The BMW E46 M3 has always been number one in our minds BMW Motorsports enthusiasts. There are some good reasons why it is one of the most popular M-Class cars ever produced. It is said to be the last car from the M Series that feels true to the ‘old school’ spirit. A true successor to the first E30 M3, with a more rounded and exclusive M3 look compared to its predecessor, the E36 M3.
While BMW M’s sports division doesn’t compromise in any way, it seems the engineers of these great cars are doing a great job continuing their lineage. Fortunately, it doesn’t look like this segmentation will slow down any time soon. They are not far from The essence of motorsports, and the people behind modernizing technologies, security, and amenities from one generation to the next, able to keep improving them. Although its current design doesn’t currently set the best tone with its new G chassis and massive front grille, its drivability remains true to the M essence. But we’re here to focus on a particular BMW, the E46, and we’re here to show you what we love about it the most, and also what could dissuade us from buying one.
10/10 timeless design
As mentioned earlier, the design characteristics of the E46 are a well-balanced car with just the right curves. With strong proportions such as a bulging hood, wide fenders, and a powerful front bumper that allows for better cooling, it still lives up to modern car designs.
Car enthusiasts of all ages usually love cars that are aging in addition to this. With subtle design cues of aggressiveness and elegance, it certainly makes a statement and presence, Which makes it one of the most popular BMW cars today
9/10 Driving Experience
The E46 Driving Experience is where the magic of the car will capture you in an instant. It is supported by them Legendary engine S54, a racing-inspired 3.2-liter V6 with 338 horsepower and 269 pound-feet of torque. This engine has won the prestigious Engine of the Year award eight times.
It really gives you pure raw power from an NA rev-happy engine with exhaust tones characteristic of BMW. The gritty, gritty sound makes you want to press that pedal harder the more you drive.
8/10 overall simplicity
The E46’s overall simplicity makes it perfect. From subtle design cues to straightforward functional aerodynamics, they make it as easily lovable as they are.
The special details are The obvious differences carried over from the E30 M3. This is the perfect recipe for when you want to be direct with your audience.
The overall performance of the E46 is amazing. Although the S54 was not the newest or most powerful engine at the time, this development was simply intended to send a message to the world about the last inline-6 engine before the turbocharger took over the market.
The perfect balance of power and weight has been meticulously crafted into a symphony that people will continue to crave, hence perfecting their current inline 6 design coming from the previous generation E36.
6/10 build quality
BMW’s M division may focus on the motorsport aspect of the car, but the build quality is also well taken care of. If you examine the market for a used E46, the majority of the components are still completely intact in the cars that have been looked after. This of course excludes heavily modified cars for obvious reasons.
You will easily appreciate the high-end build quality if you are in the market for a used M3. The interior pieces are usually completely intact and in place, making it easier to maintain their condition.
The BMW community in general is made up of true racing enthusiasts. With motorsports at the heart and soul of BMW, that extends to car owners. You will easily meet a large number of people who share your intentions and goals for your car.
In fact, the community is huge, owners do all kinds of things for their cars. There are groups that focus on building their BMWs into drift machines, there are groups that focus primarily on racetrack times, and there are groups that really want to keep their car in its original shape.
4/10 synthesis and customization
Tuning and customizing the E46 M3 is one of the great factors that makes so many people want to own one, regardless of the entry price point.
There are bolt-on turbocharger and turbocharger kits readily available for the E46 if you want to raise your power numbers significantly at a relatively reliable rate. Also, if you want to keep your engine with the original ambition, there are also many aftermarket parts that will support this, including major internal parts, such as cams, pistons, connecting rods, etc.
3/10 Fantastic platform
Overall, the E46 M3 is a great platform to start with. It’s an overall well-balanced car that can be driven easily on a daily basis, is relatively comfortable to drive with great driving visibility, and the seating position is driver-focused.
This car lets you have fun anytime you want to go on a car ride, well, unless you specifically buy it as a trailer queen for auto shows.
2/10 We wouldn’t buy one: maintenance cost
Of course, the downside to owning a European performance car is the maintenance cost that will come with it. Even if you buy the most authentic E46 M3 condition available on the market, you still have to do some form of preventative maintenance for it, and fluids alone for a car isn’t something you can buy on the cheap, simply because it will need a premium. Products and viscosity to be fully protected.
This makes it really difficult to find a good car nowadays, simply because of the modifications that a lot of owners have made to their cars. When you find one, and if it’s an air-conditioned vehicle, you’ll feel it in your wallet once you replace the major mechanical parts, so you can totally enjoy screaming to the max rpm.
1/10 We Won’t Buy One: Subframe and Floor Problems
Another common issue that would make us shy away from buying this car is the rear subframe and floor issue. This has been an issue since the E36, which has also been ported to the E46.
The rear subframe is usually eaten by rust, which makes the car’s rigidity questionable, and the rear suspension parts connected to the subframe will also be affected, which means safety is at risk. It’s a huge job to fix and can cost a lot unless you’re a fairly decent mechanic/welder.
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