Buyer's Guide

BMW E46 3 Series Buyer's Guide

BMW E46 3 series BMW E46 convertible BMW E46 330 interior

The fourth generation of BMW’s 3 series is the E46 which was released in 1999. The BMW E46 3 Series was launched starting with the 323i and the 328i saloons. These models were quite different in style than the previous 3 Series the E36

The E46 was also larger than its predecessor, the E36 3 series . This time its wheelbase was increased to 107.3” with overall of 176’’ which allowed the E46 to have 50/50%, -perfect weight distribution. As the E46 had its wheelbase increased, the rear seats got roomier. At the same time, curtain airbags became available to enhance safety.By the 2000 model year the two door coupe models, the 323Ci and the 328Ci were introduced. That same year a convertible version of the 323Cic was launched. The following year the E46 was again upgraded by BMW. The 325i with a 184 hp engine, and the 2.8 liter 328 was changed into the 330i with a 3.0 liter which had 225 hp. The convertible models were fitted with both ,the 2.3 and 3 liter engines, although the wagons only offering remained the 2.5 liter.By 2003 consumers were given the option to have the DVD-based navigation system for the 3 Series.

BMW E46 Specification
E46 330i E46 325i E46 328i E46 323i
Production years 2001-2006 2001-2006 1999-2000 1999-2000
Engine 2979cc 6cyl DOHC 2494cc 6cyl DOHC 2793cc 6cyl 2494cc 6cyl
Horse Power 225hp@5900rpm 184hp@6000rpm 195hp@5500rpm 172hp@5500rpm
Torque 214lb-ft@3500rpm 175lb-ft@3500rpm 206lb-ft@3500rpm 181lb-ft@3500rpm
0-60mph 6.4 sec 7.1 sec 6.6 sec 8.0 sec
Top Speed 128 mph-ltd. 128mph-ltd. - -
Compression Ratio 10.2:1 10.5:1 10.2:1 10.5:1
Weight Auto/Manual 3362 / 3285 lbs 3307 / 3218 lbs 3197 lbs 3153 lbs
Length 176 inches 176 inches 176 inches 176 inches
Width 68.5 inches 68.5 inches 68.5 inches 68.5 inches
Height 56.5 56.5 inches 56.5 inches 56.5 inches

The 323i and 328i were available till 2000, from 2001 on the 325 and 330i models took over with better torque and horsepower ratings. The 2003 model of the E46 Coupe and Convertible were given several enhancements incuding, wider kidney grilles, new style bumper and side indicators, optional Adaptive Front Headlights and larger light housing, new rear light cluster using LED technology, color coded Park Distance Control sensors on new designed rear apron, six-speed Sequential Manual Gearbox for the 330i and 325i coupe and convertible, wider boot grab handle for the Coupe, Dyanamic Stability Control (DSC) and six-speed manual transmission for the 330Ci coupe and convertible, 330i sedans.

330i ZHP

ZHP Performance package: A new option was introduced with the 2003 model year for the 330i BMW sedan the ZHP - performance package, this greatly enhanced the 330i with a slight HP (10HP) and torque (8ft-lb) increase and 6800 rpm redline. BMW planned the ZHP for the sedan versions only to give a substitute for those that preferred the 4 door sedan configuration and wanted better performance initially with a 6 speed only option in 2003, however the performance package quickly made it's way through the full E46 330i line, and the 330ci convertible and coupe both received the optional package, furthermore the stepronic auto transmission became optional from 2004 on. The design of the ZHP was done by BMW's Motorsport division, these vehicles tend to hold their value better than the average 330i E46. 0-60 performance came down to 5.6seconds with a ¼ mile time of 14.2 seconds.
Being one of the best and most desired cars on the market, taking the #1 spot as the car of the year the E46 BMW 3 series models do have some bugs so to speak that require regular maintenance or periodic replacement: •lower control arm bushings: "front thrust arm bushings" a regular replacement  item on the E46 models in as little as 30-40k miles. • camshaft position sensors • window regulators can go bad time to time Keeping proper and regular maintenance however can make the E46 as a top choice.

ZHP specific features:

  • Enhanced sport suspension
  • M tuned exhaust system
  • Short throw six speed gearbox
  • New camshafts and lighter flywheel
  • +10hp power output and 6800rpm redline
  • 3.07:1 Final drive ratio w. 6spd manual
  • 18" double spoke style style 135M wheels
  • alcantara wrapped steering wheel
  • alcantara/cloth interior
  • M ZHP spoilers
  • RED instrument needles
  • Larger diameter sway bars
  • 13.7:1 Steering ratio

---BMW ZHP 330i insturments cluster---

The E46 was insanely successful for BMW. It was a best seller worldwide. In 2002 alone, the Bavarian auto maker moved 561249 E46 cars. This particular 3 series body style became the benchmark which all other luxury and near luxury sedans strove to be and to compete with. In mid 2005, BMW phased out the E46 sedan and introduced the E90 saloon. By the end of 2007, all E46s would be phased out in favor of newer body styles for the coupe, convertible and M3

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