorkiebar
The Bm would not be my choice of car, but compared to a Focus.................................

2000 focus 1.6 zetec vs 1998 BMW 323i se - Pugugly
People say that Focus is the epitome of good handling, but remember that the vast majority of them have never driven a RWD car - if the Beemer is unmolested it will be a fine friend with proper engineering values in it's genes - suppose I should stop now before I get a kicking.....but that engine is probably one of the best petrol unit you can get in a car of it's class..

Edit;

I should add I have driven various Focus hire cars over the years both petrol and diesel - I could never get to like the steering feel at the straight ahead - a little dead in my opinion.

Edited by Pugugly on 29/12/2009 at 22:11

2000 focus 1.6 zetec vs 1998 BMW 323i se - Alby Back
Would agree with you there PU. I almost dare not drive a 3 or a 5 for fear of reminding myself how good they are. A bit like when you go to someone else's exquisite house and it makes you want to set fire to your own when you get home. BMWs are like eating chocolate cake with fresh cream and cherries as opposed to the Mr Kiplings apple pie with custard available from the rest.
2000 focus 1.6 zetec vs 1998 BMW 323i se - Pugugly
...and the intoxicating, fruity engine note.
2000 focus 1.6 zetec vs 1998 BMW 323i se - Focus_Driver
Thanks, I will give the BMW a try based on the recommendations here. Is £1400 alright for a 323i 100k miles?
2000 focus 1.6 zetec vs 1998 BMW 323i se - Pugugly
Condition and service history is key - if these motors have been regularly serviced they go forever, have a look at HJ's CbyC - is it an E46 or E38 ?
2000 focus 1.6 zetec vs 1998 BMW 323i se - Alby Back
Cheaper than a week's skiing at a half reasonable resort, not quite as much fun but hopefully will last quite a bit longer !
2000 focus 1.6 zetec vs 1998 BMW 323i se - Focus_Driver
Its an 1998 E36 170bhp 2.5L (is there an e38?). Parkers says its 7.7 sec 0-60 but is that a bit optimistic?
2000 focus 1.6 zetec vs 1998 BMW 323i se - Pugugly
Might be !

E38 was the seven series.
2000 focus 1.6 zetec vs 1998 BMW 323i se - gordonbennet
Regardless of whatever figures Parkers give, if it's running well you will find the acceleration quite addictive, imo they are just getting going when other cars are running out of steam.
2000 focus 1.6 zetec vs 1998 BMW 323i se - bell boy
wouldnt fancy a 100,000 mile 1600 focus lots of these expire and engines are rocking poo hard to find
the bmw needs a full new mot or you will spend a fortune on suspension bits and tyres before it will drive right (check the advisories too before you hand the money over in case it just scraped through and the exhaust is patched up
personally i would find a nice 2.0 litre focus in a nice colour and from a nice source
2000 focus 1.6 zetec vs 1998 BMW 323i se - Focus_Driver
This was my full reply, don't know what happened:

Its an 1998 E36 170bhp 2.5L (is there an e38?). Parkers says its 7.7 sec 0-60 but is that a bit optimistic? Yes they look very solid, I'm sure they are well built cars. Unlike my current mk1 megane!

I took it for a free brake check. When they took off one of the rear wheels the bearings fell apart, brake pads where crumbling, engine mount was loose, alternator belt was squealing due to oil leaking on to it. Garage said I had to get it fixed as they would not allow me to drive it off there their premises because of potential liability. They wanted £80 to put in a new wheel bearing which was ridulous. I eventually paid £60 which they accepted. I was told not to buy French or Italian cars as although they look good, are not well built!

Edited by Focus1.8TDCi on 29/12/2009 at 22:55

2000 focus 1.6 zetec vs 1998 BMW 323i se - corax
My 323i SE touring has done 150,000 miles and shows no signs of wear yet, if you're looking at the beemer make sure it has a decent history with no overheating problems or rough running. A good one will be a lovely thing to drive but a neglected one could become a moneypit. I keep wondering what I would replace mine with, but I would miss various things if I bought another car. Sublime engine, handling, pure steering, independent temperature air to feet and face e.t.c e.t.c I'm hooked! Have seen one touring with 238,000 miles for sale, though not sure what condition it was in.
2000 focus 1.6 zetec vs 1998 BMW 323i se - Pugugly
We have no connection with BMW ! What colour is it ?
2000 focus 1.6 zetec vs 1998 BMW 323i se - Focus_Driver
Its dark metallic blue, my favourite colour for that car. Normally I prefer black
2000 focus 1.6 zetec vs 1998 BMW 323i se - LikedDrivingOnce
corax
I keep wondering what I would replace mine with .....

Naturally another BMW must be on your shortlist - but also consider a Mercedes C-class Estate. By all accounts the handling is very much improved (only a little behind a BMW), and it also can boast that it has greater carrying capacity, much superior comfy ride, more kit and a superior image (Are there any Mercedes driver jokes?).
Of course the BMW has a better manual gearbox, better engine, and I feel that the build quality is also better.
I wouldn't have either of them myself, but maybe that makes me more independent in pointing out the strengths of each.
2000 focus 1.6 zetec vs 1998 BMW 323i se - corax
Of course the BMW has a better manual gearbox, better engine, and I feel the build >> quality is also better...


You've just answered your own question. But actually I was one of those people who looked down on BMW's because of their percieved image. In the 80's they were driven by red braced hooligans with a bad attitude, and nowadays the X5 drivers always seem to be tailgating people which I find annoying. But I chose mine based on parts availability, durability and reliability, and when you look at BMW's in that light, you find it makes sense to buy one. Also, I don't think many people who drive older BMW's like me are particularly concerned with their image, they are just driving them because they keep going! If mine got written off, I would think about a 98-03 Honda Accord as they are cars that look bland on the outside, but actually have a great engine and chassis. Also I like the Volvo v70 estates because of their amazing durability, although I have a nagging doubt that they would be expensive to run. I also like mondeos, although I like something a bit different, if only to find it in the car park! Every other car parked along my road is a ford focus.
2000 focus 1.6 zetec vs 1998 BMW 323i se - Focus_Driver
I find the focus has that rigid feel when driving on the straight which is unique to that car. But isn't that a good thing and one of its virtues? I haven't driven many types of cars but to me it feels superior to meganes, astras etc.

Edited by Focus1.8TDCi on 29/12/2009 at 23:21

2000 focus 1.6 zetec vs 1998 BMW 323i se - Pugugly
I didn't like it - but that's me :-) I like a live wheel !
2000 focus 1.6 zetec vs 1998 BMW 323i se - M.M
No doubt about it if just comparing cars... the BMW is way better... the Mk.1 Focus is pretty dated now. But it's all down to your pocket. The Focus is a pretty safe bet if running well at time of purchase... but the BMW could cost the purchase price again in repairs over a year.

When we were young it never stopped us though... rarely an Escort on the drive... ususally some V8, V6, Audi, Alfa, BMW, big Citroen etc. Cost a fortune in running costs to be honest but great fun.
2000 focus 1.6 zetec vs 1998 BMW 323i se - yorkiebar
With the cars mentioned its a choice betwen 2 totally different types of car!

Neither would be my choice, but 1 is intersting and 1 is boring.

If you want something a little different there are other choices.

But between the 2 listed, cost of running = focus. fun of running = bmw
2000 focus 1.6 zetec vs 1998 BMW 323i se - Pugugly
There's no reason on earth why the Beemer should cost much more to run if you pick your repair place well.
2000 focus 1.6 zetec vs 1998 BMW 323i se - corax
They are actually cheaper to repair than a lot of more modern cars due to their traditional rear wheel drive set-up. As has been said before, you must choose a car that has been looked after properly and not patched up to save money. If it doesn't feel any less than great to drive, walk away. Consumables aren't too bad to replace, but that engine must be right, otherwise you could be looking at corroded waterways, overheating, vanos valve timing problems e.t.c. The oil needs to have been changed regularly and the coolant changed at least every 2 years. It only needs to overheat badly once, and you could be looking at a new cylinder head, the alloy is very soft. Well maintained, and they are no problem.
2000 focus 1.6 zetec vs 1998 BMW 323i se - Pugugly
Even servicing them through the dealers isn't horrendous - BMW used to have a 5 year plus scheme.
2000 focus 1.6 zetec vs 1998 BMW 323i se - yorkiebar
You cant seriously convince people a bmw of that age and type is as cheap to run as a focus !

Can you ?

Eve a routine service bill is a big difference, let alone repairs as and when needed!

Not saying its not the car I would choose out of the 2 but cost is an important factor to consider (I think) in this case!
2000 focus 1.6 zetec vs 1998 BMW 323i se - corax
The OP said that what he was more interested in was which one was better to drive. No contest! Although I'm sure a ford focus will be cheaper to run :-)

But the E36 costs are reasonable, given its performance.
2000 focus 1.6 zetec vs 1998 BMW 323i se - Pugugly
They aren't as expensive as you might think. Certainly my most recent BMW wasn't that more expensive to service than an equivalent Vauxhall/Ford/Honda
2000 focus 1.6 zetec vs 1998 BMW 323i se - cheddar
The BMW is an E36 that first saw the light of day in 1990, if it were an E46 then it might be a different story though assuming condition wise etc the cars compare then the much more contemporary Focus would be the one to go for, very sweet engine if no ball of fire and great fun on the twisties.
2000 focus 1.6 zetec vs 1998 BMW 323i se - Focus_Driver
Yes, but surely it was improved by 1998 which is the model year I'm looking at. I did try a 1996 316 compact once and it felt like a tank but solid. Focus was miles better. But the bmw compact was based on the previous chasis (e30) though called an e36. And of course a 1.6 (1.8) in a BMW doesn't help.

As for servicing, OK parts are more expensive but not by loads. I also do servicing myself so a beemer would use say 0.5 litre extra oil and filter is an extra £1 - nothing in it.

Are they easy to drive (light steering etc) or do they require hard work and input from the driver? I don't want it to be like an imprezza with great performance and handling etc only for it to have a harsh ride and heavy steering.

Edited by Focus1.8TDCi on 30/12/2009 at 19:56

2000 focus 1.6 zetec vs 1998 BMW 323i se - Focus_Driver
How does rear wheel drive differ to front drive apart from handling, such as ride comfort, reliability etc? To me it seems more logical for the rear wheels to power the car like it is on a bike.
2000 focus 1.6 zetec vs 1998 BMW 323i se - corax
I don't want it to be like an Impreza
only for it to have a harsh ride and heavy steering.


They do have heavier steering than front wheel drive cars, but the advantage is that you feel what is going on through the front wheels. Also the ride is on the firm side, but it depends on the condition of the one you're looking at. If the shocks and bushes are knackered its going to feel a bit woolly.

I had my shocks replaced with standard Bilstein B4's which many people reckon are as firm as the standard M Tech shocks on the sport. Also I have powerflex polyurethane bushes on the rear trailing arms and wishbone bushes. This increases harshness very slightly at the back, but only when you are driving over some shocking pieces of british tarmac. The advantage is that it steers very precisely, feels really planted and is rock steady on the motorway, even in a crosswind. They also last much longer. I certainly wouldn't go back to rubber bushes.

I've had my car almost 5 years so I've had the time to replace the bits that wear out with uprated items in an economical fashion. In the end its down to personal choice, you'll just have to test drive both cars and find out for yourself. If you choose the beemer and only keep it for a year, you're not going to be bothered about the above. But it will cost more than a focus, assuming they are both without problems.
0.5 litre extra oil


Not sure about that. the straight six takes close to 7 litres!
2000 focus 1.6 zetec vs 1998 BMW 323i se - Blue {P}
I've owned both and can assure you that the E36 will not handle as well as the Focus which is simply a much more chuckable car.

Basically the situation is this:-

Focus:-
More modern
Safer in an accident
Cheaper to run
Has much sharper handling than the E36
Will probably have fewer faults

BMW:-
The engine
Looks nicer IMO (if it's i good nick)
The engine
Possibly more comfortable
The engine

Just so that you can judge what I'm basing my decision on, I have owned:-
E36 316i (about 55K on the clock)
E46 323i (over 100K on the clock)
Focus MK1 TDCi (about 35K on the clock)
and have spent all day driving a Focus MK1 1.6 petrol. (less than 20K on the clock)

Overall, it's a tough call and will largely depend on the type of driving that you do, if it's all city stuff then you will find the Focus a better companion, if you spend anytime at all on motorways then the delightful BMW will start to edge ahead.

On the condition front, my E46 had done just over 100K when I bought it so was a little vague, I think if I had replaced the suspension bushes then it would have improved quite dramatically. Don't expect miracles from any 100K E36, unless it's just had a full suspension overhaul it is not going to be very sharp!

If you were comparing a Focus 2.0 to the BMW then it would be a slightly tougher call but on balance, I think the rule of there being no replacement for displacement will take effect here!
2000 focus 1.6 zetec vs 1998 BMW 323i se - Focus_Driver
Interesting. I've owned a mk1 tdci and driven a 1.6 petrol focus so I know how good they are - around town and on the motorway. But the bmw engine should be far superior (6 cyl, 24v)? I will try the BMW and let everyone know what I think (without bias!)
2000 focus 1.6 zetec vs 1998 BMW 323i se - CraigP
I will try the BMW

>>

Unless it's a rotter you've picked up, probably safe to say: welcome to the BMW enthusiasts club :-)

 

Ask Honest John

Value my car