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E46 (1999 - 2006)
The fourth generation 3 Series (E46 chassis) was introduced in 1999 and set the standard for engineering and performance during it's years of production including being named to Car & Driver's 10 best list every one of those years! ! -- View the E46 Wiki

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  #1  
Old 05-31-2006, 08:33 PM
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johnnygraphic johnnygraphic is offline
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E46 vs E90

I had the pleasure of driving a 2006 325i for the Memorial Day weekend some 500 miles over a bunch of different type of roads. It was a loaner since my car was in for service. (Sorry for covering this again but I felt it my civic duty to do it!)

The first thing I noticed was that it was very quiet. I could only hear a little engine noise and tire noise. That was it. Very nice ride too. It was a regular model, it didn't have the sport suspension, so I can't really comment on the handling too much. I'm not sure if it was my imagination or if the steering was over boosted, but I don't knoww if it had the active steering or not. The ride was quite isolated and very nice. The car did turn in nicely and the handling was adequate. I didn't really push it very hard since I don't like to do that very much in an unfamiliar car on public roads. The automatic was also very smooth-too smooth. Upshifts/downshifts didn't have any of that 'kick'. The transition between gears took a little too long and even at wide open throttle, there was too much 'padding' of the clutch. I also thougt it odd (I've never driven a auto BMW) that when you're in manual mode in 5th gear, if you stomp on the accelerator it will automatically downshift for you, that it will decide for you which gear you want to be in vs. just going wide open in that particular gear. I didn't really care for the seats (I had back surgery 5 months ago). Even though it has more adjustments (lumbar), I prefer the seats in my ZHP. So, I wound up with a sore back during my drive. It did not have Navi, so no iDrive. So, the radio display portion was just the regular type. It was quite irritating because my sunglasses washed out the display for the radio. I had to keep moving my sunglasses out of the way to see what station I was on. However, I was able to see the AC controls etc. And regarding the AC controls...FINALLY BMW figured out that simple rotary dials are much more intuitive to use. However, I'd rather see the dials that have a definite Start & End to them (Like 9 & 3). Is it just me or are my arms too short? (Keep the comments to yourself!). When I went to adjust the mirrors, it seems like I had to reach too far forward to get to them. I know I'll get hate mail for this, but, the window controls are where they seem to make the most sense. (I did get used to them being on the center console though...)

The trunk is very nice and roomy.

O.K. WHAT IS UP WITH THE KEY AND THE START BUTTON!!! Tough to get used to and I always had to think if I'm doing it right. The START button is kind of a neat idea, but, the whole "push it in until it clicks and then you can take it out but there will be a light on the dash until you put it back and then you'll have to push it all the way in until it clicks again to make sure you turn off the whole car" is a little annoying. Keep things simple.

AND, WHAT IS UP WITH THE SIGNAL STALK!!! Gently push to signal for 3 flashies, push until it clicks to make it stay, then, if it doesn't automatically turn off, push it the other way. Very tiresome. It takes too much attention away from driving to make sure you're not eternally signally. Logically, it makes sense, but in real practice, it's just plain over-engineering.

O.K. I think I'm thru. All in all, I missed my ZHP (Bottom line).

Thanks for listening & let the replies FLY!!!

Johnny

Last edited by johnnygraphic; 05-31-2006 at 08:36 PM.
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  #2  
Old 06-01-2006, 11:08 AM
sshuit sshuit is offline
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I'm a former E46 owner and I'm less than fond of the E90.

The styling is awkward, the ergnomics are terrible and the push button start is ridiculous. The much better system is the one in the Prius where the key stays in your pocket and even the doors unlock without taking the keyfob from your pocket.

That being said the engines and manual drivetrain are astonishingly good.

I'm going to pass on the E90 and wait until I can afford a E46 M3 or Lotus Elise.
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  #3  
Old 06-01-2006, 02:22 PM
ClubSpec330i ClubSpec330i is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sshuit
I'm a former E46 owner and I'm less than fond of the E90.

I'm going to pass on the E90 and wait until I can afford a E46 M3 or Lotus Elise.
If I were you, I would pass on E46 M3 too. E46 M3 is a great car but more of a GT cruiser..I am selling my '05 ZCP for a Lotus Exige.
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  #4  
Old 06-01-2006, 09:01 PM
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johnnygraphic johnnygraphic is offline
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Yes, I found that I accidentally would push the cruise control levers instead of the turn signal stalk. The drivers behind were probably thinking that I was turning left, right, then left again only to stay in my current lane.

The cupholders seem to be o.k. Never had the water bottle fly out of it. Oh, and big gulps will only fit the bottom one inch. Best not to make any stops at the local 7-11 in your new E90!

I did like the extra space in the trunk though. Especially that neat little hidden compartment!

Johnny
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  #5  
Old 06-02-2006, 02:04 AM
Colin Colin is offline
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E90 vs E46

Hi, all,

It's been some time since I last posted, but the ongoing E90 better/worse than E46 debate really captures my fancy.

Like all cars, there are things to like and dislike in both the E90 and its predecessor. It's a matter of where your priorities lie that will give either the nod over the other.

For me, the E90 has great refinement, fantastic drivetrains (sampled only the 320i and 320d, so far though), an even sharper chassis response on the open road than the E46 and great on road presence (more on which later).

Drawbacks of the new models are, however, too many for it to make it an unqualified success. Please bear with me if this sounds repetitious either because earlier posters have already brought them up or because I've posted these opinions before:

a) Dash is plain ugly. This could be subjective, but I still do not warm to the plank straight, minimalist look of the new design w/o i-Drive, while the twin cowl version with i-Drive is shades worse.

b) Unergonomic details - stop/start button with cartridge key, electronic turn signals, obscured cruise control, fiddly i-Drive, rear seat that has less headroom and outer edges that are so uncomfortably hard that the added width and leg/knee room are wasted, boot access still as bad as ever, particularly so if the optional computer tray is ordered.

c) Not driver/passenger focused - no temperature gauge but a pointmess vacuum gauge, no dipstick, poor ergonomics (as above), flimsy cup holders, courtesy light goes out the minute you slip the cartridge key into its slot so you cannot belt up and do any adjustments while there is light.

d) Deterioration of cabin plastic quality - door trims feel especially hard after the E46.

e) Styling not to everyone's taste - to me the E90 has presence only because it is UGLY!

f) The car feels limp and flaccid in tight, urban situations, unlike the E46, which was more easily manoeuvred and did not feel at all out of its depth on backroad blasts.

Compared to the E90, the E46 may be more cramped in the back, less refined on the move and not as sharp in handling, but for me (and I guess many on this forum), a much better balance of qualities and attributes.

I suspect that the E90 sells more on its image and brand desirability than on pure merit/talent, even though it is hardly the class dunce. Some would say this was already so of the E46, but at least the old model was not so compromised and diluted to appeal to the masses. It appealed to those who put driving pleasure ahead of all other considerations and could deliver without adopting useless gimmicks.


Colin
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  #6  
Old 06-03-2006, 07:35 AM
CSBM5 CSBM5 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Colin
f) The car feels limp and flaccid in tight, urban situations, unlike the E46, which was more easily manoeuvred and did not feel at all out of its depth on backroad blasts.
I've found no such thing with the E90 sport package 330i with 6MT. I have both that and an E46 330i 6MT with ZHP package (and of course the M5 and 850R). The E90 with this setup is very similar to the ZHP on turn-in (not quite as radical which in some situation is a good thing), and the E90 is almost every bit as much fun as the ZHP when you are kicking tail with the car. The E46 ZHP is definitely rawer, louder, structure feels less stiff than E90 (it is), etc. The E90 steering communicates very well near the limit, you have great butt feel for what the tail is doing, and it is every bit as quick as the E46 ZHP up through the gears...the E90 330i 6MT sport actually traps one mph faster in the 1/4 mile than the ZHP for what its worth.

I've been driving BMWs since 1974, and I think they actually did a great job on the E90...a much better transition than the E39 to E60. The E90 is much improved in many aspects compared to the E60. Comfort Access works great also...my wife loves that and the seamless Bluetooth for her phone and how it works well with iDrive (i.e. phonebook, dialing, etc), never having to take her phone or key out of her purse. The sport package on the 330i is every bit as good or better than any sport package BMW in the past imo...perhaps a bit too stiff for "typical" buyers however. The sport seats are not quite up to the comfort and feel of the Alcantara seats in the ZHP or the seats in my M5 however.

FYI...it's not a "vacuum guage". Since 1983 when BMW introduced Bosch Motronic, they have, off and on, included the fuel consumption gauge which does a direct and continuous calculation of fuel flow rate versus car velocity. The E46 ZHP has it also just like my 1985 535i did. I view it as worthless. At the same location in my M5 there is an oil temperature gauge.

Cheers,
Chuck
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  #7  
Old 06-02-2006, 10:36 AM
adc adc is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ClubSpec330i
If I were you, I would pass on E46 M3 too. E46 M3 is a great car but more of a GT cruiser..I am selling my '05 ZCP for a Lotus Exige.
I guess if you don't care about refinement or the additional 2 seats, the Exige is an excellent choice. But if you do care about refinement or the engine, have you thought about the new Z4 M Coupe?

And BTW, how much are you looking to get for that nasty useless ZCP piece of kit?

adc
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  #8  
Old 06-03-2006, 09:54 AM
akhbhaat akhbhaat is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ClubSpec330i
E46 M3 is a great car but more of a GT cruiser.
Why is it that only E46 M3 owners (and former E46 M3 owners) seem to realize this?

Back on topic:

The reason for the start button is simple: to allow cars with the comfort access option to start without designing and producing two seperate ignition systems. Some of the strange ergonomic features of the E90 make sense if your car has the right options. I suspect that comfort access will eventually become standard as the E90 line matures.

Nevertheless, there are still things that I don't like...for example, the window switches being placed on the driver's door instead of the center console. Why? Ever notice that the driver side door doesn't even have a handle bar...that it was apparently removed to allow access to the window switches? Why not just leave them where they were?

And I don't like the new turn signal stalk, or the cruise control stalk in place of the buttons that the E46 used. Whereas the climate control system (for one) is greatly improved, other things have gotten worse. It's as though BMW was trying to reinvent the wheel with some of these "innovations."
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  #9  
Old 06-03-2006, 10:26 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by akhbhaat
And I don't like the new turn signal stalk, or the cruise control stalk in place of the buttons that the E46 used. Whereas the climate control system (for one) is greatly improved, other things have gotten worse. It's as though BMW was trying to reinvent the wheel with some of these "innovations."

I concur. The turn signal/cruise control makes you fumble for the right one, often hitting the wrong one, hence making yourself look like you dont know how to signal your car. One thing I did like about the new cruise control is way that the little red meter came up right behind the speedometer and showed the digital set speed on the console. Only plus. I liked the buttons better.
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  #10  
Old 06-03-2006, 10:39 AM
CSBM5 CSBM5 is offline
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I don't drive the E90 too much, but I've never had a problem with the turn signal stalk vs cruise stalk since the cruise one is much lower and shorter. We did just take the E90 on a trip down to SC beach and back a couple of weeks back, and I was impressed with how well the cruise works. When you push forward to set it, the speed shows in the display and the little marker appears and rotates to that speed on the speedo. If you just lightly press the lever forward, it shows the speed setting again and increases 1mph. If you hold it right there, it will increase in 1mph increments. Let go to set speed. If you press further, it will jump up to the next round 5mph speed and increase in 5mph increments. All of this is reversed for pulling back on the stalk. Anyway, it works very nicely, and they did a good job with it.
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  #11  
Old 06-02-2006, 12:04 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sshuit
The much better system is the one in the Prius where the key stays in your pocket and even the doors unlock without taking the keyfob from your pocket.
That's exactly how it works in the 3 series!
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  #12  
Old 06-02-2006, 08:30 PM
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johnnygraphic johnnygraphic is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jspira
That's exactly how it works in the 3 series!
When I first got in the loaner, I pushed the start button & nothing happened. I felt silly when the loaner car gal told me I had to put the key in first! Unless it can be programmed to work that way, it didn't work for me like that.

Johnny
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  #13  
Old 06-02-2006, 09:02 PM
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JSpira JSpira is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by johnnygraphic
When I first got in the loaner, I pushed the start button & nothing happened. I felt silly when the loaner car gal told me I had to put the key in first! Unless it can be programmed to work that way, it didn't work for me like that.

Johnny
If the car has Comfort Access (,,Komfortzugang``), then it works that way. You or someone in the thread made the comparison to cars which have that feature, such as the Prius. Well, if you order the Prius with the honda equiv. of CA, then it works without putting the key in, same thing for the BMW.
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  #14  
Old 06-03-2006, 08:56 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by johnnygraphic
When I first got in the loaner, I pushed the start button & nothing happened. I felt silly when the loaner car gal told me I had to put the key in first! Unless it can be programmed to work that way, it didn't work for me like that.

Johnny

Yep... actually you have to put your foot on the brake, then push the little button. Two-step process.
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  #15  
Old 06-03-2006, 09:29 AM
CSBM5 CSBM5 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MrTex
Yep... actually you have to put your foot on the brake, then push the little button. Two-step process.
...or in a "real" one, you just need to depress the clutch pedal and push the button.
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  #16  
Old 06-01-2006, 11:58 AM
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I enjoyed the 325i for a week myself. overall impression was: i liked it, but i like my E46 better. I notice you never mentioned a thing about the cup holders. They are flimsy and ackwardly placed. Also, when I took a bend at 45mph, my water bottle literally flew out of the damn thing, making the cupholders even more useless than in my E46. The only good ones are in the flip-down armrest in the back seat.
The engine was modest and refined, but found the steptronic mode pretty much useless. I left it in DS mode for sporty driving, and regular Drive for relaxed driving. The push button start is pretty much pointless. I prefer my actual key, because if there was an emergency and the accelerator stuck, I could simply cut the ignition and cruise to a stop. Im not sure how that would play out with the push-button.

The radio controls are complicated and require navigation through a menu to change from CD to AUX to RADIO. Also, there is no dial for backlighting on the dash, as that, too, is also incorporated into a computer menu. There is also no oil dipstick to see how black your oil is. Yes, ladies and gents, its all checked through - you guessed it; the computer.

The turn signal was quite annoying and causes confusion. Its too easy to flick, but it returns back to its "neutral" position after you flick it, so when you try to cancel your signal, you end up signalling in the opposite direction, which can make you look like a jackass that cant figure out his fancy BMW. The cruise control lever is also conveniently removed from the steering wheel (to make room for other silly buttons) and placed right below the turn signal, so when you try to turn it off or on, you could hit that silly turn signal instead.

Apart from these things, I think the engine and drivetrain are great. Styling is nice, too, but I think the new style is more geared towards the ladies this time around. Just my $0.02.
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Old 06-02-2006, 06:29 AM
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Limp and flaccid?

Ive never heard a vehicle described that way before.
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  #18  
Old 06-02-2006, 09:19 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MrTex
Limp and flaccid?

Ive never heard a vehicle described that way before.
Makes you think tiwce about using the expression "A man's car is an extension of himself"!
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Old 06-03-2006, 08:11 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MrTex
Limp and flaccid?

Ive never heard a vehicle described that way before.
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  #20  
Old 06-04-2006, 03:58 PM
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icemanjs4 icemanjs4 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by johnnygraphic
It was quite irritating because my sunglasses washed out the display for the radio. I had to keep moving my sunglasses out of the way to see what station I was on.
It's funny, that bugged me too. It's like they didn't account for light polarization (tons of people wear polarized sunglasses) - Note, if you rotate your head while wearing your sunglasses you'll be able to see the display better.

"One thing I did like about the new cruise control is way that the little red meter came up right behind the speedometer and showed the digital set speed on the console."

I like the digital cruise control display . But I realized the little red meter was useless - it jumped up to the point the needle was pointing to. Well I went to look a minute later at the red dial, and realized that the needle was still pointing to the same place! Looks like something from the department of redundancy department.
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Old 06-04-2006, 09:49 PM
jetstream23 jetstream23 is offline
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I've found that I tend not to like the newly designed models of most cars when they first come out, even BMWs. I'm not very fond of the e90 (although I think the redesign of the 3 series was much better than the 7 or the 5). I'm hoping that the look and new features (push to start, etc.) will grow on me over time and I think they will. But I made a very concious decision to get one of the very last brand new e46s before the e90 came along. I love everything about the e46 and wanted to get one late enough that it would still be like new for several years after they stopped being made. Like everything else, the e46 vs. e90 debate comes down to personal preference, there is no wrong answer in whichever you choose....unless it's Mercedes Benz of course
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  #22  
Old 06-05-2006, 06:13 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jetstream23
I've found that I tend not to like the newly designed models of most cars when they first come out, even BMWs. I'm not very fond of the e90 (although I think the redesign of the 3 series was much better than the 7 or the 5). I'm hoping that the look and new features (push to start, etc.) will grow on me over time and I think they will.
The E46 was very unpopular amongst E36 owners when it came out. Come to think of it, the E30 wasn't very much beloved by E21 owners.
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  #23  
Old 06-05-2006, 06:15 AM
CSBM5 CSBM5 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jspira
The E46 was very unpopular amongst E36 owners when it came out. Come to think of it, the E30 wasn't very much beloved by E21 owners.
...and all the 2002 owners thought the E21 was a total joke, the end of BMW!
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