Almost two years ago I bought a BMW 328i Touring E36, and after a lot of work (and money) “invested” in returning it to a state closer to the factory, I can finally start to really enjoy it and tell you how it goes this car.
You will know all about the origins of the BMW 3 Series, but I am going to release the “plate” anyway. It appeared in the market back in 1975, replacing the popular ones at that time. In the early Series 3 (E21 in bemeteriano language) it was followed by the E30 in 1983 and the E36 in the late 1990s, which is the model I have. The E36 (320i and 325i) six-cylinder petrol and 24-valve M50 engines were replaced in 1995 by the “M52” engine that runs my all-aluminum car in 320i, 323i and 328i versions. And the Touring body appeared next to this M52 engine, completing the range of saloon four doors, coupé two doors, Compact three doors and cabrio. The E36s were replaced by the E46 in 1998.
My 328i is from 1996, a few months before the slight restyling that the E36 had in September of the same year, and I bought it with about 195,000 kilometers. It is currently at 220,000.
In times when cars were cars as god commands, model names did not cheat and a “328i” was a series 3 with 2.8 liter engine, atmospheric and of course six-cylinder in line. Today you buy a 330i and it\’s a four-cylinder two-liter turbo. I do not doubt that a gossip of these will turn my car (otherwise normal, considering what it costs), and call me antiquated, but for me one of the great attractions of the BMW was to open the hood and see that Soft metal with six pots, one behind the other, aiming you.
After the presentations, I begin to talk about what this car looks like. To start the line; In my humble opinion, and with permission of the light and graceful E30, the generation E36 is the most beautiful of the whole Series 3: a very successful mix of modern E30 post (which are already seen cars a little old) and The simplicity of lines that still could be seen in the cars of the nineties. An example of that mixture is the front: the four round headlights always, but this time unified inside a glass. This detail, at first somewhat controversial, was a remarkable success. Between these headlights and the typical BMW wide kidneys the result was a modern front and maintaining personality. The short overhangs, especially the front, and those slightly curved fins give the car some musculature. It has presence.
The Touring or family body is little seen in Spain. I do not know if it can be called “familiar”, but if we call it that, it is clear that it is for a family that travels lightly in luggage. The trunk is small and the wheel arches bulge in excess. The only clear advantage you have in this aspect compared to the saloon is the versatility and ease of access.
Going inside, in E36 we also see another mix, but in this case very successful elements and others not so much. The dashboard, on the one hand, is nice, modern and ergonomically well thought out, and used plastics, of very good quality. But the panels of the doors and some materials of the center console, tapestries etc … are very poor for a car of this price (almost 6 million of the old pesetas in 1996, which was what cost then a flat in an average neighborhood) . My car was fitted with standard seats upholstered in a cloth whose design and touch bordered on the crap, and the one on the door panels was peeling off, as was the upholstery on the roof. A common evil in the E36. Now that I have installed a set of leather-upholstered sports seats (a factory option) and the roof is reupholstered, The interior atmosphere is totally different. By the way, these sports seats are much more comfortable than the “normal” ones.
The six-cylinder engine, cheered by the press of the time, is powerful (193 hp), smooth, with good performance (we are talking about a car that makes 0-100 km / h in little more than 7 seconds and lowers the 28 seconds in the kilometer with departure), but curiously I find it the most disappointing part of the car: it is more a subject of excessive expectations, than a mediocre engine, of course. Because stopwatch in hand the car runs and has some consumption that can be said to be low, for the cylinder capacity it has. I just expected something more smoothness from an inline six-cylinder engine, and better sound.
But to compensate for that “disappointment” there is one aspect in which the 328i has exceeded my expectations, and it is the chassis. This was already warned by the same engine press of then and the experiences of other owners, but finding a car so agile, fun, stable and comfortable has been a surprise anyway. The ease with which it gets into the curves, the balance and neutrality with which it behaves inside, and the ease of getting out of them, makes driving this car on mountain roads a lot of fun. I always notice that it\’s a car that gets on my side, that it does not face me and tells me that it\’s lazy to do this or that … sometimes it seems like telepathy. So far I have not faced difficult situations with this car, nor has I “bit my hand”,
On highways it has good aplomb in straight, until the side wind appears, and then I notice it too sensitive. The ride comfort is very good, it surprises in a car that balances little in curve. We\’ll see how it goes when you change the shock absorbers. As for brakes, I see them somewhat short, quite normal thing in cars a few years ago, and I hope to soften it by changing pills. Interestingly, I have noticed that the rear brakes have ventilated discs. Direction and change do not admit reproaches: the management has a very good touch and sensitivity, and the hardness is just for my taste. As for the handling of the change, it is very nice and precise, perhaps the routes are a little long but the lever can move quickly.
In city and interurban routes is a car that gives what they call “driving pleasure”; It can be driven in long marches at very few revolutions without the engine protesting or seeming to be silent. It is possible to reach a roundabout in 4th by going slowly, negotiating it at just over 1000 revolutions per minute and leaving it in that same march with a reasonable acceleration. In general the car “lifts the needle” easily in long gears. If we pass the motorway or motorway is not a bad car to call, the legal limit in 5th gear is about 3000 revolutions per minute, and the insulation is decent considering the age of the car, but can be improved especially by rolling sound and By a curious resonance of the engine that seems to slip through the holes for the feet of the front occupants. And on two-way roads,
As I said at the beginning, it took me almost two years updating this 328i, and I still have some things left, as happens with every “old” car. When I bought it, I was not in the best of the states (I warned mariners: the vast majority of the E36 used for sale are in a regrettable state), so talking about how the car has endured these 21 years is something relative to the deal That has suffered the car. Well, the quality of materials we have already seen is somewhat variable, but despite having some cricket coming from the plastic linings of the trunk, I would say that, except for the upholstery of roof and doors, has endured well. As for reliability, it is my first BMW and my experience does not give much, but the impression I have is that while mechanically the car is hard, Electricity and electronics is rather delicate; Especially at the level of sensors and motor cabling. That is what has always been blamed on Italian cars … sometimes in front of my friends I call my 328i “an Alfa Romeo Made in Germany”.
If we discuss the subject of equipment, we have to remember that the E36 are from the time when the Germans put their cars a watch and an ashtray as standard equipment, and thank you. Well, not so much, but the 16-inch alloy wheels, the rear electric windows, the automatic climate control, the on-board computer, heated sports seats, the sunroof, and anything else my car wears were extras, And quite expensive.
As for safety, only has driver\’s airbag (the passenger was optional, as is the traction control) and ABS; The body of the E36 was rigid and safe in 1990 but it has rained a lot since then and I prefer not to check the passive safety of the car, you just have to see the (mediocre, to say a little) results achieved in the first EuroNCAP test of 1997.
To summarize the issue, the one who buys a 328i Touring (if any) better than not waiting for a large and diaphanous car to load. Neither have a passive safety a day, or consumption of 5 liters to 100. Surely if someone is interested in those qualities will think better of a diesel crossover of those that so much like the staff now. But you can expect a car that, maintaining a certain practicality (because after all four people can travel in it) has a nerve and sports character, an engine that is not asphyxiated by the Euro norms, and a hydraulic direction of the The whole life that does not look like a toy. As long as they let me drive it because less and less to ban these old pots, I will take advantage. (Rafael)