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BMW 323i

BMW 323i Published: 28th Mar 2018 - 0 Comments - Be the first, contribute now!

BMW 323i
BMW 323i
BMW 323i
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If you after a cheap, modern, easy-going sporty daily driver then look no further

Owner: Alan Anderson Car: BMW323i Year: 1999

It’s been simply ages since our banger Beemer appeared in these pages – it’s still going, still stumbling through its MoTs and still providing quite enjoyable drives.

To recap, it’s one of the many average, take-it-or-leave-it battle scarred E46s on the market which we gave £500 for a few years ago. All told it’s been quite trustworthy, the biggest hassle is its tendency to drain its battery if left standing for a couple of days; a known fault with BMWs of this vintage which may be due to an expensive to repair failing CAN bus – wizardry which communicates to the engine, transmission and also stability control systems to you and me.

To solve from being stranded we simply disconnected the bootlocated battery and carried a jump pack until the editor of Modern Classics (who was similarly suffering) remarked the culprit could also be the ‘hedgehog’ that hibernates under the centre console, by the footwell. This electronic animal also controls some major systems that could well be an accessory to the crime.

With nothing to lose, we located it, cleaned its multi-plug contacts and – for good measure – fitted a large heavy-duty battery that we had kicking around. So far, so good, although to save de-coupling the battery, the now exposed plug is disconnected from the inside. Given the age of our car it hardly seems worthwhile going to the expense or faffing about fitting new one and besides, it makes a crafty anti-theft device.

Regular readers may have spotted the BMW in our windscreen replacement article last year; it developed the biggest crack we’ve seen for quite a while and obviously had to be attended to before the annual MoT, which only threw up a couple of advisories that we’ll sort out for peace of mind.

According to the specs, our 2.5-litre is supposed to deliver a healthy 170bhp (192bhp for the 325i tune which is the same engine but has a better induction and manifolding) although we highly suspect many have gone the way of Shergar. In normal driving, the six pot is still as smooth as you expect from a BMW unit and appears to have reasonable enough zip.

However, the ‘top end’ has all but disappeared and reluctant (on a track day!-ed) to haul the banger much over 110mph without a struggle. We suspect this is down to mainly three reasons; sheer age, a slipping clutch if abused – and an aftermarket performance air filter.

Haven’t you noticed the difference a new clutch unit has contributed to the liveliness of a car you’ve owned before? It’s surprising how a slight, an in many cases undetected, slippage can affect a car’s performance. The sports air induction – of unknown origin, we hasten to add – that came fitted on the car is also under suspicion as it’s not the first time we’ve experienced certain performance cones that hinder rather than help performance. Perhaps ours may be instrumental in weakening the fuel mixture a tad too much given that the fuel mpg computer regularly, surprisingly, displays a welcome 40+mpg on a run.

We’ll fit a new clutch as a matter of course and see if that improves matters as well as curing the slip but even so there’s still adequate zip to ensure a fun drive if gentle on the throttle and the handling – after fitting poly bushes to the rear, lowering the springs (too much to be fair) and fitting BMW 7 Series rims – is kart-like controllable and a lot of the credit must go to the Davanti tyres we’re testing. Impressive in the dry or wet with predicable breakaway, we rank them as one of the best budget brands on the block.

Unlike certain other classic mags, we hesitate to call our BMW one but, like our previous P-reg convertible, few can match a 20 year old Beemer as a cheap, yet pleasing enough daily driver.

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