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BMW 3-series E46 (1998 - 2005)

5

330CD

reviewed by Duncan Gafney on 18 August 2020
5
Overall rating
5
How it drives
5
Fuel economy
3
Running costs
3
Cost of maintenance and repairs
5
Experience at the garage or specialist
4
How practical it is
4
How you rate the manufacturer
5
Overall reliability

Gave me back my love of driving

Having decided to give back my wifes motability car (Seat Leon FR diesel) and after 6 years of motability, I spent circa 6 months, driving a bunch of cars trying to work out what I wanted and had kind of decided that an E46 BMW would be the last potential option to try driving. Ideally I wanted a 330d touring, but I happened to see a 67k mile mint, FSH 330CD for sale at what seemed a fairly eye watering price of £5k.

So I went to see the car, saw that all the usual issues like the swirl flaps and DPF had been sorted out already, that it had just had new front brakes including calipers and various other money spent on it and thought OK, maybe this is an option, the boots big enough for us, so lets try it.

Then i drove it and thought, wowsers, I'd forgotten what it's like to have a car that talks this much to you even at low speed, so after some negotiation I purchased the car for less than asked a fairly happy man.

Now I should note that I am a petrolhead, I love cars in general, but due to mileage and also my own driving style, I've been running diesel cars since 2002 now. From August 2019 to March 20 I rediscovered my love of driving, simply because of the way the car talks to you, not just when you go fast but even at 30mph, their is a constant chat from it through the steering wheel and the seat of your pants.

Come Covid and whilst the car wasn't being used much I decided to spend some money making her as good as she can be, so now she runs with new Eibach dual rate springs, new Bilstein stock replacements shocks and a simple plug in engine management module, new centre wheel caps, new suspension bushes and a lot of time and effort spent on getting her looking as good as possible.

She's the only car I've ever owned where I get thumbs up's and waves from people, I love driving her. 40mpg, devastatiung mid range punch for overtaking, effortless cruising on motorways, comfortable, rock solid handling, decent ride and more smiles per mile than any car I've owned in the last 20 years. She feels so analogue, none of this electric power steering, lack of wheel, wooden ride or modern ugliness.

Plus, in mint condition, with full history as long as I don't put silly miles on her, depreciation is non existent.

Downsides, the only real one is maintenance is relatively expensive, but I use a local BMW specialist and the prices are not at all bad, yes parts of fairly pricey, but they aren't ruinous, just don't expect maintenance on a 15 year old BMW to be less than £500pa, but if your not paying vast sums to buy it who cares..

What would I change about her? Will maybe go for an upgrade to the sound system to get better sound quality, but other than that and maybe a proper remap to release a few more ponies without making her extreme, nothing.

Next job, proper refurb of her alloys, they are far from bad, but I want them pristine, maybe a switch to some Michelin PS4's when I change the tyres, then just drive, maintain and love.

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