WHY A 3 SERIES?
It’s arguably one of the best executive sedans in the world and the E90 was quite a success story. Best known for its superior dynamics and fun-to-drive factor, the 3 Series is reasonably comfortable, looks the part and has good build quality too. Everything with the car is driver focussed; whether it’s the central console, the response of the steering, or the sharp handling. It’s also thanks to its rear-wheel drive setup that makes the car more adjustable at the limit.
When it was first launched in India in 2007, it was offered with three engine options; the four-cylinder 320d diesel and 320i petrol and the cracker of a straight-six, the 325i petrol. Later, in 2008, one could opt for the mad M3 in both coupé and cabriolet form. Over time, the car went through several updates and by the end of its life, just the 320d and the 325i were replaced with the 330i straight-six with even more power on offer. BMW did offer a 330d convertible, a car that continues to be offered to this day as a CBU.
WHICH VERSION SHOULD I GO FOR?
The E90 3 Series went through a whole series of updates over the years. In 2008, the first set of changes included softer suspension settings and other smaller changes. In 2009, the 320d got further trims, including the ultra-successful 320d Corporate Edition that had fewer features, such as a missing i-Drive and some smaller bits, but it didn’t feel poorer by any stretch of the imagination. Softer suspension setups continued as customers demanded them, driven largely by the use of run-flat tyres as standard.
If you are looking at a 3 Series, the 320d fits the bill perfectly. It has a nice combination of pace and economy, with practicality thrown in. You will find them more easily too, though they tend to be a bit more expensive in the used-car market than their petrol counterparts. If you really must have a straight-six petrol, the 330i is the one to go for. The no-holds barred 330i is a more appealing car to drive and though a handful of those were sold, they will become much sought after cars in the years to come.
HOW MUCH SHOULD I PAY FOR ONE?
With the passage of time, the 3 Series has found its way into the market and it isn’t difficult to spot one. Those maintained by corporate houses tend to be the most cared for and would be a smart pick, though it isn’t tough to find clean examples of these cars. If you pick up a 2007 or 2008 320d, they can be had for Rs 13 to 17 lakh, depending on mileage and condition. The 320i is even cheaper; a car of similar vintage changes hands for as low as Rs 11 lakh to 14 lakh. Some 325i examples that we saw didn’t sell for much more than a 320i, going for Rs 15-16 lakh for 2007-08 versions. Newer 3 Series specimens tend to be available for Rs 17 lakh to 24 lakh. Typically, individuals would offer cars for a few lakh less than used-car dealers and those sold under the BMW Approved programme.
What to look out for
The E90 3 Series is typically robust, so there isn't much to find fault with. Most customers shifted from runflat tyres to standard tubeless fare to improve ride quality, so it's necessary to check if the rims are in fine condition. There were problems with some cars, especially the diesels with their turbo actuators, which can be rectified. It's good to find cars which had BMW's service packs that are still valid since they get transferred to the next owner. Do look out for sounds from the suspension since any work would be rather expensive to get fixed.