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Discussion Starter #1
Hi everyone, I am new to the forum and would like to introduce myself and seek your wisdom.

I'm trying to get a car, my first since moving to the UK. I've been a car person for too long and after graduating and getting a decent job, getting a car is the next thing. Now ideally, I'd like to be in an m4 within 5 years (sort of a life goal really), but I recently realised that a. although I don't need a car for commuting, I want one very much and b. if I'm ever getting an m4, I should rack up some ncd to avoid having to sell both kidneys to cover the insurance bill, which is why I am considering a gti, since insurance on it is passable and running costs are not too prohibitive, the car is fine to drive etc, practical and a mk6 can be had for under £9K

I'm aiming to save up and buy the car within the next year or so, with some money put aside for insurance, road tax and a healthy amount in case anything goes wrong, needless to say that as the cheapest I can get it the better, since it will effectively mean I can buy it earlier.

A bit about me, I always adored the 3 series coupes, I've wanted an e46 since well before I could even drive one and my first car was a beautiful e36 325is, which I loved (still do) to bits and the moment I crashed it almost 5 years ago is still etched in my memory (largely because of the smile I had on my face while doing it).
I am very particular about what I want in a car, manual, rear drive, hydraulic wheel, 50/50 weight distribution, 6 cylinder n/a engine (anyone see what it is yet?)

So getting the 325i would be somewhat poetic, but I am concerned with power or lack thereof.

On the other hand, the 335i has a turbo on it, which although means better power, makes the purist inside me uncomfortable. The 330i seems like a good in between, but, I have to be able to get a decent manual one for a decent price and the market seems a bit dry atm.

As I said, the car is not meant to be a daily driver, I expect to use it on weekends (nice 5 am Sunday morning dives in the highlands) or for longer trips and the occasional trip to the supermarket to keep the battery from going flat, of course that could theoretically change in 6 months time but I'll cross that bridge if I get to it, but I'd still like to have creature comforts which is why I'm not looking at an e46 or e36 (that and the massive insurance and service bill).

Any discussion is welcome, cars is possibly the only thing I can't shut up about, as well as general tips about buying used cars in the UK, vehicle checks, known issues with the e92 etc.
 

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Put aside the power of all the cars, the Golf GTI is a FWD hatch.. it drives different than a BMW RWD with near perfect 50/50 weight distribution.

If you looking for weekend pleasure go for a 335i as it has tuning potential to 400BHP. At that price you looking at the twin turbo N54 engine.
You may want to google N54 maintenance issues specially around 10 year old 2x turbo.

In comparison to the 335i the NA 325i maintenance is a walk in the park.
 

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Do your homework. Many later BMWs have electric steering rather than your preferred hydraulic...
 

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stay safe and get a golf,,not bad cars and tunable,,you wont have much money owning a 335i and insurance will be high
 

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I looked at a mk6 gti before buying my e92 325i, in fact it was the same day!

The golf is nice, I’ve always liked them. However, it just felt like an everyday family car and there was just nothing particularly special about it. Very expensive for what you get too. I went straight home from viewing the golf and on the way spotted the e92 on a forecourt. It looked nice and the price was in my ball park so I called in for a look, not expecting to buy it at all, in fact I’d not even considered them up to then. I took it out for a drive and about half an hour later had done the deal. It’s the sound of that engine, the feel of the driving controls, the quality, the handling balance. I loved it.

Unfortunately I can’t give you a comparison to the golf because I wasn’t inspired enough by it to take a drive. Possibly a mistake, I’ll never know.

The power comes down to personal preference. I find the 325i plenty quick enough. 60 in under 7 seconds and being NA you can give it the beans right through to the red line. How fast do you want to go? I think a 335i would be licence threatening for me, or worse I’d end up in a hedge!

Looking back, I probably paid a bit too much. And I have since been hit by the dreaded injector problem which you should research if you are considering a 325i or 330i. But you know what, I don’t care, it’s a great car. Look for a 330i m sport with manual gearbox and I think you’ll find they either don’t exist or the prices are way higher than a 325i.

Go and have a drive in all of them. I’d be interested to know how you feel about the golf.
 

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335i n55 what an engine in the e92,sounds good and goes like stink. Crap on fuel and expensive to insure but a cracking car to drive especially with the 7 speed auto box.

I certainly wouldn’t go with a golf,go with the e92. engine wise best to have a drive of them all and get some insurance quotes then make a decision.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Thank you all for your repsonses. I haven't driven a GTI before, the only hot hatchback I have driven is a mate's Vauxhall Corsa VXR, (I've also driven Sciroccos, Focuses, Golfs etc. but just the regular or mid-market models) which was modified to somewhere around 220hp and had other stuff too, and I have to say I was really unimpressed. The truth is there's a reason why I want what I want, and that is because there's nothing else that feels like it.
@CHRIS H2, its not about going fast in absolute terms, i.e. 0-60 in x seconds or x miles an hour (the limit is 70 afterall, everything is limited to 155mph and honestly, its not just about how much the speedo gets to). Its more about the ability that power provides, in realistic terms, you can overtake that caravan quicker and thus more safely, in "fun" terms, its bout how you can use the power while cornering etc. I have looked at the figures and have driven a number of 2.0-2.5 litre petrol engines, and they have flaws, most suffer from low torque figures, and the delivery simply takes too long. In fact, nowdays, I wouldn't recommend anyone going for a heavier car i.e. not a smaller hatchback, with an engine under 2.5 not to go for a diesel, simply because the torque figures are great and its a difference you can really feel.
@vexorg The mk5 has well known engine flaws, I also don't like the design of the mk5 and the interior and equipment isn't great either. I also always preferred the GTI to the R for a number of reasons.
@rasa golf Insurance on a 2010 GTI would be about £900, Vs about £1200 for an e92 330i, because I haven't owned a car in the past 5 years while being in the UK. Its a significant difference, but it would drop substantially after the first year for both, its not something I haven't considered. The golf is tunable yes, but I wouldn't do anything more than a remap and maybe a pedal box or upgraded brakes and disks, simply because its not worth the hustle. The 330i would probably save me the remap and pedal box since they are notorious for gaining no power whatsoever, but even a tuned GTI would get nowhere near the power of the 330i and definitely not handling etc.

Fuel is also not an issue because I haven't got a need for the car for commuting, so if I'm broke, I just won't take it out. Its one of the reasons I am leaning towards the bmw over the gti, if I did have any need of a car for commuting, I probably would just get the gti due to economy and road tax.

What concerns me is known faults with the car, I know first hand bmw part prices are immense, especially relative to hatchbacks, and since any car I find is bound to have a lot of miles on it, it is quite a concern, what the golf has going for it is while its a bit more expensive, they tend to be cheaper to service and there's more of them out there that seem decent.
 

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Unless you're under the influence of something, of course you should get your ass in one of Bavarias finest... I've shuffled 8 so far and never regretted anything.

Sent from my SNE-LX1 using Tapatalk
 

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The e92 is definitely a heavy car. I wouldn’t say the 325i lacks torque but it’s certainly not in the same league as the diesels or petrol turbos. If you want safe overtaking then be prepared to drop a gear or two (part of the fun imo). I think you’ll find the same with a 330i really, and as said, finding one with a manual box is difficult. I’m not sure they even made the LCI cars in manual.

If it’s torque you want then why not look at a 330d?

There are more around in your price range and they are available in manual. The 6 pot diesel is meant to be quite characterful and also very reliable if you’re worried about maintenance costs.
 

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You might want to do some research into the VW running costs. I found mine the most expensive car to run I’ve had to date.
 

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Discussion Starter #16
@James D many people see it the other way around, I don't tend to agree with them.
@Chris H72 I dont think you'd do an overtake without dropping a gear or 2 anyway, but the 330i has a 50bhp and 40lb/ft of torque advantage, that's certainly not insignificant, and although much tougher to find one, the prices are not that different if you do. The question is, what reliability issues are there for both and which is easier either due to depth of knowledge or part prices to fix if it does go wrong?

I'd go for a diesel in a smaller engine, but I hate the power delivery and low redline in larger engines, I don't think its necessary. It is when we are talking about a sub 2.0 since it helps it move off the line and forgives your not being in the proper gear during city driving, but petrol is way more fun.
@LondonE63 From my experience replacement parts on larger engined older bmws are as expensive if not more so than new ones and much harder to source in what is essentially a 10 year old car. The VW is sort of an appliance in that sense and because so many tuners use them, you can always find sound aftermarket parts if push comes to shove.

The 335i Vs 330i is another issue, the 335i is tempting, its more available than the 330i, the insurance cost is not extremely higher, and the prices due to rarity seem to be similar enough, but, the 330i is more reliable (how much so?) and is n/a, the torque difference is immense, but the 330i is no slouch and in my experience turboed cars are even more useless on fuel, are more expensive for tax purposes and lag, more tunable though...

So I guess the question is, do I just go for a 325i, so I can get it quicker and have lower running costs, be content with it and then just go for an m4 or something of the sort once I've saved up in 3-4 years time, or do I wait a couple of months (more like 3-6) more t get enough money to cover the cost of a 330 or even 335i and run it for longer?

Or another option I guess would be an e46 330i, which would be cheaper to buy run and insure, I can get it more quickly I am aware of most issues and would be much more comfortable looking for a used one. But its an older car, its more likely to be rusted and driven for a lot of miles, has much less equipment, more fragile electronics, less power...
 

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I meant actual service and running costs. I had a 2008 GT Sport and that used a litre of oil every 2k miles (apparently normal), the services were never less than £400 annually and it ate tyres (tracking etc all fine), and it wasn’t as if I was caning it. There was always something expensive that broke that was labour intensive or something electronic. For example you’ll see a lot with air deflectors - rain drips in onto the window switches otherwise. The bonnet catch had to be replaced twice. My DSG box failed (in 2011)...google mechatronics.

Don’t get me wrong, I loved it and it was fun, but I don’t miss it. It was a nice place to be but didn’t live up to the quality bragging.

If you’re on the cusp of M territory but still need a car, I’d keep saving up and buy something as a runaround to build up a no claims and keep costs down.

However...you have an itch to scratch

Personally I’d go for a 335 (I went 435) as you have a very different power delivery. I personally have never really liked the M cars as they are always a bit too ‘on’ all the time so have always gone for the ones that top the non-M range, and I’ve not been disappointed. So I stick with mine, 435, 650, X1 2.0 (ok that one is different )

As said above, go for a load of test drives, ideally back to back if you can, and you’ll find your sweet spot. It’s always fun shopping anyway
 

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Discussion Starter #18
You own enough cars and you'll have one that you always remember at the shop, it could even be a Toyota or Honda, I don't think that's enough of a reason, the car has the reputation of being reliable for a reason, your experience may be anecdotal or outlierish in some way, it doesn't mean the entire reputation the car has accumulted is unreliable. Although the dsgs are notorious for being faulty and quite expensive to fix as well.

The m4 will cost me north of £30,000 just for the car, insurance and running costs are another issue altogether, realistically, unless I can spend £40,000 on a car I'm not getting an m, that's why I classify it as a life goal to be able to spend that much on a car by the time I'm 30, which I think is not entirely outlandish. The fact remains however that I would want something closer to that point and crunching the numbers, the cost of an e92 could be between £7000-£9000 including insurance, tax and mot, depending on which model I go for. That is attainable reasonably within the next year for me, with the only caveat being my possibly having to get a loan for £3000-£4000, but I can afford to do so, because it will mean my getting the car a year early essentially, and the loan would be completely repaid within the year (if not less), and I have the ability to procure an interest rate 1/4 of what financing would end up being, without sacrificing a emergency savings etc. (I have studied finance and work in financial services I'm quite well versed in this stuff).

I'd certainly like to drive as many as I can before purchasing, but at the same time, most of these will be down south and that means considerable travel, costing both time and money to test drive without the intention of buying. I am also concerned about my apparent inability to get a proper mechanical check from a mechanic I trust since I don't know any mechanics in the UK. Which is why I'm trying to determine what those issues are to be as certain the car is sound as possible before buying.
 

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I’ve owned three polos and two golfs. They’ve all been expensive to keep. And I’ve had them a long time not just a couple of years.

I didn’t realise your budget is 5k without loans or finance (I’m using your 9k figure less 4k loan).

My advice would be not to buy any of the cars you’ve listed unless you can budget 1k+ a year on top of servicing, tax and insurance. You will get surprise bills.

Good luck!
 

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Discussion Starter #20
@LondonE63

I'm aiming to buy the car for a maximum of £7000, then the extra £2000 is to cover insurance, 1 year's tax and MOT. Before getting there, I'm aiming to incorporate £1000 into my emergency fund for unexpected car related issues.

The loan I was aiming to get was a max of £4000. I currently work at a bank (which for obvious reasons shall remain nameless), so I get favourable rates on personal loans, which are quite competitive. The interest on a £4000 loan for me provided I repay within the year, which is really not far fetched given my expenses plus fuel, since most of the other stuff I have incorporated in the price of the car, and some sacrifices which I'm more than willing to make, would end up being about £300, which is a price I'm willing to pay given the benefit of buying the car a year early, and which I will in the Long run hopefully save on insurance premiums.

The thing I'm wondering is, is it worth it buying a 335i or 330i over the 325i , which is significantly cheaper and forego maybe a couple of months of having the car and more importantly, the added security of what is essentially more income to budget towards everything else. i.e. how much is the benefit of either of those 2 in monetary terms.
 
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