My dad has a E46 saloon and I drive it quite often, and have to say I was a little disappointed. The drive is good and even in stock spec handles well, but compared to the GTI it feels boring inside and even as far as not as good quality. Tuning is limited without spending major money. I think the BMW is a very good car, but I would only change my 1.8T for a 330i or M3. I dont know if a 323 will be enough for you.
All I can say is most people who have a mk4 (or car derived from it) struggle to ever find somethign which does all things well. Go Jap you gain power but lose quality, BMW gain quality but lose tuning opportunity etc.
Only you can decide but your best going for a test drive of one and then think about it.
I've been looking at BMW's too, most recently an E39 535i M-Sport.I like the design, but the interior had worn a lot worse than my Golf, and there were rust spots starting to show. I'm amazed that BMW didn't galvanise these cars, despite charging £40k+ for them. I feel that with a BMW, perhaps the engine will last, but the trim and body may well let it down.
I test drove a 325ci Msport not too long back, and it didn't feel as quick as the Golf, nor did it accelerate with any urgency. Mind you, it was only 192bhp.
I had a black e36 compact 316i. It was slow, but it had full black leather interior. It felt sooo solid and smooth to drive. They really are great if you are after a comfortable car. A bus hit into the of it at 30mph [cry] and none of us in the car were even injured, with minimal damage to the car!! I do find myself finking about it once in a while but when I get in my golf and heard the roar of the cone filter and the dv, Im glad I have this now. Get the remap and you wont look back!!
Bmw's are nice and i buy and sell cars but must admit the golf mk4 is very good all rounder performance wise and for pottering around town....parking is never an issue theres only one car i'd pick over it and that the Mercedes E w211 chassis with Airmatic but running costs dont allow me too hence mk4 wins everytime hands down
My mate had a mapped 1.8t and swapped for an E46 328ci. That was about a 8 months ago, hes been trying to get another 1.8t for the last 7 [:O] Personally i prefer the turbocharged feel but the BMW was a lovely car. Just down to what you want at the end of the day. I wont be changing mine for anything else [Y]
I had 3 mkivs before I bought an E46. Is the BMW better? Yes, at everything. It doesn't feel outstanding in one particular aspect, but that's mainly because it does everything well. It's lso built an awful lot better than any mkIV I've been in. The BMW has done 125k miles and counting and there's not even a hint of a rattle from the interior trim.
Would I swap the E46 to go back to a MkIV? Seriously, you're kidding.......right?
Would I buy another mkIV under any circumstance? Not a chance.
Would I even buy another VAG car? Probably not.
People get sucked in to buying older, neglected, high mileage BMs (and there's a lot out there) because they're cheap and people suddenly realise 'Wow, I can afford a BMW!' and then act disappointed because it feels a bit ropey or they have problems with it.
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