BMW 3 Series
E46 II 3 Series
1 Oct 2001
It was good news all-round for keen drivers, with sharpened suspension and steering joining the sleeker nose and tail-lift.
Better still, the four-cylinder E46 3 Series gained BMW’s excellent Valvetronic engines, engaged to either a five-speed manual or five-speed automatic gearbox.
A 105kW/200Nm 2.0-litre DOHC 16V unit with variable-valve timing – providing the type of performance hitherto unseen in four-pot 3 Series – motivated the 318i sedan and 318ti Compact, while the entry level 316ti Compact made do with a smaller version, an 85kW/175Nm 1.8.
From early 2003 all models benefited from stability control software. A year later the body-kitted, sports-suspended Sport was added to the base and Executive 318i range.
Meanwhile, the straight-six-cylinder models – the 125kW/210Nm 2.2-litre 320i, 320Ci Coupe and (from mid-2002) 320i Touring wagon, 141kW/245Nm 2.5-litre 325i and 325Ci Coupe (and Convertible from mid-2004) and 170kW/300Nm 3.0-litre 330i and 330Ci Coupe and Convertible – continued with the drivetrain they gained from October 2000, but in the facelifted body.
The Coupe and Convertible received their own visual makeover from March 2003, limited to new headlights and tail-lights.
Two months later, the 252kW/350Nm M3 Convertible joined the fabulous M3 Coupe released two years earlier.
A variation of its optional SMG sequential manual gearbox (a six-speed manual is standard) also filtered down to 325 and 330-engined models from early 2004.
The Road to Recovery podcast series
20th of May 2003
BMW 2001 3 Series 318i Executive sedan
More power and new looks keep BMW's 318i atop the executive compact sedan heap
28th of August 2002
BMW 2001 3 Series Compact 5-dr hatch range
BMW hatches its second-generation three-door and adds a six-cylinder version
When it was new
10th of March 2005
BMW 3 Series coupe Special Edition now available
3 Series coupe buyers can dig a little deeper for value-added Special Edition
18th of May 2004
BMW 3 Series two-doors inflate
Prices, specs and models grow in BMW’s blossoming 3 Series range
25th of July 2002
First Oz drive: BMW 325ti is tight and cheeky
The 325ti Compact is probably the cheapest BMW to qualify as a truly rewarding driver's car
25th of February 2002
BMW adds small wagon
Latest 3 Series version here in June