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BMW 3-Series Sport Wagons

mluikeymluikey Member Posts: 3
edited March 2014 in BMW
I just read the Sunday Chicago Tribune (June 20)
and they showed a picture of a BMW 3 Series wagon
and stated it will be offered in early 2000. The
playing field is starting to get real interesting.
Anyone know anymore about this car?


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    fran2fran2 Member Posts: 1
    Check out the bmw.com website, rather than bmwusa.com. I found photos and some info on the 3-series wagon (now offered in Europe only).
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    daver63daver63 Member Posts: 2
    Autoweek (or is it Motorweek) recently had an article about BMW's new US offerings. I currently drive a 95 525iT (wagon) and have been toying around the idea of upgrading to a new 528iT or 540iT. They're very expensive, so I might also be interested in the new 3-wagons.

    The global BMW website (previously mentioned) has some pictures of the 3-wagon, and I'm not as wild about the styling. I'm also unsure about the cargo space compared to the 5-series.

    Regardless, soon as a local dealer gets one, I'll be there asking for a testdrive.
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    twoof1twoof1 Member Posts: 308
    Has anyone heard of an official release date for the 3-series wagon? Will it be available in the 323 and 328 levels? has anyone read any reviews? any web sites that have the specs?
    Just curious about this car,
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    nedzelnedzel Member Posts: 787
    BMW's web site has some info. http://www.bmw.com
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    denisjeidenisjei Member Posts: 4
    C&D reviewed the wagon in their latest mag. Unfortunately, it will be available with the 323 (2.5l) engine only. Price is a hair under 30K before options. Wasn't clear from the article what the performance numbers would be as it looks like they actually drove the 328 version - available in Europe only.

    I had ruled out the 3 series because of lack of rear seat room. But in the wagon they've moved the rear seat back an inch, which should help a lot.

    Plus, with the added weight in the back they come closer to 50/50 weight distribution. Perhaps the wagon will out-handle the sedan??
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    twoof1twoof1 Member Posts: 308
    I just stopped by a local BMW dealer here in southern California to ask about the 3-series wagon. He said that BMW has pulled the plug on bringing the 3-series wagon to the USA. His reasoning was that with the new X5 and the slow sales of the 528 wagon, they were not going to further dilute their market by bringing in the new wagon.
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    richphotorichphoto Member Posts: 2
    I guess I will run out and get my Avant, I was waiting to look at a 3 wagon only because I like the design and already have a A4 in the family ( amazing car ).
    Is this confirmed or just another rumor?
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    twoof1twoof1 Member Posts: 308
    I stopped by 2 other local BMW dealers and got different answers.
    1 said they will be manufactured starting June 2000 for intro into US as 2001 models in 325 and 330 model levels!!.
    1 said intro into US later this model (2000) year. Anyone with more info, please contribute
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    dudleyrdudleyr Member Posts: 3,469
    For what it is worth the 3 series wagon is listed in the EPA mileage guide for 2000. So it has been certified.
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    richphotorichphoto Member Posts: 2
    Noticed a drive test in the November Car& Driver so they seem to think it is still coming.
    Oh well, I just bought the Saab 9-5 wagon, didn't want to wait for a car plus the deals right now are hard to pass up. I just bough a fully loaded one msrp 34,795 for 32,000 and at 2.9 apr for 4 years. was going to lease but hey this way I can do what I want with the car and even sell it if I decide I want a bmw wagon after they come out. The best thing is that I have only seen 1 Saab wagon on the road in a city of many many Saabs and I have already seen many many new bmw coupes out.
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    quichemanquicheman Member Posts: 4
    I was told by my local dealer that I should look for the first 3 series wagons to arrive in March. He had no information on engines, MSRP's, etc. Didn't seem very interested in building a relationship. Maybe he knew (or suspected) more than he was letting on. Meanwhile, if they're having such a tough time unloading the 5 series, maybe there are bargains to be had!
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    buvverbuvver Member Posts: 7
    For anyone who's interested, the BMW USA website has pictures of the new 3 wagon expected out in early 2000 under the news section.
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    holger1holger1 Member Posts: 1

    Thanks for posting the info on the 3wagon. I'd be interested to know the source of your information that the 3-series wagon has an extra inch of space in the rear seat as compared to the sedan.

    Check out these specs from the edmunds sheet:

    Front Leg Room: 41.4 in.
    Rear Leg Room: 34.6 in.

    528iT Sport Wagon
    Front Leg Room: 41.7 in.
    Rear Leg Room: 34.2 in.

    I realize that the 3series has a little less head room and less shoulder room than the 5series wagon, but isn't the biggest factor in comfort the leg room? Especially if the 3wagon is going to have that extra inch, I would be taking an longer look at the 3wagon when and if it comes. Any other insight?
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    mlomkermlomker Member Posts: 1
    I hadn't really considered owning a wagon until I saw the 323 sport wagon. The styling is much better than anything I've ever seen.

    It looks like it'll be here in March. You can read all of the details on the bmwusa site - find the link under the News & Events menu.
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    twoof1twoof1 Member Posts: 308
    The BMWUSA.COM web site now has pricing information and you can custom build it with options. Looks like release to dealers in March or April
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    toolmakertoolmaker Member Posts: 1
    Saw a 3 series in St. Louis the past Sunday. Test-drove a Passat GLX. Trying to decide between the two.

    From specification I read, it looks like Bimmer is overall smaller, either dimensions or power. Passat offers more, leather and sun roof standard on GLX. If they are comparably equipped, bimmer would be at least 5 thousands more. So, what do you think?
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    glxwagon4moglxwagon4mo Member Posts: 121

    Depends on your needs. Can't say that I've sat in the 3 series, but from what I've read it sounds more comparable to the Audi A4. If you have a small family and need the space, then the Passat is the way to go. Plus, you can now get AWD with the Passat. The BMW will certainly be the better handling car of the two...think of it as a 3 series sedan with a "fanny pack"

    Good luck in your decision!

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    mstsscmstssc Member Posts: 89
    If you really like to 'drive' your cars, don't ever ever take a BMW for a drive unless you are prepared to buy.

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    4thedogs4thedogs Member Posts: 2
    I whole-heartedly agree with Steve!! This is the car I've been waiting for with one reservation - last time we were in the market, my hubby vetoed the 5-series wagon ('94) because the battery is under the back seat. Will this be the case for this wagon too?
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    newtobmwnewtobmw Member Posts: 1
    I will be buying either the BMW 323iT or the Audi A4 wagon. Two questions: Any positive or negative experiences with the BMW wagon; and is the rear wheel drive bad for snow. I would like to buy the BMW but do not want to sacrifice safety.
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    MorganConradMorganConrad Member Posts: 21
    Never driven a BMW in snow, supposedly with traction control it's o.k. The Audi Quattro will be better. But this still ignores one big plus of Quattro, at least in California: no need for chains! In moderately heavy snow, AWD vehichles with snow tires don't need chains to get past the checkpoint, the BMW will. Chains are a pain to put on and tricky with all the fancy aluminum suspension parts on sporty cars like the bimmer and Audi. Check your local state regulations.
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    lurker4lurker4 Member Posts: 19
    I checked out the 323iT wagon yesterday--the battery is in a compartment on the right-hand side of the cargo area floor (opposite where the 6 CD changer would go). More accessible than under a seat, but still not under the hood. Per BMW, this location helps the sport wagon achieve its excellent near 50/50 weight distribution.

    Overall, sitting in the wagon was a delight (showroom model was metallic dark blue, sand interior, w/Premium Sport Package, auto w/Steptronic). I'm 6'3" and the power seat moved back to a comfortable position with travel to spare. Hip and shoulder room were of course less than in 5-series cars. Headroom seemed fine, even for me. Typical BMW fit, finish & material quality throughout, although I noted some less expensive (vs. 5-series) interior plastics used in some areas, e.g. center console cupholder area, cargo cover, etc.

    The car is packed with typically brilliant BMW engineering and design details, some of which (eg trip computer) of course you must pay more for. The sticker with metallic paint and Premium Sport (no phone, CD, or navigation)was 38K and change. Safety: Front and side airbags, BMW "head protection system" (which appears to be a slightly padded A-pillar), ABS, Dynamic Stability System.

    I love the car (especially the looks), but note that it is a bit small compared to most other wagons. If you want to carry dogs bigger than Jack Russells, you'll want to fold down the seats. The car I saw had a nifty retractable pet gate (standard?) but the area it sections off would be rather confining for even one dog the size of a typical lab or golden.

    Of course, I didn't have time to drive it, or I'd probably be describing "my new 323iT."
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    PeterunPeterun Member Posts: 83
    Where can the wagon be seen? Picked up the brochure today in LA, but no wagon on floor. Pete
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    lurker4lurker4 Member Posts: 19
    I'm in Chicago, and I saw someone post on this thread saying they saw the wagon in St. Louis. I'm surprised they're not on the floor in LA yet (may be just a port-of-entry and transport issue--they just hit the showroom here this week so maybe they're on trucks/railcars on the way to the West Coast as we speak).
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    richardtbrichardtb Member Posts: 11
    I was considering special ordering a BMW 3-series sport wagon with as the only options: foglights, multi-function steering wheel, metallic paint.
    Any options that I should be ordering?
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    PeterunPeterun Member Posts: 83
    I ordered the 3 with the Premium-Sport pkg; Harmon-Kardon; Leather; Roof, and Navigation. I think that's it. Five speed manual. Debated about the Xenon lights and opted against it. The Nav, although a hefty $1800, is an option I am very used to having. My car is due to arrive in LA on 4/11. Black/gray leather sports seats. If the wagon with the sports suspension drives anything like the 3 coupe . . . I will be a happy guy. Meantime, none here to see. Pete
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    4thedogs4thedogs Member Posts: 2
    Thanks so much. Are you psychic too? I do have one Jack Russell, but the other dog is a large (but fit!!) Bassett Hound who gets grumpy when he doesn't have enough room. Add in a large husband and an 8 yr old, and I guess I need to keep shopping...
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    buvverbuvver Member Posts: 7
    I recently sat in a 323 wagon and liked it very much. For anyone that has ordered one, what type of discounts from MSRP are being offered ? I recently received an on-line quote for almost $2000 below list.
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    richardtbrichardtb Member Posts: 11
    James: where exactly did you ge that quote
    ($2000 below list)? Thanks.
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    bpm3bpm3 Member Posts: 1
    Folks, I just drove a 323it over the weekend and it is an impressive automobile. The car had the Premium Sport package, leather, moon roof, and a few other options. I live in Germany but the car I tested was a US spec model. There's nothing like taking a test drive on the German autobahns! The car was solid and felt extremely stable. It cruised at 100MPH without the slightest strain. Additionally, it was filled with nice touches and it was obvious the car was well thought-out. The electronic driver's seat was notable. My wife (5'1") drove the car and adjusted the seat to fit her perfectly. At 6'1", the seat easily adjusted and gave me plenty of head and leg room. It's a nice ride.
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    brechbielbrechbiel Member Posts: 13
    I recently bought a BMW 323iT Sport Wagon. I am 42, married, with two college-aged children, and live in Atlanta. I wanted an appealing new vehicle to carry 4 adults comfortably around town, run errands, and occasionally haul something bigger than suitcases and groceries. Each year my family usually take a few road trips of several days each. Our '89 Dodge Grand Caravan runs fine, but the A/C broke two years ago and is not economical to repair. Our trusty '91 Infiniti G20 is a great car! We will keep the van to haul big or messy stuff. The van also reduces overall insurance costs as my kids are listed as occasional drivers on our policy.

    At first I considered replacing the van with the hard-to-get Honda Odyssey. Then, I drove several medium-sized sedans, some with split-foldown rear seats. Atlanta is swarming with SUVs, but we didn't want one because most waste gas and pollute too much for their typical use, which is carrying ONE person!

    Every car I drove was desirable in one or more ways. The Infiniti I30 and Acura 3.2TL are excellent and pack a lot of value. The Lexus ES300 is smooth and quiet, if sedate. The VW Passat sedan is impressive, but the wagon has too much body roll and feels "squiggly" under acceleration coming out of turns. Also, the VW 2/24 basic warranty makes me wary. The Audi A6 2.7T is fantastic. I probably would have bought one if it was about $6k less. The M-B C280 Special Edition is nice and competent, but it's an old design. The I30 and 3.2TL are better values, IMO.

    For wagons, I first drove a BMW 528iT. I liked it, but at about $50K it was more than I wanted to spend, and it was too large for my typical use of carrying one or two people and hauling groceries. One dealer had several 528iT service loaners that were due to be sold at several thousand off the new price. That was enticing -- but then I drove the 323iT. At first I wasn't overly impressed. After a second drive, and a thorough review of my wants and needs, I decided it was the one. I also tried the A4 2.8 Avant, but I think the 323iT is a better car for only $1k more if comparably loaded. I did not test the Volvo or Suburu wagons.

    I bought the 323iT from the sole BMW dealer in Macon, GA, 85 miles south of Atlanta. They were a pleasure to deal with, and sold it for 5% over invoice, plus tax, tag and title. Atlanta metro area dealer quotes ranged from MSRP to $1400 off, even though the 323iT is apparently not in much demand. I haven't seen another one on the road yet. The Macon BMW dealer quickly found the exact car I wanted. They traded a dealer in TX for cars due them from BMW's lot in Spartanburg, SC. They had the car in just 4 days, and even sent a driver to pick me up in Atlanta. (Dealers in Athens, GA and Birmingham, AL had similar prices to the Macon dealer. It pays to shop around!)

    I chose Titanium Silver as it emphasizes the styling lines, is easy to see, stays cool in summer, and doesn't show dirt much. Other options include gray leather, Steptronic auto, sport-premium pkg., and CD upgrade. The 323iT is sporty and fun to drive! With the sport-premium package it has most of the luxury amenities available in today's finest cars. I am 6' and find the seating position comfortable. I sometimes wish the center section wasn't so close to my right leg. The 323i wagon has more rear legroom and headroom than the sedan.

    Unfortunately, the sport suspension and snazzy 17" wheels allow more road noise, but the secure handling and lack of body roll make up for it. Generally, wagons have more noise than sedans because they have more windows and less rear wheel well isolation. The 3-spoke sport steering wheel has more useable hand grip area, though it could be a little rounder and softer.

    The stock 10-speaker sound system is pretty good, and sounds better as the speakers break-in. The BMW/Alpine CD-changer is about $400 mail-order, and a 30-minute DIY install. I am considering upgrading the amp and speakers to an A/D/S P650, 345is.2, and 235is. The steering wheel audio controls are wonderful as it lets me ride the volume and track/station selections depending on mood and traffic conditions.

    Due to the coded driveaway protection, it would be difficult to steal this car. However, there is no alarm in the 323iT. The "E46" factory alarm kit is about $235 mail-order, and takes the average DIY an hour to install. A dealer has to program the computer to recognize the alarm components, and this will cost about $35. A complete dealer install would probably run $400 or so.

    All in all, we are very pleased with the 323iT. It has great looks and numerous safety features -- most importantly BMW's justly famous handling and braking. Many well-designed items sprinkled throughout continue to surprise and delight us. It is practical for our needs and should be reliable for a decade of regular use.

    We are already eyeing the possibility of a used 5 or 7 series to replace the G20 in a couple of years!
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    a6wagona6wagon Member Posts: 19
    I spoke with the local BMW guy and he told me that the 323iT AWD version will be out in October. He could take my order in August. This will make the 323iT an even better value. It has the same system as the X5. I currently own a 97 Audi A6 wagon, 90K miles, no problems. Yet, when I drove the X5, the DSC-X was awesome. I drove on ice and liquid detergent with the accelerator nailed to the floor. There was not a hint of slippage what so ever. I want a 323iT, but will wait for the AWD living here in Chicago where the winters can be rough. Thanks for your comments brechbiel. This vehicle is a, AWESOME alternative to the X5 in terms of value, flexibility and fun!! The fact that it lacks demand is even better. Better price and uniqueness on the road!!
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    richardtbrichardtb Member Posts: 11
    Did you actually want to purchase the 323iT
    with the sport package or did you buy this way
    because the wagon that you found had it?
    I was tempted in getting it because of the seats,
    however I did not want the tires that come with
    it. Many people who are on bimmer.org claim that
    they have the sport package and an extra set of
    tires for when it snows, but that was too much of an expense and trouble for me. Maybe that is
    not of an issue in Atlanta. The salesperson also
    told me that the performance tires are also a
    pain if you drive in bumpy roads.

    I was planning to buy the cd-changer from the
    dealer instead of getting it for cheaper via mail-order so that it gets the 4 year car warranty
    instead of the 1 one year party warranty. If
    anybody thinks that this is a waste of money, please let me know.
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    a6wagona6wagon Member Posts: 19
    Where do you live? If you live in any place you get snow, then you should opt for the normal wheels over the sport package. I drove the sport package with the 5spd and felt like I had just gotten beat up after driving for about 20 minutes. Here in Chicago we have the worst roads in the US. Ask yourself - how are the roads where u live and what is the weather like? this will help you determine what is best for u.

    IMOHP in terms of the CD, go through the dealer for the warranty - if the dealer is any good, it will save u some hassle in the long run.
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    richardtbrichardtb Member Posts: 11
    Thanks, the advice is very helpful.
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    richardtbrichardtb Member Posts: 11
    Something else that I was going to add given
    your name on edmunds.com. I have an 91 audi
    200 (105k miles) and the only problem I have had
    so far has been with stereo head unit that had
    to be replaced twice (first time under warranty
    for free, second time for $100). The 91 audi 100 does not have a good service record so I don't know if I was lucky or whether the 200 was built better. I would have bought the a6wagon but I found it a bit too expensive (although worth it if I really needed the space). a4wagon backseats were a bit too small.
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    brechbielbrechbiel Member Posts: 13
    Richardtb, I preferred the combined sports-premium package. True, I sometimes wish the suspension and tires were more compliant and made less noise, but I do not find it excessive. After all, if that were my chief criteria, I would have chosen the Lexus ES300!

    I drove both versions, and the standard suspension/wheels do not yeild a dramatically quieter ride. IMO, the "cruising" ride is pretty darn good with the sports pkg, and the 17" wheels are real lookers. All things considered, I am glad I chose the sport package. The 3-spoke wheel lets me put my hand in the 4-5 or 6-7 o'clock positions, which is not possible with the 4-spoke wheel. I find the sports seats an improvement over the standard seats. I will rarely use the foglights. BTW, I believe the standard suspension already has larger rear components to help compensate for the potential load. Fortunately, there is rarely any snow to contend with in Atlanta.

    If you drive the sports equipped 323iT quickly around a bumpy corner, it hangs in there!
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    popthathoodpopthathood Member Posts: 4
    Hi ...

    I am a proud new owner of the 323i wagon, though I went for the basic options to keep the price down. The leatherette seats tend to make for a bit of a sweaty experience unless you have the air on cold all the time. I was wondering if the leather seats do the same? The seat covers offered by BMW look pretty limited ... no interest in woolly sheep ones, and the cotton ones are clearly dustcovers & not meant as functional driving seat covers. Any suggestions?

    Other than that, at 6'3" I am very happy with the room & driving position, and the telescoping steering wheel makes an excellent difference for those of us with long legs. Backseat room seems adequate - certainly better than I had thought now that I've seen a few adults in the car with me.

    I got the in dash CD because on long trips I definitely go through more than 6 CD's, and personally find changing disks no trouble at all. At $200 to have factory installed, it seems very reasonable, and I'm more than happy with the sound & volume range (no cassette, but last one of those I bought was Roxette's second album back in 1991).

    Still haven't properly experimented with the steptronic mode, but will do so on next trip upstate.

    So far, so good....!!
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    bimmerpilotbimmerpilot Member Posts: 17
    I've considered trading my wonderful 328iS in on "something more practical" in my wife's words. I just couldn't find anything I'd be happy with. Not until I read about the 323iT and the input here from those who now own one and others that have driven the car. I'll be taking my 3 in for inspection II next week and it will be a perfect time to take the wagon for a test drive.
    Have any of you traded another Bimmer in on your 323iT? Do BMW dealers usually allow more of a trade-in value on incoming Bimmers?
    I remember seeing 3 series wagons based on the E36 and always wished they'd sell them in the US. It's great to see the 323iT being offer here.
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    Karen_SKaren_S Member Posts: 5,092
    ...First Drive: 2000 BMW 323i Sport Wagon.

    Come back here to post your comments.


    Wagons host
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    tomsrtomsr Member Posts: 325
    I have longed for a Beemer for years but always
    thought they were out of my price range.Now that the 323i sport wagon is here and around $30k
    a closure look is needed.What about cost of maintenance I've heard horror stories about.What about theft rate.How do I keep my wife from getting it? Should I also compare it to VW Passat?
    We,ve had our eyes set on an Acura 3.2TL but since
    I'll be giving up my Explorer the practical me says wagon with luxury features and fun.
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    twoof1twoof1 Member Posts: 308
    All BMW's now come with 3 year or 36,000 mile bumper to bumper service included at no charge. This covers everything from oil & filters to windshield wipers!!
    Theft rate is very low. The insurance rate on my '00 Z3 (convertible) is lower than the rate on either my Volvo XC wagon or my Diamante sedan.
    On the question about keeping your wife away, The only thing I have found that works is a very long leash!!
    Good luck
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    bimmerpilotbimmerpilot Member Posts: 17
    I have a 328iS that I've put 40K miles on and it's only been in the shop for free scheduled inspections and oil changes. The car is typically driven over 300 miles a week with 20 of those miles being up and down a twisty turny canyon road. Lucky me. : )
    I too had heard about BMWs costing so much to maintain years ago. I've owned five (all of them 6 cyl. cars made in germany) and would not agree. Most of the people that I hear that from have never owned a BMW or owned one back in the early eighties or even earlier.
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    brechbielbrechbiel Member Posts: 13
    My family of four has had a BMW 323iT Sport Wagon for about a month. It is driven mostly by me and my 18-year old daughter. Overall, it has more than met our expectations, though there is room for improvement in several areas. This is our experience after 2200 miles. (See my previous postings #32 and #38)

    We have taken the 323iT on two "mountain" trips from Atlanta, GA. One 600-mile trip to Asheville, NC included the Blue Ridge Parkway and even more twisty side roads. The other 450-mile trip was to the Smoky Mountains. I had so much fun driving this car I had to remind myself to look at the scenery! We got around 28mpg on both trips, which is quite good considering about a third of the miles were driven on mountain roads, and the air conditioner was in constant use. Driving on relatively flat roads without A/C will probably yield 31-32mpg.

    As delivered from the dealer, all tires were inflated to 35psi. On the first trip, I reduced the front to 30psi and kept the rear at 35psi. This was a little quieter, but the tires really needed more air for twisty road driving. On the second trip, I increased the front to 33psi and the rear to 37psi. This gave a little more road noise, but better handling. (The door sticker for 225/45ZR17 tires and light-medium loads calls for 30 front and 36 rear.)

    The sport and manual modes of the Steptronic auto were very useful in mountain terrain. I mainly used sport mode, except for long downhill sections where I switched to 3rd, 2nd, even 1st. After the 1500-mile break-in, I was less reluctant to use the lower gears -- because it would sometimes push the RPMs to over 4500. The GM-built Steptronic auto is exceptional. The ergonomics are excellent with the shifter moving even closer to you when in sport/manual. I initially wanted a manual tranny, but that was vetoed by my family. I am happy with the auto now, especially considering the added convenience in city driving and the impressive gas mileage.

    I am 6' tall, 145lbs, with a "lean and lanky" build. For me, the sports seats are just a little too firm and lacking in lumbar support. Not bad, but alas not as comfortable as the gorgeous velour seats in my '91 Infiniti G20. Also, when I have the seat positioned for optimum legroom, I would like the telescoping steering wheel to come about 1-2" closer than it can. Ahem, I think that people with big rumps will find the sport seat side and bottom bolsters too close together!

    For me, the gas pedal is just a little too close to the centerline of the steering column. This results in my lower body twisting slightly to the left. This somewhat compromised pedal location is due to the inline 6-cylinder engine and rear drive transmission intruding into the driver compartment. This is not a big deal, but a larger rear wheel drive car or most any front drive car will have more room for the right leg.

    The gauges and controls are comprehensive and easy to see in all daylight conditions, and are rear lit in a pleasing red color at night. The A/C has plenty of capacity to cool the entire wagon on a hot day. On Auto mode, it will blast you for the first couple of minutes until the car begins too cool down. My wife finds the initial noise distracting, but I remind her that the alternative is to be hot longer!

    The audio system power level and speaker quality is probably adequate for most listeners. Music lovers will likely want to upgrade. I have the CD upgrade, but no changer. I usually carry at least a dozen CD's on long trips and I never know which one I want to listen to next, so the CD changer would probably not have much practical value anyway. The steering-wheel-mounted volume controls and radio/CD track selectors are fantastic, especially to fine tune the volume level with music having many quiet passages.

    There are two cupholders in front. The driver will want to use the front-most one, and it works quite well. The other cupholder is located under the fold-up armrest, and is somewhat inconvenient. A tall drink simply will not fit there, but a 12oz. can or small cup is OK. Our solution is to use one of the rear cupholders for the front passenger -- but we found these too small in diameter for some drinks.

    As I expected, the wagon configuration is very practical. The rear liftgate is tall enough for me to stand under in the rain. Two people can sit in the rear opening and change into hiking boots at the same time.


    A car this expensive should have an alarm system. I thought it had one when I bought the car! The wiring and computer are ready for it. The siren, tilt and motion sensor components are probably less than $100 at manufacturer cost. The dealer will want about $400-450 to install the BMW E46 factory alarm kit.

    Most of the dashboard is flat black, which is great because it avoids glare. BUT, there is a strip of several inches, the same color as your interior, that goes across the width of the car between the main black dash section and the base of the windshield. With gray or sand interiors, and depending on the light, this can cause an annoying reflection across the entire lower windshield. If the interior is black, this will not be a problem.

    When going from reverse to forward, it takes the auto transmission too long to make the shift. I find I have to stop completely and wait until I feel the change, then I can go forward. If I remove my foot from the brake and press the gas too soon I get a "slamming" sensation as the forward gear engages.

    It is sometimes inconvenient, even annoying, to use the center console buttons to raise/lower the windows. At a minimum, the front passenger should have his or her own door-mounted button. The 323iT has one-touch window and sunroof opening via the key or remote control. You can also use the key in the doorlock to close the windows and sunroof. Very convenient. On a hot day, you can open the sunroof and windows to vent the heat before you get in, but you have to close each window one by one. A separate button to open/close all windows would be convenient. I suppose this wish should go under the heading "How easily we are spoiled!"

    The rear shoulder belts are not tall enough for a 6' passenger. They will tend to slip off the shoulders. Backseat room is ok for two 6' adults, but there is not enough shoulder/hip room even for small teenagers. The rear armrest is too long and/or wide for the size of the rear seat area. With the armrest down, a large adult passenger's leg will hit the armrest. The rear cupholders on the center armrest are not big enough. By the way, the only defect (so far) is that the rear center seatbelt will not pull out.

    The 3-spoke sport steering wheel could be more comfortable. IMO, the stitching on the inner rim is too coarse, the shape is too angular on the front edge, the grip diameter is not large enough, and overall, it is too hard to the touch.


    The BMW 323iT has a smooth, fuel-efficient engine with a broad power band. The Steptronic auto nearly duplicates the economy, control and feel of a manual, but with far more convenience. Handling and braking are fun and confidence inspiring. You forget you are driving a wagon. Styling and design are top notch. It is a real head turner according to my teenage daughter and her friends. The quality of materials and construction seems a good value. Overall, it has been a reliable, comfortable and fun to drive vehicle.

    I would buy it again, but I would probably skip the sport package. However, those 17" wheels and tires sure are cool!
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    goldnbrgoldnbr Member Posts: 8
    Having taken some measurements of the cargo area
    in the 323iT, I'm pretty sure it will fit a bike
    (with front wheel off) in the back with both rear
    seats folded down. Does anybody know for sure if
    you can fit a bike back there with only the left
    rear seat folded down? It looks like it might just
    make it, but I'm not sure.

    Also, does anyone know why the cargo volume is
    rated so much less than the Volvo V40? The overall
    sizes of the 2 vehicles are almost identical. Is
    the BMW's cargo area interior narrower and not as

    Thanks for any help.

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    brechbielbrechbiel Member Posts: 13
    In #45 I wrote:

    "Backseat room is ok for two 6' adults,
    but there is not enough shoulder/hip room even for small teenagers."

    What I meant to say was:

    "Backseat room is ok for two 6' adults,
    but there is not really enough shoulder/hip room even for three small teenagers, though they will fit."

    Of course, three children will fit fine in the 323iT backseat, but a minivan will be better for long trips with small kids. (Been there, Done That!)

    Hope this helps!
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    richardtbrichardtb Member Posts: 11
    I am not sure about the volvo, but I know that
    in comparaison to the audi a4 avant, the bmw
    has less cargo volume to give more room for the
    backseat passengers.
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    yellowbikedonyellowbikedon Member Posts: 228

    I am an avid bicyclist who posed the same question of being able to fit a bike or two into the cargo area of the 323 wagon. I believe the EPA cargo volume with rear seat down is about 48 cu. ft. I looked at the Subaru wagons and with 68.6 cu. ft. available, I can fit two bicycles into the area WITH front wheels in place. Subaru are coming to market with a horizontally opposed 6 cylinder (similar to Porsche concept) late this year. Price with all the do-dads is anticipated at $30,000 with another $2,000 for VDC (vehicle Dynamics Control) and McIntosch Audio System. I'm strongly leaning towards Subaru for size, equipment and reliability reputation. I'd be happy to discuss my thoghts further if you have an interest.

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    yellowbikedonyellowbikedon Member Posts: 228

    Second comment. We've gotton two bikes (with wheels removed) into a Subaru Outback WITH one rear seatback in the upright position and one flat.

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    superman5superman5 Member Posts: 154
    is everyone paying msrp for wagons too in s.cal?
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