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This is what makes the E46 3 Series one of the best BMWs ever

BMW E46 3 Series

When you hear the name”BMW“The first car that most people think of is probably the BMW E46 3 Series. It is without a doubt one of the most beloved BMWs ever produced and the model generation that has had the greatest number of sales in the entire history of BMW You can see why they are so loved: everyone loves them.The BMW E46 3 Series is arguably the company’s best 3 Series model to date.

The fourth generation of the BMW 3 Series, the BMW E46, was produced between 1997 and 2006. Without a doubt, BMW had succeeded in making another work of art. The BMW 3 Series quickly rose through the ranks and became the third most popular car in Germany.

Many people still consider the BMW 3 Series E46 a modern vehicle, even though it was first introduced in the late 1990s. The first production models of the E46 were released in 1998, which means that the model will soon celebrate its 25th anniversary.

Related: What to Look for When Buying a Used BMW E46 M3?

The stunning design of the new BMW E46 won many fans

The E46 was introduced in 1998 as a four-door sedan and marked a major refresher compared to the outgoing BMW E36. The two-door E46 offered much more flair than the uninspired four-door variant, while being almost as practical. BMW stated that the body of the E46 was 70% stiffer than that of the E36. Although the weight of the car was reduced due to the extensive use of aluminum in places such as the hood, brake calipers and suspension, it was ultimately heavier than its predecessor thanks to a greater number of features and a more leather-clad interior.


Following BMW’s guiding principles for driving dynamics, the E46 was introduced with a rear-wheel drive configuration with a 50/50 weight distribution. After being removed from the BMW 3 Series in 1991, four-wheel drive was reintroduced for the E46 model year on the 325xi, 330xi, and 330xd versions of the car.

Though it has been noted many times before, the E46’s excellent handling remains the most memorable feature of the car. The front tires get superior input from the hydraulic rack, which is heavier than most current vehicles. That’s a benchmark that several recently developed EPS systems are approaching, but not yet surpassing.


The famous Chris Bangl was in charge of a team of designers who carefully rebuilt or, rather, updated the old model. The flowing roofline of the BMW E46 and other distinguishing features ushered in a new era of automotive design. The E46 was available in different body types such as coupe, convertible, sedan and wagon.

Related: 10 Things Everyone Forgot About The BMW E46 M3

The E46 was a sporty-looking, agile car that was also exceptionally safe

ABS, the BMW-developed cornering brake control and six airbags were standard equipment. The new Otto variable valve engines were another selling point for the BMW E46 hatchback model. These engines were able to reduce fuel consumption by about 10% compared to their predecessors. The inline-4 and inline-6 ​​engines, both of which were available in different displacements and diesel variants, were offered for the fourth generation 3 Series.


It is worth noting that the 4-cylinder BMW 3 Series E46 was never exported to the United States, and all the imported model series are equipped with the 6-cylinder engine. In the beginning the E46 316i had 103 hp and 122 lb-ft of power, but in later years the M3 CSL version generated a whopping 355 hp and 273 lb-ft.

The significantly larger dimensions of the 3 Series have been successfully camouflaged by the newly designed exterior. It came standard with five seat belts, had a large cargo area, and most configurations were designed with folding rear seats, making it easy to carry things like bikes and construction supplies. The redesigned E46, launched in 2001retained the look of the original, with only minor changes.


In September 2001, both the sedan and touring model received a makeover. The wider and angular BMW kidney grille, as well as the different shapes of the front and rear lights, are the main visual features that make the modified version stand out. However, the engine was where the greatest progress was made. BMW debuted the 316i Compact at the 2001 Geneva Motor Show with a unique throttleless variable valve actuation technology.

After that, the Valvetronic technology was implemented in subsequent versions and then transferred to other BMW models. With the release of the E90 3 Series in late 2004, production of the E46 Series began to be discontinued. However, the E46 coupé and convertible models remained in production until August 2006.