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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 > looking at an E90.. but which one?



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      12-18-2012, 06:57 PM   #1
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looking at an E90.. but which one?

So.. your first question if you've looked to the left is possibly, Why?

Well my friends, there's one thing I've learned in the last 5 years and that is; speed is over-ratted.

Essentially, the CTS-V is 600lbs too heavy, and has about 150 more ponies than I want. Driving a boat doing jail-speeds for .75 seconds is simply not my version of fun, and this is compounded by the fact that the one Motorsport I enjoy-autocross, is simply the worst place to have fun in a 2 ton mid-sized super sedan. To be clear, I would think an E60 M5 would have the same faults I'm speaking about, and it's not necessary related to the Cadillac specifically. it's just a nature of being that heavy and having that much grunt.

I'm considering downsizing either way, and I've always loved me an E90.

The problem, and here's the ZING to this otherwise boring topic- is that I'm looking for a car that I can connect with, that I want to keep around for 10,15 or even 20 years. Not because I need a car to last that long, but because I *want* a car that can last that long, that simply feels *that* special.

Requirements beyond this are mostly achieved by any variant of the E90 which is already a well rounded sedan, but, I need help deciding if I really want to go right for an M3, or possibly want to scale back to a 328i or 330i.

I *do* want something that I can modify (I realize a 335i might come up in your mind, but being D/I and the HPFP issues are a game-stopper for me, i'd rather not scrape carbon build up off valves or replace $1000 fuel pumps seasonally) but I also want something that I can daily drive, something that in a few years time won't ruin me financially either with out of control mod spending on parts that cost much more than they should, or even being forced to pay someone to work on the car because I simply lack the DIY skills (Like the M-DCT or VANOS systems)

And that's the balance I need help with.

I suppose what I'm asking is, are the 328/330i E90's 9/10ths(speaking only in communicative steering/braking/chassis/ and related mod-ability, ect) an M3 or is the M3 really just dialing it to 11? Is it really a whole different car compared to it's lesser siblings or is it just a incremental step in the food chain?

Also, just to be certain I'm not simply reading what I want to- is the 3 series even really this special to drive(irony in asking this question in a BMW forum aside)? I would prefer answers from owners who've had other car's than their E90 on this particular topic(my previous ownership; B5 S4, B5 A4, 09 G8 GT). I will admit, I have not yet had the opportunity to drive one, but I can't help but assuming, it's a 3 series, it's a compact sedan. The E90 M3 and the phrase 'best overall car in the world' has been uttered by reviewers before. If I thought my B5 S4 was banging, this *HAS* to be 1000% better, right?

I ask these questions and not a billion specific ones because truthfully, I will be daily driving my Car more often than I track it, and I won't be doing any sort of crazy HPDE or full-open course events for a long time , or on any frequent basis, so the speed of the car will only be relevant on an interstate, and as I found out, that's neither very rewarding nor is it helpful to my insurance premiums. So, as long as it's a special and fun to drive, I think I'd be just fine in a 5-6s to 60 car just as much as an M3. I'll miss the V8 growl a bit.. but if I'm honest, I'm not sure I like how the S65 sounds too much anyway.

So there it is.. The easy/cheap to run and maintain 328i/330i or the go-for-it-all and possibly regret it in 5 years or the first time I look @ exhausts M3?

also; random indirect question;
how's helmet room for a 6'2" man? I have a tall torso I'd say, and the only car I don't have clearance issues in in my sunroof-less V(I had another CTS-V with a roof) and the G8(which was the size of a 7 series) .. otherwise I often have to 'tilt' to squeeze in.

Last edited by lolwut; 12-18-2012 at 07:10 PM.
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      12-18-2012, 07:09 PM   #2
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Thats kind of a wide price range. If you can swing it, I'd go for the e9x m3. Why not? You'll get one of the better handling cars in the price range/class. The 328/330's are also excellent cars, and you'll save a bit on maintenance. My 328 is at 80k and I've only needed basic maintenance, which the DIY's on here have helped with that.

But then if you're looking at the 328-330 price range, why not look at the e46 m3? Still regarded as one of the best m3's and you usually find a decent one for 25k.
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      12-18-2012, 07:12 PM   #3
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Quote:
Thats kind of a wide price range. If you can swing it, I'd go for the e9x m3. Why not?
The why would be because , basically, if I want an M3 I'd have to figure out a way to curb my mod-finger. I could save 10-20K on a 28 or 30i, which are probably better DD's, and still play around with them- that's what I truly enjoyed with the S4, putting parts on and tinkering with it, which I could do much more freely with the 28/30i. I'd almost be keeping the M3 stock. It's already nearly as fast as the V. I'm not sure I'd be able to do that. It's difficult with the Cadillac as it is, and the M3's aftermarket makes the Caddy's look like POS civic stuff in shear pricing.

Essentially, if I can't row a few gears once in a while for fear of 130+Mph on the speedo, or I can't have my hands on her because, that cat-back costs $4K I may not be in a position to really enjoy the car. The M3 would have to be very special to drive in order to make the jump, and that's the question. Is it *really* that special, or are the other car's pretty nice in their own rights?



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But then if you're looking at the 328-330 price range, why not look at the e46 m3? Still regarded as one of the best m3's and you usually find a decent one for 25k.
I had considered that, briefly. Ultimately, I want a sedan. Call it my quirky nature.

Last edited by lolwut; 12-18-2012 at 07:19 PM.
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      12-18-2012, 07:19 PM   #4
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If by play around with them, you mean mod them, you'll be wasting your money. Not saying these aren't great cars, but there's a terrible money/performance ratio. If you prefer upgraded tech and want an enjoyable DD, a 330 will suffice. If you want a car that is more than capable of being a DD (besides the gas mileage), an AutoX car, and everything else in between, the e90 M3 is the way to go. (Especially if I read your last statement correctly.)
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      12-18-2012, 07:22 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by atown88 View Post
If by play around with them, you mean mod them, you'll be wasting your money. Not saying these aren't great cars, but there's a terrible money/performance ratio. If you'd like to buy a car for 25k that you'll DD and still enjoy AutoX, i'd go with the e46 M3. If you prefer upgraded tech and want an enjoyable DD, a 330 will suffice. If you want a car that is more than capable of being a DD (besides the gas mileage), an AutoX car, and everything else in between, the e9x M3 is the way to go. (Especially if I read your last statement correctly.)
hmm.. so you really think the E46 would be that much preferable huh?

I will think on it some more. It's not that I dislike the body-style, or that I actually *need* 4 doors. I simply have always been an under-cover sedan guy I suppose. Maybe it's time for that to change.
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      12-18-2012, 07:35 PM   #6
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The e9x aren't exactly light cars either. I know it might not be what you're looking for but e36's are much more fun to drive especially at autocross.
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      12-18-2012, 07:42 PM   #7
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My input for you is if your willing to go coupe the 335is is an amazing machine. I just bought one with the theory that most of the mechanical problems should be ironed out by now. The m3 is an amazing machine but I would never track it, seemed like overkill for me.
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      12-18-2012, 07:47 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tigermack View Post
The e9x aren't exactly light cars either. I know it might not be what you're looking for but e36's are much more fun to drive especially at autocross.
True, but my S4 was pretty close to an E90, so I kinda know what to expect.
I knew the E36's were also in sedan form, I wasn't 100% sold on the more squared off looks, and my concern that being significantly older was that most of the ones out there are either automatic, or are in very tattered shape, likely necessitating min-restorations. Small issues bother me a bit, and I'd probably have to live with quite a few issues in an E36.

I had presumed that the added cost of an E90 was more worth it in the end to slumping into a tired E36. I wasn't certain on what kind of aftermarket was available either.

Have you driven both?


Quote:
My input for you is if your willing to go coupe the 335is is an amazing machine. I just bought one with the theory that most of the mechanical problems should be ironed out by now. The m3 is an amazing machine but I would never track it, seemed like overkill for me.
see.. I'd rather like to avoid Direct injection right now. I just don't think the technology has long-term longevity right now. Carbon buildup is an issue in every D/I engine, and the N54 has it's own problems with the fuel pumps. I realize that there may be some that have had reliable cars, but if I've heard of the problems that have plagued the engine and I don't even have the car.. it's a problem.
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      12-18-2012, 07:51 PM   #9
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calling BS on this whole conversation.
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      12-18-2012, 07:56 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lolwut View Post
True, but my S4 was pretty close to an E90, so I kinda know what to expect.
I knew the E36's were also in sedan form, I wasn't 100% sold on the more squared off looks, and my concern that being significantly older was that most of the ones out there are either automatic, or are in very tattered shape, likely necessitating min-restorations. Small issues bother me a bit, and I'd probably have to live with quite a few issues in an E36.

I had presumed that the added cost of an E90 was more worth it in the end to slumping into a tired E36. I wasn't certain on what kind of aftermarket was available either.

Have you driven both?
I have an e36 for autocross only, 330i for DD. It's a 325i but still a blast to drive.
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      12-18-2012, 09:17 PM   #11
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Get an e90 330xi its a great balance of power, luxury, handling all packed into one great car. Gets about 21-22 mpg average, its a blast to drive and its ready for all seasons.
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      12-18-2012, 10:43 PM   #12
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Why get an AWD BMW? Just curious.
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      12-18-2012, 11:05 PM   #13
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Originally Posted by tigermack View Post
Why get an AWD BMW? Just curious.
An almost identical feel on the road as its RWD counterparts but with the capability of getting out of your driveway when it snows 12".
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      12-19-2012, 12:25 AM   #14
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[quote=lolwut;13177897}


see.. I'd rather like to avoid Direct injection right now. I just don't think the technology has long-term longevity right now. Carbon buildup is an issue in every D/I engine, and the N54 has it's own problems with the fuel pumps. I realize that there may be some that have had reliable cars, but if I've heard of the problems that have plagued the engine and I don't even have the car.. it's a problem.[/QUOTE]

The fuel pump issues are VERY blown out of proportion . I have an e92 with 98k and no issues (original pump). You have to remember the amount of cars being built are in the 100,000's, and the number of bad ones is in the 100's. Not to mention the fact that the only people that post are the ones that have problems. I went through this when I was researching my car (I've had both the e90 and e92) and haven't had any of the problems with either car. The issue with the D/I is across the board true; but a simple fix; Clean the ports every 50-100k, again not that hard even as a DYI (I've done it twice now). For tuning possibilities you won't get a better engine than the N54. The 28/30i just doesn't have that many tuning parts out there. You also can't beat the fuel economy of the N54 if you keep off the fun pedal for DD. I average 29 mpg on hwy with a stage 1 tune.
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      12-19-2012, 07:02 AM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Vegetable View Post
An almost identical feel on the road as its RWD counterparts but with the capability of getting out of your driveway when it snows 12".
I've had my fill of Awd in the audis I've had, after sliding around in a rwd car I have no desire for an Awd platform. Plus, southern Virginia sees snow maybe 3-4 times a year(or less) so..

Quote:
The fuel pump issues are VERY blown out of proportion . I have an e92 with 98k and no issues (original pump). You have to remember the amount of cars being built are in the 100,000's, and the number of bad ones is in the 100's. Not to mention the fact that the only people that post are the ones that have problems. I went through this when I was researching my car (I've had both the e90 and e92) and haven't had any of the problems with either car. The issue with the D/I is across the board true; but a simple fix; Clean the ports every 50-100k, again not that hard even as a DYI (I've done it twice now). For tuning possibilities you won't get a better engine than the N54. The 28/30i just doesn't have that many tuning parts out there. You also can't beat the fuel economy of the N54 if you keep off the fun pedal for DD. I average 29 mpg on hwy with a stage 1 tune.
I'll tentatively put it back on the list.. I will admit, the turbos are attractive for their neck wrenching power delivery. I miss that the most from my s4

What I was concerned mostly about was problems with d/I on the magnitude of something like the b7 rs4. They loose 50-80hp if they don't clean every 15-20k.

Last edited by lolwut; 12-19-2012 at 07:13 AM.
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      12-19-2012, 09:16 AM   #16
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I can tell you that my E90 330i certainly feels special enough to me to keep for a considerable amount of time. I figure it's the last of the top-of-the-line 3-series that was still a NA I6, and I'm quite looking forward to slowly modding it and morphing it into exactly the car I want it to be.

Granted, this is the first car I'll have actually purchased (and certainly my first BMW), so there might just be some sentimental value there.
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      12-19-2012, 09:53 AM   #17
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I have a 330i and love it. It's not as fast as a 335i or an M3, but for a daily driver that can still provide fun when asked, it's pretty good. And, I don't feel like I have to be doing triple digit speeds to have fun. I also recommend a manual transmission for added enjoyment, but that's just my personal opinion.
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      12-19-2012, 09:59 AM   #18
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I'm on my second E90 (2008, 2011) and they are great cars IMO. Mine have been totally reliable and the handling, sophistication and engine are first rate. I recommend looking for a 328 with Sport Package and manual transmission. It makes enough power stock for most people. I'd modify the suspension with coil overs and get aftermarket wheels and non-run flat tires. That would be a damn fine car for any scenario.
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      12-19-2012, 10:05 AM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Michael Schott View Post
I'm on my second E90 (2008, 2011) and they are great cars IMO. Mine have been totally reliable and the handling, sophistication and engine are first rate. I recommend looking for a 328 with Sport Package and manual transmission. It makes enough power stock for most people. I'd modify the suspension with coil overs and get aftermarket wheels and non-run flat tires. That would be a damn fine car for any scenario.
That would be the plan, some coilovers, maybe brakes and just some noise mods/ go have fun while getting 25mpg around town and not have to worry about the insane costs of a low-production vehicle.

Mabye what I need to do is just go drive a few to see if it's what I really want.

Thanks for the responses.
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      12-19-2012, 12:54 PM   #20
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Once I have the coilovers in on my 330i, I will check back here again.
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      12-19-2012, 01:13 PM   #21
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e90 M3. There are no questions.

a 330 is a 6 year old vehicle. Do you think you can really keep someone else's used vehicle for upwards of 20 years?

Get a 2011 e90 M3. The 328 doesn't have enough umph in it to make it fun at all. It's truly a mere daily driver. I've owned 2 of them. It's not going to put a smile on your face like a 300+HP vehicle will, let alone a 414hp beast.
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      12-19-2012, 01:35 PM   #22
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I had a similar dilemma. I went with a 328 due to very attractive pricing and CPO warranty. I considered a 335i but I wanted to DD this car and keep for a long time so reliability issues made it a no go. I also wanted a E46 M3 but again maintenance costs over the long run and reliability issues made it a no go. A nice, clean 330 will be hard to find (E46 or E90) but since the F30 came out, you can get a very good deal on the 328's. A 6 speed manual and the sport package is a must. The car is about 200 lbs lighter then the 335 and it is very enjoyable on twists and turns. You can add a BMW performance exhaust, euro intake, AA tune and even a LSD over time to make this a very capable and enjoyable sedan that will last your for a long time with little or no headaches. My 2 cents.
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