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Hi, joined here to do some research and ask a few questions.
I currently own a Vauxhall Astra G which is woefully slow, boring to drive and is starting to show its age.
I've considered a lot of cars but over on PH forums they all seems to suggest a 3 series BMW for the power and fun to drive and supposedly reliability.
Well my budget is somewhat low, so can i get a good E46 with this budget? And if so, which model is best for a balance of power and economy. As i only cover about 10k a year i suppose i should be going for a petrol correct?
There are so many different models and trim levels im really not sure which to go for. Or at this budget will they all be wrecks and money pits in the future? Thanks
 

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Most e46's at any budget are money pits. But you can find good ones the key is to only entertain well maintained cars with plenty of evidence of work. Assess the car and the seller closely and you will find a good one. As for the best model all round its the 330 but it will cost to fuel with that mileage; avoid 4 cylinder petrols. For example I have an excellent 330 that's probably only worth 1.5k so you could buy a car like that and put the money saved towards fuel. But don't be in a hurry and be willing to have your time wasted by deluded/ignorant sellers who claim their car is a good one when in reality it is not.
 

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Hi and welcome. I have only owned a couple of three series as tend to have fives and currently have a 635d which is by far the best car I have ever had. The E46 is a cracking car to drive and good value at present. Your budget will get you a good car and as you have said a petrol would be best with the mileage you are doing. I would always go for a six cylinder engine as they are so much nicer to drive in my experience. I would buy on condition rather than mileage and take your time as there are loads about so you can afford to be picky. The coupes always look good and have aged really well. They are easy to work on but do suffer a bit with rust on the arches so like I said be picky and get one from an enthusiast. Then just enjoy.
Cheers
Jim
 

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Yes, you'll easily get one under £3k. I paid £2.5k for my 330i mid last year. It's 2004 facelift saloon, 3.0 straight 6 engine which is awesome. Just over 100k miles, pretty good condition. Not the best history but it seemed pretty sound overall.

Since then its needed a couple of thing that needed replacement like exhaust and a tensioner but they weren't costly to sort out. I looked at about 3 before I bought mine.

I'd definitely go for a petrol, either the 325 or 330, but the 330 is just that bit better - I'd say its worth waiting out til a good one comes along and snap it up!
 

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Look for a 6 cylinder car (320, 325, 330) which has receipts in the last few years for the following, and you shouldn't go too far wrong:

- Cooling refresh (new thermostat, radiator, expansion tank, hoses)
- New rear trailing arm bushes
- New front control arm bushes
- CCV valve replacement

If the car has matching tyres from a decent brand all round, this is a a good sign of someone who does not skimp on their car. At any sign of neglect you should walk away. The engines go on forever, so buy on condition and history rather than mileage. My car (325) has 140k miles, and just sailed through its MOT with no advisories.

If you don't need four doors, then take a look at the 325ti compact model. They look a little weird, but they have sharper handling and sound better than the bigger cars, go faster than anything less than a 330Ci, and don't seem to have the same problems with rust :)
 

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There are still plenty of E46s around, many in your price range. Both the manuals and autos are good, so if you're not set on one or the other it will widen your net.

I'd suggest you only look at 6 cylinder petrols, they're more reliable for one, and the 330i really is a lot of car for not much money. I do 8000 miles a year in a 330i auto and the fuel bill's not bad at all.

In your price range there will be a bit of a spread in terms of condition, so I'd suggest keeping an eye out for a while and choosing one that suits. Buying one for £1250 and spending £750 on it will often get you a better car than buying one for £2k, but on the other hand you could find a good honest example for £2500 that really needs nothing done.

As ed80 says the 325ti is worth a look if that's more your style, but they're getting harder to find.

A couple of things to consider: if you're handy with spanners it will really cut down on the maintenance costs that you will run into, and tax and insurance are going to be an unavoidable annual cost.
 

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I just bought a 2003 325i sports individual in Estoril blue with 84000 miles and a full service history in very good condition for £3500. a bit over priced i think but it has had a few quid spent on it before i got it and still needs a few bits here and their ??? still a great car though and i just love the engine ;)
 
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