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Discussion Starter #1
I have a budget of £5-6k and want to buy a second hand convertible. I have 2 kids (7 and 3 years old) and my commute is 18 miles each way.

I want a car that's reliable, fun to drive, with decent economy.. and love BMWs.

So far I've been considering 3 series (probably petrol, 2l) from around 2007-09 ... but getting a lower mileage car is hard with that budget. How do the petrol engines fare at the higher mileages?

And then, the 1 series popped into my head. Is it worth a look? ... should be able to get a slightly younger model, but not sure about cabin space for the 4 of us (my being 6'4" makes space behind driver's seat limited, right?).

It doesn't have to be luggage-practical; the wife has an Octavia for big family trips. But I do need to be able to do the school run with 2 little 'uns in the back.


So if it was you, would you go for the 1 series or the 3 series? Or would you choose something different all together?

Thanks for any help
Sam
 

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3 Series all the way. This is just personal to me, and many will disagree, but when I see a 1 series, I feel they may as well just have bought a Vauxhall Astra 2 litre. Unless you go for a M135/140i, It's a badge man's car.

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I think they’re quite different cars. 1 series is soft top, 3 is a folding hard top and will no doubt be a lot heavier. For fun factor you could get a 125i for that money which gives you the older N52 6 pot engine. Depends what matters most.

Given your height and the need for rear seat space a 3 series does seem more sensible.

Or to add another into the mix, how about the 6 series?
 

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3-Series: + More spacious, more comfy, more refined (folding hard top helps). - Heavier, slower, hard top robs boot space when folded.
1-Series: + Lighter, quicker, probably more fun to drive. - Not much room in the back, less cosy especially during winter.

Mechanically they are pretty similar, engine range is shared and its basically the same chassis just chopped down for the 1s. Would expect reliability to be similar. Petrol 2.0 is probably a safer bet than the 2.0 diesel for long term reliability, and also better suited to short journeys - no DPF and EGR clogging issues to worry about. That said it won't feel very sporty, especially in the heavy 3-Series cab.
If enjoyable performance matters I would look at a 125i/325i as it will feel noticeably more rapid, sound nicer (especially with the top down) and the MPG penalty over the 4-pot isn't huge. You'd probably average around 32mpg in a 325i as apposed to 39mpg in a 320i, and the performance advantage would be noticeable every time you drive it. Also the 6s tend to be more robust than the 4s.

I think really you need to take a good long look at both in the flesh, drive both and decide based on that. As only you know what balance of fun/economy/practicality is right for you.
One thing I would say is that you might find the kids start to outgrow the 1-Series pretty quickly, as space in the back is limited. So how long you plan to keep is another factor to consider.
Have a look at several if possible as this will provide a basis for comparison and make it easier to spot issues.

Overall I'd say the 3 is the better car especially for family use. However it is heavy and therefor best sampled with 6-cylinder engines.
BMWs are built to be driven so don't be overly concerned about mileage. History and condition are what matters. You would be much better off getting a high milage car that has been cherished and has stacks of service history than a low mileage car thats had minimal maintenance.
A look at the MOT history (can be viewed online) can give a picture of what sort of life a car has lead and also give warning of possible future bills. Getting an AA inspection done before you buy is money well spent if you're not sure what to look for, as is a history check to make sure you're not unwittingly buying a crashed/repaired/stolen/financed motor.
Best of luck!
 

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BMW series 1 or 3, its taste question. But, if You get high mileage BMW, I sugest to find diesel M47 engine, no later N47. M47 havent DPF, little problems with EGR and no prob. with chain.
M47s were installed to mid-2006.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
If enjoyable performance matters I would look at a 125i/325i as it will feel noticeably more rapid, sound nicer (especially with the top down) and the MPG penalty over the 4-pot isn't huge. You'd probably average around 32mpg in a 325i as apposed to 39mpg in a 320i, and the performance advantage would be noticeable every time you drive it. Also the 6s tend to be more robust than the 4s.
It's funny... I'd just started thinking about the 325. When you put it like that (39mpg vs 32 mpg) and take into consideration why I'm buying the car (for the driving fun as much as anything) then the argument becomes more compelling for the 325.

I think really you need to take a good long look at both in the flesh, drive both and decide based on that. As only you know what balance of fun/economy/practicality is right for you.
One thing I would say is that you might find the kids start to outgrow the 1-Series pretty quickly, as space in the back is limited. So how long you plan to keep is another factor to consider.
Have a look at several if possible as this will provide a basis for comparison and make it easier to spot issues.
I must remind myself of this ...very easy to get all excited about a shiny new car and buy too hastily. Just walked around a colleague's 325 in the car park and seeing it in the flesh just reinforced my preference towards the 3 series.

BMWs are built to be driven so don't be overly concerned about mileage. History and condition are what matters. You would be much better off getting a high milage car that has been cherished and has stacks of service history than a low mileage car thats had minimal maintenance.
A look at the MOT history (can be viewed online) can give a picture of what sort of life a car has lead and also give warning of possible future bills. Getting an AA inspection done before you buy is money well spent if you're not sure what to look for, as is a history check to make sure you're not unwittingly buying a crashed/repaired/stolen/financed motor.
Best of luck!
Was steering towards the lower mileage, FSH examples as I'm not so good at spotting condition errors, so as you said ...look at a few.

Gah! ... all this sensible advice ... and I just want to go out there and buy one :thumbsup
 

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i think you answered your own question! 3 series is far more practical considering that kids growing up fast.so in 2 years if you buy the 1 series is more fun and soft top, more style, more vintage but not practical for your kids who will be bigger and need more room.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
i think you answered your own question! 3 series is far more practical considering that kids growing up fast.so in 2 years if you buy the 1 series is more fun and soft top, more style, more vintage but not practical for your kids who will be bigger and need more room.
Yep - decision very much made. Just need to find the best one possible now. So little coming onto the market in the last week. Have only seen cars disappear from my searches.
 

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Yep - decision very much made. Just need to find the best one possible now. So little coming onto the market in the last week. Have only seen cars disappear from my searches.
If you can hang on a couple more months then do!
Unlike regular cars, convertibles are notoriously hard to shift during winter and sellers will be much more likely to drop the price to attract interest.
January/February is an especially good time to buy because so many people are broke from Christmas overspend, so business in general is pretty quiet and dealers should be willing to bargain hard to secure a sale.
That also gives you a good amount of time to get a good look at several cars and find out about common faults etc.
 

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I’d agree with that.

A few years ago I bought an mr2 roadster on New Year’s Eve for a bargain price. Ran it for over a year then sold it in April for £500 more than I paid for it.
 

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Discussion Starter #14
Thanks for all the input. I'm now the happy owner of a 2008 330d convertible.

I test drove a 320 but it left me a bit 'meh' ... so committed to the performance end of the engine range and absolutely loving it. The sound of the engine, the feeling as you accelerate, the chuckling of my little boys in the back. All worth it.

Now to look after it and keep it happy. Have found a BMW specialist garage local to me. Have started looking through the 172 page user manual. Any tips? ... gottchas? things I should look out for?

Thanks again,
Sam
 

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As its a diesel, make sure you take it out on a proper (i.e 1 hour minimum) run regularly as doing only short runs will clog up the DPF.
Also, have the oil changed every year as a routine, don't wait for the service indicator to remind you! Modern turbo diesels operate at very high pressures and temperatures and deteriorate the oil pretty quickly.
I'm not sure if your car has the swirl flaps fitted or not, I believe it was around 2007/8 that BMW began to phase them out.
See http://bmwspecialistreading.co.uk/what-are-swirl-flaps/ for a quick illustration of the problem.
I would find out if your car has them ASAP. If so, plan to get the swirl flap delete done at the soonest convenience as they can fail even at low milage and are one of the few major reliability flaws of the M57 engine, which is otherwise a very strong unit.
 
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