Monday, April 1, 2013

Used Car Review - BMW 3 Series (2005-2012)

It has been a year since the new generation was released, Myk Belmonte dishes out the strengths of the previous model had.

2005-2012 BMW 3 Series

There is a link between mass market and luxury. Hence, a car from a luxury brand sells well and even sells more units than some mainstream branded vehicles. It is a feat for the brand, especially if you are not based from Maranello.

With over a hundred thousand units sold worldwide, the E90 3 Series can be considered as the best selling Bimmer during 2005 to 2011. Why does it sell well? A broad range of variants, numerous engine choices, and the image of being the ultimate drivers machine. It was the fifth model from the 3 Series range, but for the Philippine market, I suggest you to read the paragraph below.

It was three times the charm for this model in the Philippines, whose idea of luxury is in the form of a three-pointed star. The third model (fifth in the world) is one of the brand's best selling model, with most Bimmer buyers approaching dealerships would mostly end up driving home in it. Until 2012, you can buy this generation brand new, with the F90 being launched in May that year.

Value and Costs
Disclaimer: only sedan versions are included in the price range I would be mentioning. To make the sentence straight to the point, 3 Series sedans (excluding the M model, which commands a very high resale price) can cost you P1,600,000-P2,700,000. Do remember that earlier models and 4-cylinder examples are priced in the lower scale while newer units cost, obviously, higher. As what the doctor ordered, picking up a pre-owned unit is the thing to do.

Maintenance costs are at par with European marques but more expensive than their Nippon counterparts. To avoid potential headaches, make sure to have a keen eye towards the engine like topping up with the necessary oils and lubricants. Standard gadgets must be checked thoroughly since it is fun to have them, until they break down.

Exterior and Interior
Norbert Reithofer and Burkhard Goeschel are the persons who took time to design this vehicle, so no more Bangle and van Hooydonk criticisms of flame surfacing here. Squint longer and you'll see some traces of the E46 3 Series here, flowing lines are standard and the lineage continues on.

Comparing this to the predecessor, there is more space (although not that much) at the back but the controls remain driver oriented, with the center console being angled towards the driver. Large gauges are the standard here, and a tradition of the 3 Series. Controls are intuitive and thankfully, the dreaded iDrive is not standard among PHDM E90's.

If you have noticed among the Ultimate Used Car Guide reviews of BMW's, it is the long list of the available engines and thus, contributing to the lengthy paragraph for the engine section. Enough of this, let's go to serious business; with the first engine made an option is the N43B20 1,995cc that has 141hp at 6,000rpm and 190Nm at 4,250rpm. Carrying the same displacement but having a different engine name and figures is the N46B20 with 170hp at 6,700rpm and 210Nm at 4,250rpm. An inline six gasoline was once available in the form of the N54B30 2,979cc that possess 218hp at 6,100rpm and 270Nm at 2,400-4,200rpm. 2007 saw the launch of an oil burner and it is a N47D20 1,995cc with 177hp at 4,000rpm and 350Nm at 1,750-3,000rpm. Let us give each engine a brief but direct description, with the base N43B20 having the same figures of an FD Civic 1.8 and while speed is decent, body weight is what prevents to push through. The N46B20 has adequate acceleration but the inline six models have great pull. If there is one all-around model, it would be the 320d models that have the diesel under the hood. They perform well since a wide range of revs can be had.

Driving Impressions
They said that sports cars can seat two people, but the 3 Series allows you to take four persons for the unadulterated fun. Balance is the key, with the suspension and engine combo doing a great task of accelerating this vehicle. To end this paragraph, when it comes to driving dynamics, the 3 Series is hard to beat and definitely undisputed.

Owning the 3 Series is a wonderful experience, since you get sports car driving feel with the practicality of a four door sedan. And with the availability of pre-owned units, the case of buying one is stronger. 

The Good:
  • The ultimate driver's machine
  • Torquey engines (except for the base model)
  • Wide range of models, an advantage for the buyer
The Bad:
  • Bare looking interior
  • Space is not that much
  • Confusing number of variants, a disadvantage for a first time and uninformed buyer
The Pick: 320d models

Engines: 1,995cc N43B20 and N46B20 I4 gasoline, 1,995cc N47D20 I4 diesel, and 2,979cc N54B30 I6 gasoline
Power: 141hp @ 6,000rpm (N43B20), 170hp @ 6,700rpm (N46B20), 177hp @ 4,000rpm (diesel), 218hp @ 6,100rpm (3.0)
Torque: 190Nm @ 4,250rpm (N43B20), 210Nm @ 4,250rpm (N46B20), 350Nm @ 1,750-3,000rpm (diesel), 270Nm @ 2,400-4,200rpm (3.0)
Fuel Consumption: 6-9km/L (city), 12-14km/L (highway) (*estimated and varies)
Transmission: 6-speed manual, 6-speed automatic
Suspension: Front independent McPherson strut, rear independent multi-link

Price (New): P1,990,000-P3,200,000
Price (Now): P1,600,000-P2,700,000
Rivals: Audi A4, Lexus IS, Mercedes Benz C Class
On Sale: 2005-2012

Prestige Cars BMW - (02) 892-8127
Autohaus BMW - (02) 638-0734
Autozentrum BMW - (02) 772-6021

Photos courtesy of

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