BMW M3 Buying Guide

Whether you’re planning on buying your first BMW or your 50th, it’s always helpful to have a buying guide to help you make that decision. Right now, we’re looking at the four generations of the BMW M3 — the E30, E36, E46 and E90. Which of these M3’s is the right choice for you?

M3 30th Anniversary Front

E30 — 1988-1991

If you love antique European race cars, you’ll want to add an E30 to your collection. They’re pretty easy to get ahold of in the states, even if that means you’re limited to the coupe that BMW sold on this side of the pond. It’s considered to be one of the most reliable M3s, but the 2.3L 4-cylinder engine is a little finicky and requires valve adjustments every 30,000 miles or so. For the classic BMW fan, the E30 is better than the E21 that came before it and even better than the E36 that came after. They used to be a dime a dozen, but it’s getting more expensive to get your hands on one of these classics, so if one in good shape crosses your path, snap it up!

E36 — 1995-1999

It seems like everyone wants to get their hands on an E30, which leaves the next model on our list — the E36 — in its ever-growing shadow. There’s a reason that it seems like everyone who owns an E36 in the states spends all their time and money tuning or engine swapping it. That’s because, while it has the same 3.0L engine that the Euro model had, it was tuned differently. The Euro version of the E36 could generate 286 horsepower and 336 lb-ft of torque. The U.S. version only put out 240 horsepower and 225 lb-ft of torque.

If you’re looking for a project car or something that you can tune without too much trouble, you can pick up an E36 without breaking the bank. Just don’t expect it to live up to the E30’s expectations.

E46 — 2001-2006

It seemed like BMW learned its lesson with the E46, making it lighter and faster than the previous M3 generations. This model was available from 2001 to 2006, and BMW engineers focused on lighter weights and higher revs than ever before. The 3.2L engine was naturally aspirated, thanks to side vents that were the first of their kind. It ended up being 110 kg lighter than previous models and managed a 7:50 lap time at Nurburgring. This is not the kind of BMW you want to invest in if you think it’s going to go up in value over time. Instead, if you want something that will be a joy to drive, look for an E46.

E90 — 2008 – Present

The E90 is easily the best of the batch, though it will cost you a pretty penny to bring one home since they’re still in production. You’ve got three body styling options — a coupe, a sedan or a hard-top convertible. It comes equipped with a 4.0L V8 and your choice of a six-speed manual or seven-speed automated manual transmission. If you’re not able to pick up one of these beauties new, you might still be able to find a used option through BMW’s certified pre-owned website. Try to find one that’s still covered under a warranty — just in case.

Things to Remember

Now that you have a better idea of which M3 you’re looking for, here are a few things you’ll want to remember before picking up your new or new-to-you car:

  • Avoid rust at all cost on older models. A little rust here and there is to be expected in cars that are 20-30 years old, but if the frame is more rust than steel, run away as fast as you can. It’ll end up being more trouble than it’s worth.
  • Don’t forget insurance. If you luck into a rare or exclusive model, you may want to invest in high net worth insurance to protect your investment.
  • If you’re opting for an E90, look for certified pre-owned BMWs. It might cost you a little more, but you’ll have more protection if something goes wrong.

Looking Forward

Which M3 are you looking forward to adding to your collection? Let us know in the comments below!

BMW Announces Induction Charging Pilot Program for U.S.

Every so often, car companies will announce pilot programs that consumers can participate in. This is to ensure that the program they want to offer resonates well with their consumer base, while also giving people access the latest in the car industry.

Sometimes pilot programs look like a new rental program that is only scheduled to operate for a certain length of time. It may come back in the future, depending on how successful it is.

BMW has announced a U.S. pilot program of their own. BMW owners in Germany have already enjoyed the program, so now US owners will get to participate as well.

Read on to learn what the program is and how you may be able to qualify. It could end up transforming how you use and interact with your BMW.

What It Is

When consumers raise their voice about a concern or need they have, brands do their best to listen and meet those needs. One of the biggest concerns that many car owners have is how their car can leave a smaller carbon footprint.

Going green has been an issue that’s gained speed and traction in recent years. The car industry is one of the biggest players in green initiatives, since cars run off fossil fuels that damage the environment and can’t be replaced.

That’s where the new pilot program comes in. The U.S. Induction Charging Pilot Program is meant to transition BMW owners to cars that charge off of electricity, making the process easier and more approachable.

How to Qualify

BMW plans to roll out this program in California, opening it to 200 participants over 13 counties. These participants must go through an approval process, so not everyone will qualify.

The brand is looking for BMW owners who meet the following criteria:

  • Must own a garage
  • Must live on a qualifying local electrical grid
  • Must complete a 36-month 530e sedan lease

This is an excellent way for BMW consumers to try out the world of electric cars without having to spend all the money upfront on a car they’d permanently keep. They could try the car out with the driving lifestyle and see if an electric car is a good match for their needs.

How It Changes the Future

Cars that run on gasoline hurt people and the environment at the same time, even though people can’t see the immediate effects. Air and noise pollution, along with toxic oil runoff from roadways and the limited fossil fuel resources all add up when so many people buy traditional cars.

BMW’s pilot program helps change the future by making it easy to try out. Participants will have a CarPad installed under their car and a GroundPad put in their garage for free. When they park their car over the pad, it wirelessly charges their car by using magnetic induction.

The car fully charges after just fours. It saves owners time, instead of making them stop at a gas station every few days to refuel.

BMW i3 Charging
BMW i3 Charging

One of the biggest hurdles people have to make when going green with their cars is making the leap into electric vehicles. It’s intimidating for someone who’s never done it before, but BMW owners who qualify for this program can try it out for free and change the future of how they experience their car.