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BMW 3-Series Coupe (1999 - 2006) 330 Cd SE 2d Owner Review

330 Cd SE 2d
BMW 2003 3-Series Coupe

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In their own words

I was looking for an E46 coupe for ages but there seemed to be a lot of dodgy ones around and good ones were fetching big money in 2018 when I purchased a 1 series instead. The 330cd came up through a friend at my local garage, although high mileage and a bit rusty on the arches it was cheap at £1000 with a full MOT, new Brembo brake pads and new rear springs. Over the course of the summer I needed new front shocks with droplinks, propshaft bearing & coupler, otherwise it was trouble free. I deleted the swirl flaps before they got sucked into the engine which did lower the engine power below 1500 rpm, it was soon rectified though by bypassing the EGR valve. Handling wise the car is great in the dry although the standard damping rates are a bit soft at the front on bumpy roads. In the wet care is needed as the traction control will not save you from foolish right foot actions. As winter drew in I disconnected the cold air feed to the airbox which made the car a little more controllable and actually allowed quicker 0 - 60 times as the wheels are less prone to spinning up, with correct gear changes and launching just as the turbo spools 0 - 60 in about 6.5 seconds is possible. I also spaced the rear wheels out 15mm each side which aids straight line traction, helps the traction control kick in on corners before things get too sideways and suits the car without causing any major increase in understeer. When I need new tyres I'm looking to increase the tyre profile from 45 to 50 to not only improve ride comfort but also cut down on how much the wheels track imperfections on the road. I may also drop the front tyre width to 215 as it does aquaplane a lot when it rains. I have added the aftermarket tops to the rear struts to stop mushrooming, I also stripped out almost 35KG from the boot removing the spare wheel, toolkit and interior as well as the odd part from under the bonnet and the centre drivers armrest which affected gear changes. I will also get a front strut brace to stiffen the front and help stop mushrooming of the front struts. Overall this is a great car, it has it's quirks but 200bhp, 400nm torque, an addictive turbo rush, up to 45mpg and the ability to drift the back, smoke the tyres and send you through the windscreen on the brakes while sitting in a plush leather interior with the ride of a limo what more could you want? Stick on some M sport badges, paint some stripes on the grill and put a spoiler on the boot you can pretend it's an M3. In the right hands it would be able to keep up with one. As long as you are prepared to spend a bit replacing bearings etc and remove the swirl flaps they are a great motor that looks the part. However don't get sucked into tuning as they are known to chew through clutches, flywheels, and bearings etc if you do, plus they really need a limited slip diff if you add more power and the traction control will have no chance keeping up. If you need more power than this has to offer you are better off saving for an M3. I would say a newer BMW might be better but the E46 era was the last of the reliable BMW's. The E90 330d has the same engine but with a less sturdy aluminium block and much more temperamental electrics, plus they don't look as good. I have heard of an E46 330d managing 400,000 miles, I doubt any newer BMW will ever make that number on the original engine.
  • How they rated it

  • Reliability: 4 out of 5 4.0
  • Meets Expectations: 4 out of 5 4.0
  • Overall Rating: 5 out of 5 5.0
  • Marcouse recommends this car

About their car

  • Fuel type Diesel
  • When purchased May 2019
  • Condition when bought Used
  • Current Mileage 184,000 miles
  • Average MPG 42 mpg