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Hey Guys,

I would like to start a little debate on what do you think about the quality of the E46 and the E90. (For those who had the chance to drive both.)
I had a E46 (323i) 99' (blue exterior, grey interior) and I recently got a E90 (325i) 05' (silver exterior, black interior) and this is my conclusion:

INTERIOR
- In terms of interior quality I am a little bit dissapointed with the dashboard and some platics. (as I read in some magazines)
- E46 seemed to be better built with a more luxurious atmosphere.
- E90 lost the slightly curved dashboard towards the driver which has always been a BMW trademark.
- Feel of buttoms in general felt better in the E46.
- Dashboard felt better in terms of design than E90 even though the second hump in the middle with the screen (for those who got it) looks better.
- E46 had no noises inside at all considering it was a 99' model.
- E90 has a noise coming from the sunroof when closed.
- E90 has a noise coming from the plastic that covers the back window tail light. After a couple of "hits" still not good.
- One day driving off a car park I came off a kerb and the plastic that covers the rain sensor above the mirror fell on the dashboard. I could not believe it! This is on the E90.
- I can't believe that BMW has given the chance to choose between a cheap and an expensive Nav system. With the price of the car and the clients BMW deals with, I think they should all come with the map view of where you go. All cheaper car manufacturers do!!. I made a comment about this on this site recently. Again, this was a demonstrator vehicle and I had not much option. In Australia there are not too many cars with the Prof. Nav. System.
- The aluminium trim on the passengers side dashboard was loose. After taking it to BMW they fixed it but they stained the brushed finish with God knows what, and the left five greasy finger tips on the windscreen pillar. (which I had to clean).
I don't know what you guys think in general but the service in Australia for BMWs is crap. You get ripped off and the service is sh….!
- There is another noisy that comes from the dashboard that I can't detect where is it from.

EXTERIOR
- From the outside I reckon E90 looks more contemporary and better than the E46. The tail lights look better than the E46 (which were to my taste a little bit japanese styled). With the E90 tail lights I think they managed to get a very good balance between the E36 (beautiful to me and very BMW) and a new contemporary redesign.
- Exterior design in general is lovely to me. Very well proportioned.
- Ride is lighter in E90. Car feels lighter than E46. Even with the 2.5 litre engine the E46 was a bit heavy for city traffic. E90 feels great! Both feel great in freeway.
- Ride is better in E46. And I think this is got to do that my demonstrator car came with sport suspension. Not a real fair comment to make here. But I did prefer the ride of my E46.

I would like to hear your comments fellows!!!

- My final conclusion is that BMW got a much better looking car from the outside, even though I love the way the E46 is ageing. That has always been good with the Bavarian house.
- The interior's seats, and side door panels look more contemporary and nicer than the E46 but the dashboard is a little bit dull compared with E46. Lost the BMW character.
Quality in the E90's interior is lower than E46.
Ride of E90 is better than E46.
In general the E90 is a better car, but I think they should have kept more of the E46's characteristics.
Maybe I should sell my E90 and get another E46!
Cheers guys and gals!
 

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Interesting observations. I love my e46 but the exterior style of the e90 and particularly the new 3 coupe are growing on me, very contemporary....and much better than the Banglized 5 and 7. They pretty much got it right with the new 3 series exterior. I also like the power available in the new 335. But there are 2 things that I just don't think will compare to the e46....the interior on the e46 is much better, a true driver's cockpit. Have you seen the dashboard cupholders on the e90? And the suspension and handling on my e46 with the ZHP option seem almost impossible to improve upon. The best thing about the e46 ZHP is the suspension IMHO. I think the e90, just like the e46, will evolve over the years, get facelifted and receive new features and options that will make it the hallmark of the BMW lineup. But at this point, I guess I'm just underwhelmed so far with the e90....it just seems that BMW caved in a little too much to market forces and Japanese competition when designing the car, particularly the interior.
 

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I own a 2006 330ci ZHP and drove a loaner 2006 325i for 4 days.

- I agree with you about the lighter feel of the E90. It felt not quite as heavy even though the proportions are bigger (being a sedan). I liked this.

- For the exterior, I like the sides of the E90s better than the E46s but like the front and back of the E46 better. The straight side lines of the E46 looks great from some angles where they start curving but from most angles they look a little bland.

- For the interior, the E46 feels more solid and higher quality. In fact, everything I touch in the E46 feels solid. Also, I personally don't like flimsy cupholders (like the ones in the E90). Saab has REALLY flimsy cupholders.

- The "335i being flogged" youtube video has a brief shot of the auto arms that bring the seat belts closer to the drive. THESE LOOKED SO FLIMSY. I couldn't believe it. The demo guy in the video barely brushed up against them and they fluttered around cheaply. Why didn't they edit that out and do another shot?

- I got used to the "always return to center detent" turn signal stalks of the E90. I hated them at first but now I kind of miss them.

The E90 feels like it's keeping up with the style of modern cars which is cool, but I don't really care. I'd rather have the one of the last, most well tested and refined iterations of a generation of cars (which is why I didn't wait for the 335i)
 

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Last week I had my E46 parked right next to a E90, both same color, at the wine shop.
As I came out and saw both rear ends I couldn't believe the huge difference between the two cars.

a. The way the bumpers have been integrated into the body of the E90 is masterful. So smooth, almost makes the bumpers invisible to the eye in comparison to the E46.

b. It's unfortunate that the E90 design from the rear makes the car look so much narrower than the E46. I think it's the way the tailights are setup against the trunk opening, it's not one continous line, and that makes it look narrow and a little unatractive to my eyes.

I agree with all of the interior observations by our Autralian friend on the E46, I love the way it looks and feel. As for the E90 without the second hump, well, it reminds me of a GM product of the sixties, with the exception of the hump for the instrument binacle.

I live two miles from a BMW dealer and I see E90 on a daily basis. If it wasn't for the shark fin, in traffic I would be hard press to tell this is a BMW product. With the E46, no matter from what angle I see them in traffic, I know at once it's a BMW.

On a 24 hr test we found the E90 to have a better, quiter ride. The steering was much easier but did not feel quite as precise as the E90. The sound of the engine, from the moment you turn it on, the E46 sounds much more satisfying with a special low noise powerful growl. The E46 to me feels like a motorcycle with four wheels. The E90 feels more like a modern auto should feel, much like the new MB C350.

As much as I like the E46. we are moving into a E90 soon. Just wish I could keep the E46.
 

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csciguy8 said:
I own a 2006 330ci ZHP and drove a loaner 2006 325i for 4 days.

- I agree with you about the lighter feel of the E90. It felt not quite as heavy even though the proportions are bigger (being a sedan). I liked this.
:confused: The e90 is a heavy beast. The e90 330i is over 140 lbs heavier than an e46 330i. That's a big difference and one I feel every time I drive my e90.

- I got used to the "always return to center detent" turn signal stalks of the E90. I hated them at first but now I kind of miss them.
Shrug, I still hate them.

Unfortunately, the e90's slower, less responsive, taller, quieter (yuck), no engine noise (double yuck), long shifter throws, bigger and the ergonomics are all wrong. The window buttons are in the wrong place, the stereo/HVAC is setup wrong and I can't get used to giant interior. All around BMW screwed up, imho. I'd take my e46 ZHP back at the same lease rate and warranty level in a heartbeat.
 

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I do agree that E46's interior is better than E90's... E90's feel like cheap plastic. However the panels in E46 is a bit dated, although it didn't get improved much in E90 either.

I also agree that E90's exterior got modern contemporary style... the bold lines are not for everyone, but I love it. I think E46 sedans would look better if the ride is as low as the coupe. (A sidenote... I think Ford confused "bold" with "ugly". For those not living in US, they have a series of ads that says "Bold Moves")

The rear could do a bit better... I don't understand why the Japanese and German car makers have to "blend-in" with the US makers by making left/right signal in red (not sure if that's the case in Europe, Asia or Aus). I'm never a fan of red turning signals... especially for those cars with brake lights and turning signals all in one - it's darn right confusing.

Can't comment on E90's interior built quality, but I don't think it's any better or worse than E46's... I'm sure the cosmetic issues and inconveniences will surface next year as the first batch of E90 ages.

To me, the E90 does feel more lively than E46's. It's been discussed before in other threads... it heavily depends on a driver's taste. Some may feel E46 is more "driver involved" and think E90 has taken away the "fun" and the "sweet engine noise", while others think otherwise.
 

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I'm constantly comparing the E46 and E90 in the big picture sense. I've had this idea stuck in my head that I have to change out my car by next summer, because my E46 is a little over two years short of the 100,000 mile mark and I don't want to deal with the rash of repairs/replacements/potential failures that will occur when certain parts begin to reach that age. Cost is obviously not an issue - it would cost tens of thousands to move into an E90 (or even a slightly used E46 330i w/ZHP), whereas a new cooling system for my E46 is $1000 at most, especially if I do all the work myself.

I just like having a new, reliable car as a daily driver. I estimate that the E46 has one year of completely worry free use left. That's when I expect to start losing things like water pumps.

The thing is, though, I'm not in love with the E90 - at all - and I was enamored with my E46 from even before I purchased it. I still am, to an extent. I love how it drives - I have the older style, E36-like steering, the stiff electro-mechanical throttle, and an aftermarket E34 M5 clutch...everything is heavy, tight, and responsive. There's never any delay on the throttle, the steering is sharp and takes a bit of muscle to work with at low speeds. I like that: makes it feel like something of a driver's car. I prefer the E46 interior, and the smaller exterior size and curb weight - I wouldn't find any use for the extra space in the E90. I also like having a true full sized spare and conventional performance tires in place of the expensive runflats.

I sat down a couple nights ago and asked myself: what's the real incentive to buy an E90? I can still get the E46 style in a much newer car, with more power and a better suspension (though I'll lose a bit of the driving feel in the process). I can also get a slightly used M3 for what it would cost for a new 335i. Both alternatives would ease my reliability concerns. What does the E90/E92 offer over any of these cars besides more contemporary styling? I already know it doesn't drive as well, and I already know it's irritatingly heavy. I already know it has the blasted drive-by-wire throttle. The styling does nothing for me. At the end of the day, it comes with a fresh warranty, more power, and a slightly better suspension - all for an additional $25,000-30,000. And that's the end of it. That sort of money would pay for a new suspension, a supercharger unit for my E46, and all necessary repairs for five years to come - TWICE OVER! Really makes you think, doesn't it?
 
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