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      07-19-2018, 06:20 AM   #1
CitizenKane
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What would you go for with this budget

Hello.

I'm going to be in the market for a new car later this year or early next year (realistically after my wedding in December). My budget will be approx. £15k, although as I'm in Ireland this means if I'm importing from the UK this will need to include probably £3-4k import tax depending on the car, so in terms of price range for the car itself maybe closer to £11-£12k.

The way I see it my options are:

-e92 330i - Previously I'd always thought about getting a 335i, but recently the idea of a manual n/a i6 sounds more and more appealing to me. Tax and maintenance would be cheaper and theoretically at my budget I should be able to get a nice LCI model. But the problem is these cars are incredibly rare in manual (there are currently 4 for sale on AutoTrader, all pre-LCI). Also I am sure the performance is great but I'd be worried that I would find myself wishing I went for something with that bit more grunt like either of the below.

-e92 335i - I've heard so many great things but as above for some reason I am leaning more towards an n/a engine. Also the tax is considerably higher on these in Ireland than a 330i (by approx. 500 per year) and there is likely a bigger risk of things going wrong. These also seem pretty rare in manual, although not quite as rare as the 330i.

-e46 M3 - If I was to go down this route I'd probably look at a facelift manual coupe which is the most desirable and most expensive combination, but I'd be willing to go a bit over-budget for the right car if I had to. Tax on these is the same in Ireland as a 335i but I assume maintenance is likely to be higher. In terms of raw driving experience I have no doubt this would smash the other two options above. But having said that if the driving experience of something more sensible like a 330i would come anywhere close to the m3 then I'd seriously consider it.

I've never driven any of these cars and obviously I plan to do so before making any decision.

But out of curiosity, if you had my budget which of the above would you go for and why?
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      07-19-2018, 10:41 AM   #2
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I've been fortunate enough to own all 3 of your choices. I'll give you my two penneth, for what it's worth. All mine have been manual cars. I'm not an auto 'box fan at all.

The 330i is a nice car, but it does lack a little in the trouser department. It sounds good and goes well enough, but not enough to be exciting. Certainly not a patch on the 335i or S54 lump in the M3.

The 335i is an interesting one. I've had both N54 and N55 lumps and there's not much to choose between them in standard form. I understand that the N54 is more tuneable, but if you're keeping the car OE, then the N55 is perhaps a bit more robust. I also found the 335i to be more fuel efficient than the 330i. Probably because you don't have to rag it everywhere to get the desired performance. When you do use the performance of a 335i, there is nothing in it, between it and the M3. Having tried this a number of times, straighline performance is within a gnats chuff of being identical.

Now, the E46 M3. Buy the right car and you'll be set. Get a late car, so 2005 onwards. I've had both normal and CS models and they're just great cars to drive. If you want something special, then the M3 is the car out of the 3 you have earmarked. Maintenance is more expensive if done properly, but as a proposition, the M3 is arguably the most appealing.

In your position, I'd look to buy the best manual M3 I could, ensuring that it was rust free, had proper service history with preventative maintenance carried out, plus it has the nice to have extras (H/K, nav, heated seats, bluetooth) that buyers want.

I understand the road tax situation in Ireland, but reckon the lower depreciation of the M3 might repay that over the coming years.
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      07-26-2018, 11:21 AM   #3
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Really helpful reply, thank you! I'm certainly leaning towards the M3. It seems like the chance to own one (or good n/a powered cars in general) is only going to get slimmer as time goes on. Not to mention my own ability to justify a completely impractical car before kids and mortgages and the like start to take over...

For the same reason part of me is also leaning towards an e92 M3. I originally thought this would be way out of my budget but actually pre-LCI they don't seem to be that much more than the type of e46 I'd be going for (facelift manual coupe). In fact a 2008 one would suit because the tax rules changed here in 2008 to emissions based and post-2008 M3's are about 500 quid a year more expensive to tax than pre-2008 ones.

Food for thought...

Anyone have any other experiences or thoughts on the original question?
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      07-26-2018, 07:08 PM   #4
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I've got a LCI 330i manual. Never driven the other ones you're looking at.

As far as driving it goes, I like it. Nice sharp acceleration (once past what feels like a <2000rpm town driving ECU mode), and it sounds nicely loud and noisy when revved, especially at 5000+rpm. But it really does need to be revved to get the best out of it, though - the performance is a bit limp until 3000+rpm, and even at that point it's only getting started. After 10 years of driving diesels, I quite like this somewhat-exciting revviness - but it can get a bit tiring when I'm just driving normally and want to go a bit quicker.

I bet the 335i doesn't have these issues. Probably much less call for going above 3000rpm, so I'm not surprised to hear it might be more fuel efficient for everyday driving. I bet it feels a lot quicker, too...

Additional minor disadvantage: the LCI 330i engine is petrol direct injection, so it's clattery and unrefined at low revs, like a diesel. The gearstick vibrates, and the engine can be felt through the seats. The injectors chirp and cheep loudly enough that with the windows down on a quiet night it sounds like there's a cement mixer running in a nearby street.

Additional major disadvantage: the LCI 330i engine does not seem to be reliable, not at all. Mine has had 1 comically expensive full set of injectors + other guff, a very common fault, luckily in my case with the supplying dealer footing the £2,200+VAT bill. All seemingly OK for a while after that, but I've found in the last month that it's got an oil leak of some kind... something that apparently can be due to the replacement injectors being no good as well! (Do a google for "N53 problems" or smilar - my experience doesn't seem to be unusual.) This type of car just seems to be fundamentally flaky, and may well be worth avoiding on this basis alone.

Anyway, there you go. I like mine, but objectively, it kind of sucks. Now come on, you know you want to: just buy the M3.

--Tom

Last edited by tom_seddon; 07-26-2018 at 07:15 PM.
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      08-01-2018, 03:16 AM   #5
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They all have their plusses and minusses. The engines in the 330i and pre LCI 335i can be unreliable. They both suffer from injector failures, water pump failures and high pressure fuel pump failures. They're both Direct Injection, so coke up in the intake valves, losing performance.
Plus side, they're both very comfortable to drive. An MSport 330i and any 335i (MSport and SE) all have the same suspension setup. (An SE 330i has a softer suspension setup).

The e46 M3 will need to potentially have it big end bearings looked at, and the subframe looked at. Other than this, the other thing to look for is rust.

However, as others have said, the 330i / 335i will still lose value over the next few years. The E46 M3 will not. Certain parts for the M3 will be more expensive, but due to the age of the car now, there are a lot of pattern parts which are cheaper than the original BMW ones. Despite it being an ///M car, they're still relatively easy to work on.

If it was me, i'd go e46 M3.
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      08-01-2018, 03:24 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CitizenKane View Post
Really helpful reply, thank you! I'm certainly leaning towards the M3. It seems like the chance to own one (or good n/a powered cars in general) is only going to get slimmer as time goes on. Not to mention my own ability to justify a completely impractical car before kids and mortgages and the like start to take over...

For the same reason part of me is also leaning towards an e92 M3. I originally thought this would be way out of my budget but actually pre-LCI they don't seem to be that much more than the type of e46 I'd be going for (facelift manual coupe). In fact a 2008 one would suit because the tax rules changed here in 2008 to emissions based and post-2008 M3's are about 500 quid a year more expensive to tax than pre-2008 ones.

Food for thought...

Anyone have any other experiences or thoughts on the original question?

The E92 M3 IS another level when it comes to running and servicing. Fuel economy is way worse than a 335, it prefers super unleaded, rather than normal unleaded. It likes a drop of oil and even pattern parts are very expensive, when compared to a non-M e92. I had a 335i before my M3, and thought that running costs would be similar - even though the M3 has been way more reliable (touch wood!), it' way more expensive to run.

...only saving grace was that my insurance turned out cheaper than when i drove the 335i!!
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      08-01-2018, 09:36 AM   #7
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Pre LCI 330i E92 with N53 engine owner here with autobox.

Absolutely love the car, plenty of power and sounds fantastic at full chat. First thing I changed though was the iDrive to CIC as the CCC felt so dated. So perhaps try and budget for a 2009> as mines a 2008.

Mods I've done other than that are - Black Performance grills, LCI tails, M3 boot lip spoilers, lux angels.

Fuel economy isn't too bad, can easily see 34mpg on a motorway run, otherwise it's around 27-28mpg, which isn't too drastic for a 3.0 litre NA engine.
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      08-02-2018, 03:43 AM   #8
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If you're talking E9* M3, then here's my E90 M3 vs N55 335i on two almost identical trips to France. Both cruising at 80-90 on the Autoroute with some town driving thrown in.





The 330i would be as economical as the 335i on that type of journey. The E46 M3 might squeeze 30mpg average, but only just. My long term average in my current 335i is 31mpg, over the last 5k miles. Not too bad. I use super unleaded in all the cars, so it's a level playing field in that regard.
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      08-16-2018, 12:11 PM   #9
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I own a 335I 2009 model with cic idrive, If you go for a 3 series, Which ever engine, I would make sure to get a 2010 model or newer with usb port in the arm rest.
That way you should be able to get Bluetooth audio & other stuff, I made that mistake, I haven't got usb in armrest or Bluetooth audio just Bluetooth phone. If you like or the little things you don't see.
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      08-16-2018, 03:54 PM   #10
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My 2006 has got cic with armrest usb and Bluetooth audio. Itís a great system and Iím glad a previous owner went to a lot of trouble to get it installed.
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      08-17-2018, 03:50 AM   #11
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Yes fair point about the CIC. My old e92 was 2013 with CIC with USB and Bluetooth and I loved it. Never used CCC but yeah I've heard it's not great.
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      08-17-2018, 11:56 AM   #12
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How about an M135i?

This one is in Ireland

I just found a great car on Auto Trader.
http://www.autotrader.co.uk/classifi...?atmobcid=soc3

Download the app to find your perfect car.
https://play.google.com/store/apps/d...DApp%2520Share
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      08-19-2018, 09:17 AM   #13
CitizenKane
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DanTheManc View Post
How about an M135i?

This one is in Ireland

I just found a great car on Auto Trader.
http://www.autotrader.co.uk/classifi...?atmobcid=soc3

Download the app to find your perfect car.
https://play.google.com/store/apps/d...DApp%2520Share
Itís in Northern Ireland, so Iíd still have to pay VRT - i.e. add 36% on top of that price, and you could get a very nice M3 for that kind of money!
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      08-21-2018, 10:59 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by coleybmw335 View Post
I own a 335I 2009 model with cic idrive, If you go for a 3 series, Which ever engine, I would make sure to get a 2010 model or newer with usb port in the arm rest.
That way you should be able to get Bluetooth audio & other stuff, I made that mistake, I haven't got usb in armrest or Bluetooth audio just Bluetooth phone. If you like or the little things you don't see.
My '09 335i came with USB in the armrest from factory (and cic I-drive) and I've seen other with it from 2008 (build dates) too.
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      08-21-2018, 11:36 AM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dann View Post
My '09 335i came with USB in the armrest from factory (and cic I-drive) and I've seen other with it from 2008 (build dates) too.
Yeah thats right, CIC replaced CCC from September 2008 build.

Bluetooth audio was available from early 2010 when the combox was released. IMO combox is worth having for the bluetooth audio and Spotify integration.
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      10-17-2018, 12:57 PM   #16
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I'm still in car limbo, but been thinking about this a lot and definitely leaning towards an M3, just not sure of the generation yet.

It has occurred to me (having probably already occurred to most people) that since M cars are now all turbocharged, as are Audi's S and RS cars, there really are very limited options for naturally aspirated performance cars these days, particularly this side of the Atlantic. Apart from a few Aston Martins and Porsches (both of which would be out of my budget anyway), what else is there?

I have no doubt that the 335i would be a fine machine, but turbocharging is getting better and better and there will be plenty of time for that in the future, but the opportunity to own a naturally aspirated performance car seems like it is getting narrower by the day.
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      10-18-2018, 01:54 AM   #17
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Yes I agree on the turbo side of things. (yes my 330d is turbo but thats different)
Have you looked at vauxhall VRX8 or 6.0 Monaros? Big V8's, no turbos and some are in your budget. I am a life long vauxhall hater but even I would have my head turned away from BMW by one of those beasts.
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      10-18-2018, 02:44 AM   #18
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or a holden with the LS motor,,sound great,,although the looks are a little,,6.2 litre like this one..https://www.carsales.com.au/dealer/d...444844/?Cr=191
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      10-18-2018, 05:22 AM   #19
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Yeah, I agree, the looks are little on the bling side compared to the much more subtle e92 m3 but thereís no arguing those massive LS V8ís are a great motor.
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      10-18-2018, 07:19 AM   #20
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I wasn't really aware of those cars. Great engines for sure, but my god they are ugly. Any idea how the handling/general driving experience compares to an M?

Either way at comparable money for me it's an M3 all day because I've pretty much always wanted one.
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      10-18-2018, 08:27 AM   #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rasa bmw View Post
or a holden with the LS motor,,sound great,,although the looks are a little,,6.2 litre like this one..https://www.carsales.com.au/dealer/d...444844/?Cr=191
i quite like them,,and you do not see many on our roads,,ive seen 1 in my time in the flesh close up.
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