The BMW 3-Series entered production in 1975 with the E21 as a replacement to the 02-Series cars. The second generation E30 entered production in 1982 while the next generation E36 was introduced in 1990. 1997 saw the introduction of the E46 generation. In 2008, they released the E90 (sedan), E91 (station wagon), E92 (coupé) and E93 (convertible). The sixth generation F30/F35 (sedan), F31 (station wagon) and F34 (fastback) were introduced in 2011. The latest G20 3-Series came to us in 2019.
The quirky 3-Series Compact came into existence in 1993 as a hatchback 3-Series with the E36, though they are called the E36/5. In 2000, they released the E46/5 and the compact was finally discontinued in 2004.
The “best sports car ever”, the M3 was introduced in 1986 with the E30 coupé, though a convertible was also made available later. The E36 M3 was introduced in 1990 as a coupé, convertible and sedan. The E46 M3 entered in 2000 as a coupe and convertible. The next generation saw the E90, E92 and E93 being sold as M3's. When the newest M3 so far was being released, they restricted this name to be used for the sedan F80 models and gave the coupé (F82) and convertible (F83) models the M4 badge. Though the G20 is out, an M3 of the generation is due to 2020 and until then, only the F80's are available.
Though BMW entered the Indian shores in 2006 and 3-Series (E90) was one of their introductory cars, and offered competition to Audi A4, Ford Mondeo, Honda Accord, Hyundai Sonata, Mercedes-Benz C-Class, Škoda Superb and Toyota Camry. As 13 years have passed since the introduction, these cars have aged well. Although we did not get the greater 325d, 330d, 335d, 323i, 325i, 328i, 335i or M3 models assembled here, we had the 320d and 320i models. These cars although are not the best at performance, are proven tuners and mild performance cars. Depending upon the condition, E90 models are available for prices in the range of ₹3,10,000 and ₹17,00,000. However, ads with prices above ₹10,00,000 are basically of those overambitious owners who do not know what depreciation is. Down below is a brief of both the engines available.
• 320d variants had the diesel N47D20 turbocharged I4 engine generating a power of 181 bhp and 380 Nm. The ARAI rated mileage was 9.7 kmpl.
• 320i variants had the petrol N46B20 naturally aspirated I4 engine generating a power of 156 bhp and 200 Nm whose ARAI rated mileage was 8.8 kmpl.
Reasons to buy a 320d/320i:
• Price: As mentioned above, these cars are now available for really cheap prices, especially the earlier models. The lowest you can expect is just around ₹3,00,000 and depending upon the condition, city and year, the prices may range up to ₹10,00,000 in most cases. However, one thing German manufacturers still struggle with is their maintenance expenses. The number of B.M.W. dealers in India is also an issue as they are not as many, hence you may suffer some maintenance problems.
• Practicality: Being luxury sedans, the 3-Series are quite comfortable and practical. They have plenty of comfort features like lumbar support, leather upholstery, rain sensors, parking sensors etc. Both the front and second rows are very comfortable and can easily seat four people. The boot space is also great at 460 litres. The automatic transmission ensures smooth and convenient city ride and also highway performance. The suspensions are on a softer side though they can be tuned aftermarket to be stiffer. However, the 320d M Sport offers stiffer suspensions stock if you so prefer.
• Performance: For the Indian market, this car is a gem with the amount of performance and tuning potential it carries! Both the 320i and 320d come mated to a 6 speed torque converter automatic transmission. They use quick responsive dual wishbone suspensions at both front and rear. The wheel sizes are 225/50 R16 and brakes are discs on all four corners. The layout is front-engine (longitudinal) and rear-wheel drive. This makes them especially good candidates for anything related to an over-steering joy, as there are hardly any cheap RWD cars in India. If you require exterior modifications, aftermarket and OEM body kits, spoilers, hoods etc. are also easily available as these cars are quite popular.
- The 1995 cc turbocharged diesel has the capacity to be easily chiptuned to 210 bhp and 420 Nm with a stage 1 remap and 220 bhp and 440 Nm with a stage 2 remap provided by SM Tuning. Its quick 7.6 second 0-96 km/h acceleration can be lowered further down with these tunes and modifications. Since these cars are so popular, there are plenty of tunes offered by AC Schnitzer, Hartage, Steinbauer etc. Read this thread on Team BHP for some insight.
- The 1997 cc naturally aspirated petrol has also has some great tuning potential. An easy chiptune from SM Tuning will take it to 176 bhp and 220 Nm. Other modifications like a turbocharger or a supercharger can also be done if you have enough dedication.
Highway Performance: 80
Modification Potential: 60
Ride Quality: 90
Parts Quality and Reliability: 60
Modification Potential: 70
Maintenance Expenses: 40
VFM Factor: 40
Average Score: 65/100
Best Score Yet: Toyota Fortuner MK1 (78/100)
I rate the bmw 320d/320i e90 an average 3 stars.