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I just returned a couple days ago from a 3 week trip with my family, and I missed the 325 so I thought I'd start 2021 off with some observations. We rented a couple new cars and I also rent cars as part of my occupation when I travel. Over the 9 months since I bought this pampered, cherry low mile I've probably rented another half dozen and I rent nicer midsize sedans like the 2021 Camry on this trip, vs the tin can bottom priced rentals.

Over the 9 months I have been surprised how well my 18 year old E46 compares to these new sedans in vehicle dynamics, quality of things like dash switches, noise level, illumination, seat comfort, etc. Frankly I'm surprised that 18 years does not seem to have improved things.

During our vacation I probably turned to my wife a half dozen times and said "man, the BMW would never have done that". The Camry was constantly making poor tranny shifts, on a causeway we used frequently it has grooved pavement and the car literally wobbled side to side such that our son from the back seat asked "what's that?" and I explained how tramlining works on grooves. The doors were tinny and too light for the hinge detents such that closing the door you either had to slam them or reopen and shut the partially closed door. Rattles. Wind noise. Road roar. Seats were a flaccid joke. Bouncy unrefined ride. More subtle things like steering feedback had both my wife and I making corrections on curves that all passengers could notice and we commented (Mrs IdahoDoug is also a driver).

Another couple met us for a week and they rented a 2021 Nissan midsize sedan. Pitiful tin can. One evening it randomly applied its own brakes while we were driving to dinner with no other vehicle in sight on a flat smooth 25mph road. The four of us looked at each other, shrugged, and continued on to dinner.

The E46 is my daily driver and through these comparisons to other midsize sedans despite the advantages of 18 year newer technology and advances in materials, structural analysis and lessons learned from prior development efforts, I continue to be impressed with the car. Just thought I'd pass that along as I'm somewhat amused that I couldn't wait to get back to driving it.
 

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E30M3 Race F10 535 R1150Rt M Coupe
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There's a heck of a lot more than that.
You're not comparing apples to apples.
Needed to rent a F30 3er. Amazing what they've done. One also needs to slap on a nice hard set of runflats and see what that adds into the NVH equation. Amazing what they've done....

Don't get me wrong, I'll take the cars I drive and not the other way around. However some of the things they're accomplished are amazing.

One of my clients has an amazing garage full of Ferraris, McLaren, Audi R8 V10 etc. etc. That we take care of.
If he ever were to have me pick a car for myself (he won't) I'd have to pick the one bereft of all the driving aids, save one....ABS.
His 2006 Ford GT. A true drivers car. Understeers just like a BMW, oversteers and tank slaps just like a BMW.
I can enlarge or reduce the arch of a fast exit ramp as much with my right foot as the steering wheel.

Thanks for your thoughts
 

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2002 325xi, standard options
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I recently drove a loaner g20 when I took my 18 year old e46 in to the dealer for the airbag recall service. That is one very nice car, especially with the 8 speed zf transmission that seems to instantly switch to the right gear. The Tesla and self driving also seem like a major technological advancement (I hear it can navigate highway interchanges).
 

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Haven't personally driven a F30 bur ridden in one and wasn't all that impressed. Drove a loaner G20 and while deceivingly fast i couldn't wait to get back in my E46.

My mom has a '16 Rogue and holy heck, hard to get less enjoyable to drive than that.
 

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Right, I meant to add that I still decided to keep my e46 even though leases on a new F30 are dirt cheap.
 

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I had an e46 330ci that I purchased at the age of 21 or so. Sold it at the age of 27. It left such a big impression on me that I ended up coming back to an e46 but an m3 this time. I feel you OP.
 

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Right, I meant to add that I still decided to keep my e46 even though leases on a new F30 are dirt cheap.
The F30s look better than E90s and G20s, and you can get some pretty nicely decked out. The zhp version on the F30 looks pretty nice with the carbon fiber pieces and gives it a nice aggressive look.
 

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Personally the F80 feels much nicer
 

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Yea the F80 is definitely nicer than the atrocity they just released, but it's an M, so whole different price point.
 

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The G80 isn't really all that bad, everyone just needs to stop freaking out. BMW truly doesn't care, they released E46 cooling systems, window regulators and poor subframe mounting points. As long as they're making money (which they will) they don't care about small complaints.

Besides a used F80 is fairly attainable (coming from me as a college student, I wouldn't hesitate if I needed a car).
 

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There's a heck of a lot more than that.
You're not comparing apples to apples.
Needed to rent a F30 3er. Amazing what they've done. One also needs to slap on a nice hard set of runflats and see what that adds into the NVH equation. Amazing what they've done....

Don't get me wrong, I'll take the cars I drive and not the other way around. However some of the things they're accomplished are amazing.

One of my clients has an amazing garage full of Ferraris, McLaren, Audi R8 V10 etc. etc. That we take care of.
If he ever were to have me pick a car for myself (he won't) I'd have to pick the one bereft of all the driving aids, save one....ABS.
His 2006 Ford GT. A true drivers car. Understeers just like a BMW, oversteers and tank slaps just like a BMW.
I can enlarge or reduce the arch of a fast exit ramp as much with my right foot as the steering wheel.

Thanks for your thoughts
I’ve had 5 BMWs and to me they all seemed fairly neutral at the limits. I had a WRX and felt that that would understeer a lot if I was applying too much power.
 

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Keep in mind that the BMW is a more expensive car than what you’re comparing it to so the engineers can do more.
 

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It could be a long while before camrys can do this... until then I will enjoy my e46 for all it’s worth 😋
 

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I had an e46 330ci that I purchased at the age of 21 or so. Sold it at the age of 27. It left such a big impression on me that I ended up coming back to an e46 but an m3 this time. I feel you OP.
I had the same experience: had a E46 330i with auto trans that was so nice it got me to wondering what an M3 would be like. After I lost the 330i in a divorce I ended up buying an E46 M3 with manual trans and I love it. Best car I ever drove and it still pleases every time I drive it. It just does everything really well.
 

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My 2004 325 iT Sport Wagon was $42k in 2004. That's $57k in today's dollars. That's probably at least 2 Camry's today.
 

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I just returned a couple days ago from a 3 week trip with my family, and I missed the 325 so I thought I'd start 2021 off with some observations. We rented a couple new cars and I also rent cars as part of my occupation when I travel. Over the 9 months since I bought this pampered, cherry low mile I've probably rented another half dozen and I rent nicer midsize sedans like the 2021 Camry on this trip, vs the tin can bottom priced rentals.

Over the 9 months I have been surprised how well my 18 year old E46 compares to these new sedans in vehicle dynamics, quality of things like dash switches, noise level, illumination, seat comfort, etc. Frankly I'm surprised that 18 years does not seem to have improved things.

During our vacation I probably turned to my wife a half dozen times and said "man, the BMW would never have done that". The Camry was constantly making poor tranny shifts, on a causeway we used frequently it has grooved pavement and the car literally wobbled side to side such that our son from the back seat asked "what's that?" and I explained how tramlining works on grooves. The doors were tinny and too light for the hinge detents such that closing the door you either had to slam them or reopen and shut the partially closed door. Rattles. Wind noise. Road roar. Seats were a flaccid joke. Bouncy unrefined ride. More subtle things like steering feedback had both my wife and I making corrections on curves that all passengers could notice and we commented (Mrs IdahoDoug is also a driver).

Another couple met us for a week and they rented a 2021 Nissan midsize sedan. Pitiful tin can. One evening it randomly applied its own brakes while we were driving to dinner with no other vehicle in sight on a flat smooth 25mph road. The four of us looked at each other, shrugged, and continued on to dinner.

The E46 is my daily driver and through these comparisons to other midsize sedans despite the advantages of 18 year newer technology and advances in materials, structural analysis and lessons learned from prior development efforts, I continue to be impressed with the car. Just thought I'd pass that along as I'm somewhat amused that I couldn't wait to get back to driving it.
I bought last year a 2001 a E325Ci with 232K, at an auction with a little damage in the rear bumper. Fixed, changed the water pump and the temperature sensor and the fuel filter and that's all. Drove from South Texas to North Central Florida, 1200k miles and still driving with no problems. The car was sold originally by the West Palm Beach dealer that years later bought the car back to sell in their used car program. The car is awesome. Not as pristine probably as yours but I have pleasure driving the car that with so many miles and no maintenance history, still drives great. But I believe that the first owner did maintenance at the dealer and that's what makes a difference. So you are right, almost all the Asian cars , the newer ones, are not as well made as the BMW. Enough said.
 

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I had the same experience: had a E46 330i with auto trans that was so nice it got me to wondering what an M3 would be like. After I lost the 330i in a divorce I ended up buying an E46 M3 with manual trans and I love it. Best car I ever drove and it still pleases every time I drive it. It just does everything really well.
Sometimes I wish I would have gotten into a ZHP since they are cheaper, more rare, more daily friendly, and the exhaust note sounds way better. I drive the M3 and it's so fast and tight so I'm happy as can be but I still wonder. I know if I had ended up in a ZHP I would wonder about the M3
 

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Sometimes I wish I would have gotten into a ZHP since they are cheaper, more rare, more daily friendly, and the exhaust note sounds way better. I drive the M3 and it's so fast and tight so I'm happy as can be but I still wonder. I know if I had ended up in a ZHP I would wonder about the M3
I have only driven a E46 M3 once and it was before i bought my ZHP but i really enjoyed the way it drove. As time passes cars get so powerful that it almost makes it less fun to drive (unless you track it) because you barely touch it and you're already at the speed limit of whatever road/highway you're on. The old "more fun to drive a slow car fast than a fast car slow" i guess. The E46 M3 seems to have that great balance of having power but not too much.
 
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