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BMW 3-Series (E90 E92) Forum > BMW E90/E92/E93 3-series General Forums > General E90 Sedan / E91 Wagon / E92 Coupe / E93 Cabrio > E46 vs. E90: what’s better / worse than before?



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      02-16-2006, 01:09 PM   #1
imageWIS
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Smile E46 vs. E90: what’s better / worse than before?

So, what do you think is better or worse when comparing the old 3 to the new 3?

Personally, I think the interior design, with the curving cash geared towards the driver was perfect on the E46, as well the feel and manufacture of the interior materials felt better.

Jon.
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      02-16-2006, 02:56 PM   #2
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In my opinion, the E90 is better in every way, except for storage space for the interior.
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      02-16-2006, 03:02 PM   #3
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I heard that the E46 was actually the E90 and the E90 was actually designed for the E46.
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      02-16-2006, 03:03 PM   #4
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I like both!
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      02-16-2006, 03:10 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by imageWIS
So, what do you think is better or worse when comparing the old 3 to the new 3?

Personally, I think the interior design, with the curving cash geared towards the driver was perfect on the E46, as well the feel and manufacture of the interior materials felt better.

Jon.
I agree, the curving dash geared towards the driver on the E46 is much nicer than the flat dash on the E90.
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      02-16-2006, 03:13 PM   #6
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I think everything about the e90 is better except for...
1) the e46 curved dash
2) the e90 styling; it is a little bland, IMO
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      02-16-2006, 03:13 PM   #7
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Drove my dad's E46 330i the other day and I definately think that the E90 is better in every way. Its quieter, has a nicer ride quality, better head room, more comfortable seats, better steering, more cornering grip, and I think the interior and exterior look better than E46... much more modern-art looking.
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      02-16-2006, 03:16 PM   #8
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1. Ride & handling are better - longer wheelbase and width.
2. Back seat has substantially more room.
3. Went from an E46 325i to an E90 330i. Power is MUCH better!!!!
4. Transmission is better - automatics in both. I Like the 6 spd in E90.
5. Rims are better looking - 162s on the E90.
6. I like the E90 starter button--many do not.
7. I've finally come to like the E90 body style better than the E46.
Took 3 months for it to grow on me.
8. Bluetooth is cool.

All that aside, there was a totally subjective visceral feeling of comfort and rightness when I drove the E46 that is somehow lessened in the E90. I can't explain what I mean much better than that, and its wierd because I like the E90 better. The E46 just gave me this feeling...
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      02-16-2006, 03:22 PM   #9
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Honestly, based on price, the interior of the E90 seemed a bit lacking than what I had come to expect from BMW’s. The tactile feel was not as good as I had thought it was going to be and the design was completely unlike what I had experienced from previous BMW models.

The driving however is top notch and I would gladly take the amazing steering wheel feel any day against the dead and sterile feel that one gets in Audi’s. And yes, I think it is probably even better than my friend’s E46.

Jon.
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      02-16-2006, 03:43 PM   #10
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It's difficult to compare the first year E90 to the entire range of E46 models. The E46 changed considerably over its production period. Major changes include not limited to:

-Engines/power (from MY2001)
-Throttle butterflies/actuation (DBW introduced from MY2001)
-Exterior front fascia/fenders/hood (from MY2002 for sedans, 2004 for coupes; the so-called "facelift")
-Steering revisions (99-00 had steering feel and heft similar to the E36, most of the 01 cars had heavily boosted Lexus steering, 02-06 had a further revision which places heft somewhere between the 99-00 and 01 cars)
-Updates in DSC/traction control (standard DSC from MY2000 on, 99 had ASC+T)
-Various available packages and standard equipment (increasing levels of standard equipment with each year of production, ZHP package available starting for MY2003 on sedans, and I believe MY2004 for coupes)
-Transmissions (330 had six speed starting in 2003 with ZHP cars, 2004-on for all 330...for automatics, 99 cars used a GM 5 speed, 00-on had the shiftable steptronic)

Some people, myself included, find that the first two years of E46 production were the best years and superior to all subsequent models save perhaps the ZHP equipped 330i. Mainly because the steering and throttle feel/response in these cars is the best of all the E46s, in addition to the fact that the 99-00 cars also have lighter curb weights and better coefficients of drag than the later years.

In simple terms, the earliest cars (99-00) are most similar to the E36 in appearance, drive, and performance. They have mechanical throttle actuation, more conservative styling, and the older M52TU engines. The 02-05 with DBW, the M54, and the facelifted exterior are closer to the E90 in appearance (facelift), drive (DBW), and performance (engines/suspension - ZHP etc).
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      02-16-2006, 03:50 PM   #11
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All of the above said, here's what I think:

What the E46 (taken as a whole production line and discounting differences between model years) does better:
-Better styling inside and out
-Far better overall interior ergonomics (dash/console controls angled toward driver, easier to reach, more buttons on steering wheel, window switches near shifter)
-Has full sized spare instead of crappy RFTs
-Slightly better interior materials (no cheap flimsy plastic door handles, for example - I don't find the difference nearly as dramatic as some E46 diehards, however, and if BMW sacrificed interior materials to build better subframe mounts, that's fine with me)

What the E90 does better:
-Engines, power, overall performance; fuel economy, acceleration
-Suspension response and performance; reduced body lean and understeer
-Sport seats
-Standard features, equipment, amenities; auxiliary audio inputs, better climate control system etc

In all other respects I consider them more or less equal. Bottom line, the E90 is a continuation of what the E46 was after the E36: refinement. Better performance, more luxury creature comforts...but with each successive step, we also lose more and more of what has made the 3 series so much fun. I honestly think the E90 is much closer to an older 5 series - maybe the E39 - than an old E30 or E36.

I don't know if I like the E90 enough to buy it. Admittedly, I am getting tired of my older E46, but I'm more tired of the performance (or lack thereof) than anything else. I don't know if I want to give up the great steering feel, stiff throttle and awesome aftermarket clutch that I have in the E46 just for better power and handling (which I only use a couple times per month). The E90 is that much better on paper, but it doesn't generate the same emotional response that the E46 did.
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      02-16-2006, 03:55 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wheeler
1. Ride & handling are better - longer wheelbase and width.
2. Back seat has substantially more room.
3. Went from an E46 325i to an E90 330i. Power is MUCH better!!!!
4. Transmission is better - automatics in both. I Like the 6 spd in E90.
5. Rims are better looking - 162s on the E90.
6. I like the E90 starter button--many do not.
7. I've finally come to like the E90 body style better than the E46.
Took 3 months for it to grow on me.
8. Bluetooth is cool.

All that aside, there was a totally subjective visceral feeling of comfort and rightness when I drove the E46 that is somehow lessened in the E90. I can't explain what I mean much better than that, and its wierd because I like the E90 better. The E46 just gave me this feeling...
I agree with all of your statements. One thing though, I realiy like the dash style, wood and the leather type (dakota) in the E90. The interior is more modern and works better than the interior does on the e60 5er. also the instruments and controls do still tilt very slitely toward the driver
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      02-16-2006, 04:45 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by akhbhaat
I don't know if I like the E90 enough to buy it. Admittedly, I am getting tired of my older E46, but I'm more tired of the performance (or lack thereof) than anything else. I don't know if I want to give up the great steering feel, stiff throttle and awesome aftermarket clutch that I have in the E46 just for better power and handling (which I only use a couple times per month). The E90 is that much better on paper, but it doesn't generate the same emotional response that the E46 did.

Well, Bangle does not want an emotional response to his designs. He wants everything to be based on architectural (building) design, and for the cars to be like rolling art.

I remember every time I would see a new E46 on road when the car first came out I would stare at it. I would glance over its design and see what a great design that BMW produced. I don’t get the same feeling with the E90. Luckily, the E90 does not have Bangle-Butt; but its still lacking in visual soul…something it shares with the new 5 & 7.

I have a massive book that shows the history of BMW in full visual detail and all of the cars in the book have a certain soul to them. They were not designed just as technical exercises that happen to look good on a 2D piece of paper. They were designed by taking a hunk of sculpting clay and carving it into new car shapes, altering the shape of the clay again and again until they came up with the best possible design; one that not only moved their Teutonic ideals, but also the German trait of driving for the sake of driving, a trait that only comes from love.

Jon.
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      02-16-2006, 05:46 PM   #14
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I park my E90 330i next to my sister's 2005 330Ci ZHP every day at work. She got her car a few months before I got mine (I went with the sedan because I have two kids) and the dash layout was originally one of the things I prefered on the E46. After driving my car for a few months, I can say that I prefer the new dash layout to the old one. Experience may not change your mind as it did mine, but there's something to be said for familiarity, which only comes with time.

Her car also has the M steering wheel, which is more comfy to grip than my stock sport steering wheel (I just ordered the M version off eBay).

The exhaust sound on her car is the only remaining thing I can think of that I prefer over my my car.

As for pro-E90 stuff, my car has more interior room, more power, Comfort Access (not standard, but highly recommended), comparable (if not superior) handling, and the storage space under the armrest is only sort of small instead of rediculously small
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      02-16-2006, 07:05 PM   #15
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E90, hands down. My 325 is head and shoulders better than my old e46 323 in performance and driveability. However, the e46's reliability was second to none. The car started first time, every time for 6 1/2 years of ownership and the most serious problem was the indicator locked onto turning left signal. The assembly had to be changed.

The only thing I miss in the e90 is the sunglasses compartment at the bottom of the dash. I know I can change the current ashtray to a storage unit but I put my sunglasses in the centre console and my home garage remote just fits into the ashtray space.

Reliability. I have had my E90 since July '05. No problems at all but it is still early days as I intend on keeping the car for its model life. I trust that the reliability will be even better in the e90.

Running costs: E90 might be a little cheaper but not much. Again too early to tell.

Excitement factor: E90 is a BIG, BIG winner there. Still a thrill to get in the car and drive it. The list goes on.
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      02-16-2006, 07:37 PM   #16
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      02-16-2006, 08:32 PM   #17
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E46 pros:

-if you drive a stick, having the window controls next to the shifter is most convenient. On the E90, I have to change hands on the steering wheel in order to activate the window switches on the door. I'm fortunate I don't have to do this often.

-the intake growl of the 330i is deliciously ripping! On the E90, the soundtrack is there but more distant and muted, a victim of further refinement of the 3 series.

-the angled dash, as others have mentioned. However, on the E90, the displays and controls are subtly angled even though they may not look like it.


E90 pros:

Everything else!
Amazing N52 engine.
Aggresive stance and profile, especially with SP.
More power, better fuel economy.
Improved and less intrusive DSC+ (with Hill Assist, Brake Standby).
Amazing ride and handling (comparing SP to SP), despite riding on 18" RFT's.
Additional year of free maintenance for us Canucks.
More rear legroom, similar to previous 5 (E39).

I'm sure I left out a few...

Oh yeah, E90's Logic 7 is much much much better than E46's HK Premium sound, probably partly due to better speaker locations in the door/dash (giving better soundstage) and better sub location in the cabin under the front seats (giving better bass response).
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      02-16-2006, 09:04 PM   #18
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Been a 3 series fans since the e36. watched it mature and grow physically larger with each generation. E90 cars generally have a higher spec, feels more upmarket even in basic 320i form.I like 2 new features in the e90.
For a guy living in the tropical zone, the rear aircon vents are a boon. Also like the ellipsoidal stock door mirrors, a break from standard boring rectangular ones.
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      02-16-2006, 09:19 PM   #19
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one negative feature of the e90 which i have my doubts are the introduction of runflats and the lack of a spare wheel and jack. Cannot help feeling that this is a new bmw gimmick, just like the start stop button. perhaps, i am too conservative but I feel that they 'shouldn't fix something that ain't broken'.
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      02-16-2006, 09:35 PM   #20
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I've noticed alot of new cars nowadays have dipped down door arm rest like the e90 (eg Nissans). This is a negative in my eyes cos it's just isnt classy.

The e46 has it all except a "new" design look, it looks better built and everything sorta compliment the other extremely well (interiorly and exteriorily). the only think is the sedan is abit small and very dated.

The e90 shines in the rear and sides department, the front is abit bland. I hate the fact that it came out with no side moulds (side stripes on door for protection). It has better clusters and the dials are on par.

You can tell that BMW tried to reduce cost by doing some shortcuts in the design and what have you. But it's something minor given the 6 speed auto and run flat as standard i suppose...

I would choose the e90 sedan over the e46, but rather the e46 coupe over all.
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      02-17-2006, 12:45 AM   #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by aem
The e90 shines in the rear and sides department, the front is abit bland. I hate the fact that it came out with no side moulds (side stripes on door for protection).
Interesting; most would claim the opposite on both accounts.
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      02-17-2006, 05:32 AM   #22
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E90 for me.

BMW in the UK are doing some good discounts at the moment for the E46 coupes, as production will cease at the end of the year (so I am advised). But there is no contest as the newer shape takes hold. The E46 is a cracking shape, but I believe has started to date when put next to the newer model.

I just think that the E90 looks and feels so much more modern than the E46. It is a step forward. However, I must say that I am a big fan of the Bangle styling - bear with me please (!) - and think that they are visionary and will still look modern in years to come. The E36 (obviously pre-Bangle)was a shock on launch, but for a shape now 16 years old, it looks far more modern and can hold it's own against many newer shapes, not least those of the same era.

At the end of the day, it is subjective, and let's not forget that they are all great cars, even if styling is not always to all tastes.
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