BMW 3 Series (E46)
The BMW E46 is the fourth generation of the 3 Series compact executive cars produced by BMW, produced from 1998 when it succeeded the BMW E36.
The E46 was released in 1998 to worldwide markets in the sedan body style. In 1999, a coupé and touring body style became available to all markets, and the sedan was released in the United States. A convertible and hatchback body style was released in 2000, the latter only for Europe, South Africa, Australia and New Zealand. The E46 experienced enormous success in all markets and was widely considered the performance benchmark of its class. The record selling year for the E46 chassis was 2002, when 561,249 vehicles were sold worldwide. The main competitors during the E46's production run were the Alfa Romeo 156, Audi A4, Infiniti G, Lexus IS, Mercedes-Benz C-Class and the Rover 75/MG ZT.
BMW M GmbH produced a high-performance variant of the E46 chassis, designated the M3. This version had a larger, more powerful engine, sportier suspension, a limited slip differential, and various aesthetic modifications. The M3 was released in 2001 and was available only in the coupé and convertible body style. It was offered with two transmissions; a standard 6-speed manual, or an optional sequential manual gearbox.
The E46 was developed as an evolutionary replacement for the BMW E36 chassis. In late 1995, the general exterior design of the E46 by Erik Goplen was chosen and as a result DesignworksUSA was contracted by BMW to work alongside BMW Group's in-house design team to create the exterior body work in February 1996. Based on the E36 body shell, the design team put an emphasis on improving aerodynamics and increasing the car's aggressive stance. Design patents were filed in Germany on July 16, 1997 and in the US on January 16, 1998.
Flexible electronics design
Since the start of production the entire in-car entertainment system (Radio Function, Navigation System, Television and Telecommunications systems) is based on a very flexible automotive computer system. As a result the E46 models can all be easily upgraded with the newest BMW technologies including BMW's Bluetooth System, the DVD based Navigation system, as well as BMW's CD changers that play MP3s
Powertrain and engine design
An emphasis was put on reducing unsprung weight and increasing structural rigidity rather than increasing power output: the highest displacement model at release, the E46 328, had only 3 horsepower more than the E36 328. To counter this small power increase, the body shell of the E46 was claimed by BMW to be 70% more rigid than the E36's, and aluminum suspension components were used increasingly in order to decrease unsprung weight. In tune with BMW's core values, the E46 was released with a front engined rear-wheel drive layout with 50/50 weight distribution. This balance allows for optimal handling in regards to the drive train layout.
The 316 was introduced in 1999 and has the smallest engine available in the E46, the 1.9 L BMW M43 producing 105 hp (78 kW) and 165 N·m (122 ft·lbf). Like all 4-cylinder models, it was not released into the United States market. In 2001, the 316 was given a smaller, yet more powerful, 1.8 L BMW N42 engine producing 116 hp (87 kW) and 175 N·m (129 ft·lbf).
The 318 was introduced in 1998, the 1.9 L BMW M43. However, it was designated the M43B19TU (technical update) and had dual balancing shafts which increased horsepower to 118 hp (88 kW) and torque to 180 N·m (133 ft·lbf). Along with the 316, the 318 received an updated engine in 2002: the 2.0 L BMW N42. It produced 143 hp (107 kW) and 200 N·m (148 ft·lbf). The 318 was not released into the United States market.
Sold in many places, including the United Kingdom, Germany, Greece, Canada, Australia and Ireland. It was powered by a 2.2-liter in-line six-cylinder engine making 170 hp (127 kW). It was the base model in Romania, Canada, Australia, where it would be succeeded by the 323i.
The 323 was one of the first E46 models available for purchase, 1998 for the sedan (excluding North American markets) and 1999 for the coupe (and sedan in North American markets). It was powered by BMW's 2.5 L M52 engine designated M52TUB25. The M52 engine was previously used in the E36; however, this 2.5 L version added dual VANOS, BMW's mechanically continuous variable valve timing system. This improved low end torque and fuel economy over the M52B25 used in the E36 323. The E46 323, despite having a 2.5L engine, was designated "323" and not "325", to increase the apparent spread between it and the correctly numbered 328 to appeal to BMW enthusiasts.
The 323 ended its run after 2000, when it was then retired to make way for the updated E46 325.
Pre-facelift BMW 328i sedan
The 328 was released alongside the 323 as a high-performance option, still using the BMW M52 engine. The E46 328 and 323 ended their production runs after three model years (1998–2000) when it was succeeded by the 330 and 325, respectively.
The 325 took over from the market position of the 323 and uses the same 2.5 L I6 engine, however the 325's engine has improved double-VANOS and fully dual pipe exhaust system. The European version makes 192 hp (143 kW), while the U.S./Canadian version had a catalytic converter installed which reduces the output to 184 hp (137 kW) .
The 330 succeeded the 328 as the top-performing E46 (excluding the M3), with the M54B30 making 231 PS (170 kW; 228 bhp) at 6500rpm and 214 lb·ft (290 N·m) at 3500 rpm, while the performance package (ZHP) version had an output of 235 bhp (175 kW; 238 PS) at 6800 rpm and 222 lb·ft (301 N·m) at 3500 rpm.
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BMW 3-Series (E46)
Production May 1998–2006
Model years 1999 – 2006
Assembly Leipzig, Germany
Toluca, Mexico (BMW de México)
Rosslyn, South Africa
6th of October City, Egypt
Kaliningrad, Russia (Avtotor)
Shenyang, China (Brilliance)
Jakarta, Indonesia (Gaya Motor) (1999–2004)
Predecessor BMW 3 Series (E36)
Class Compact executive car
Body style 2-door coupé
5-door station wagon
Layout Front engine, rear-wheel drive / All-wheel drive
Engine 1.8L I4 16-valve
2.0L 4 16-valve
2.0L 6 24-valve
2.2L 6 24-valve
2.5L 6 24-valve
2.8L 6 24-valve
3.0L 6 24-valve
3.2L 6 24-valve
4.0L V8 32-valve
2.0L 4 16-valve turbodiesel
2.9L 6 24-valve turbodiesel
3.0L 6 24-valve turbodiesel
Transmission 5-speed manual
6-speed sequential manual
Wheelbase 107.3 in (2,725 mm)
Length Sedan: 176.0 in (4,470 mm)
Wagon: 176.3 in (4,478 mm)
Convertible & Coupe: 176.7 in (4,488 mm)
Width Sedan & Wagon: 68.5 in (1,740 mm)
Convertible & Coupe: 69.2 in (1,758 mm)
Height Sedan: 55.7 in (1,415 mm)
2000-02 325i Wagon: 55.5 in (1,410 mm)
2000-02 325xi Wagon: 56.3 in (1,430 mm)
Convertible: 54.0 in (1,372 mm)
Coupe: 53.9 in (1,369 mm)
xi Sedan: 56.5 in (1,435 mm)
Related BMW E36
Designer(s) Erik Goplen (1995)
Pre-facelift BMW 328i sedan