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Discussion Starter #1
Hi guys,

Anyone have any opinions about an E36 320i/is? I've been looking at prices of some 1998 specimens and was wondering if it would be a good alternative to the 325i - i.e is it just a smaller version of the 325i.

Things I'd like to know:
-Is is fun to drive i.e how does it compare with the 325i and 318i?
-Running costs compared with 318/235
-Any known problems i.e would it be equally reliable as a 325i?

Web searches don't seem to turn up much info so I'd appreciate any help.

Cheers
GH.
 

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The 320i coupe was only made until 95 - had one myself. Has more power than a 318is, more torque too, but a good deal less than a 325i. Running costs are actually higher than a 325i believe it or not - only the M3 has a worse MPG figure. Its still fun to drive, and just as reliable as any other 6 pot BMW though.
 

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Discussion Starter #3

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They made the saloon until 98 or so alright. I think its just that the car has to put in more effort to get moving than the 325i - its not an expensive car to run by any means - and the difference in road tax will probably make it as cheap as the 325i anyway. You're right in comparing the 525i and 520i - they'd use the same engines.

If you're after performance, you'll probably get tired of the 320i after a while - its the only reason I don't still have mine (although it thankfully stayed in the family!!). Its a quick enough car, but probably a small bit underpowered. A 323i would be an excellent alternative as the 325i stopped production in 95.
 

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I had a 320i coupe for a few years and absolutely loved it, I bought it over a 318is for a few reasons but the biggest reason was the sound of the 6 over the 4, the 318is is almost as quick but you have to drive it hard to get the best out of it. The 318is has a completely engine to the 318 saloon by the way.

the only thing to look out for as far as I know is the VANOS unit, make sure there are no rattles!!

Best of luck,

Rich.

richie_rvf
 

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Id agree the 4 cylinder sounds noting like the like the 6 but for MPG the 318is is a lot easyer to live with.I have a 325 and i wont add up what it coasts a week in petrol cause it would probably frighten the shite out of me.But i still wouldnt change unless it was an M3 as i mad for the fast cars.Good luck with which ever one you pick both are lovey cars to own.
Jay

 

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Discussion Starter #8
Thanks for all the help guys.

If I had the choice i'd definately go with a something like a 323is. But I'm 26 so the cost (insurance & tax) is high at the moment!

I've actually owned a 325i for a couple of years (a 1994 model) while I was in the US but since coming back I've been relegated back to high insurance premiums and large motor taxes. Found the car pretty fast at first but quickly got used to it! It was a real blast to drive though and the steering feel especially is the thing I remember best, along with a very "well oiled" feeling through all the controls.

I'm probably going to hold off buying another BMW for a while, at least till the insurance comes down. Maybe then an E30 model might be a good bet to maximise the kick out of the 2.0 engine - the 320i doesn't seem to perform an awful lot better on paper than the 318is. Presuably the E30 is a fair bit lighter.

GH
 

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You'd be surprised on the insurance front.
I was 26 when I got my 323ci and the insurance was only €1700 - it can pay to shop around.
 

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I had a failure on a 520i due to the Nikasil problem, it is only on the M52 engines - cost a nice bit to sort!!

Some symptoms of the Nikasil problem are rough running at idle and difficult cold starting, both due to loss of compression. In severe cases, the loss of compression is so bad that the engine loses power. Oil consumption increases dramatically as oil is sucked up the side of the leaky pistons. In extreme cases, the compression decrease is so severe the car will not start in cold weather, especially M52 6-cylinder enginesthe only way to know for sure is to check with BMW if the short block has been changed, they should be able to help once you give them the relevant number

The M52 was fitted to the European E36 3 Series, E34 and E39 5 Series. The early models had the M50 (no VANOS) engine, and the later ones had the M54 (double VANOS) engine. It is only the European single VANOS M52 units that were affected, and even then, not all of these engines were affected.

My car was a 98 so the year is no guarantee, if in doubt walk away!

Also, the performance figures may seem to be very similar but the 320 is easier to get more out of, you really do have to rev the 318is to get good poke out of it, and, in doing that the mpg will obviously be affected, go for a 320i, I could not recommend it any more, I still get to have to odd spin in my old one and it still makes me smile.

Best of luck,

Rich.

richie_rvf
 
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