On BMW 4-cylinders and shortened 3-series

Redliner

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So, I have a bit of a dilemma. I am planning on buying an E36 for trackdays, sunday drives,etc. but the 325 and 328 models are almost always equipped with an automatic gearbox. The lower-spec 316s and 318s are usually manual, which I of course prefer given the intended use. Price seems to be pretty much the same, with the 316/318 being 5-10% cheaper.

With that said, how easy are those 4-cylinders to tune/turbocharger/etc?


Second thing: is there a big difference in performance, handling etc between the regular 3-series and the compact version? Wikipedia tells me this

The E36/5 made use of the older semi-trailing arm rear axle, as opposed to the E36's Z-Axle Multi-link suspension, as the trailing arm design was smaller, it allowed for a more lower trunk floor height, fold down rear seats, and an exterior undermounted compact spare tire.
The inherent design of the trailing arm suspension was that it favoured oversteer. Consequently, the BMW Compact received mixed reviews from the automotive press, some claiming the chassis was the most balanced of the E36 range, while others said that the car wandered and darted in a straight line, and was uncomposed in the corners. It is popular with enthusiasts, being the lightest, best handling and least expensive.


How accurate is that?

There are a few 323Tis (manual gearbox) around, with a tempting price...
 
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Redliner

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114 views and no answers? :lol:
 

Rex Luther

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Z3 was based of the compact's platform and although that wasn't all that good, it did spawn the awesome M Clown Car, so the chassis couldn't be all that bad.
 

Redliner

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Yeah, that's as far as my research got me.

What about the 4-cylinders? 140bhp seems plenty to have fun on a track...
 

Der Stig

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Yeah, that's as far as my research got me.

What about the 4-cylinders? 140bhp seems plenty to have fun on a track...
I'd go with a normal E36, personally.

As for the engines, I don't know all the options available in the ROW, but the US offering (318i/ti) was crap. Magnesium heads warp and the engine isn't all that great to start with.
 

Redliner

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Yeah, but I don't want an auto. :(
 

DaBoom

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I'll vote for the 323Ti. :) IMO e36 is too heavy and compacts are at least a bit lighter. Also, the e30 rear axle makes the car a bit more lively, which is a feature I like. And while tendency to oversteer might be more frequent it isn't unpredictable. And that's more important. Also, being much simpler in design it's easier (and cheaper) to get better bushings etc. :) Engine is a great one as well, plenty of low end torque (for NA engine) and pulls nicely when revved while still getting excellent mileage.

If I didn't hate the e36s looks so much I already would have one as DD. :p

Yeah, that's as far as my research got me.

What about the 4-cylinders? 140bhp seems plenty to have fun on a track...
Forgot to answer this. While that 140hp is enough, it is just that, and barely that. It's enough for daily driving, but you'll soon be wishing for more on a track, even as newbie. That said, I did 10.06 on Nordscleife with my 318i(e30), but especially if you have tracks with sharp turns that you'd need to slow down often you'd wish for a bit more power. That said it's a good way to learn to appreciate proper driving lines. :D
 
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Redliner

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I'll vote for the 323Ti. :) IMO e36 is too heavy and compacts are at least a bit lighter. Also, the e30 rear axle makes the car a bit more lively, which is a feature I like. And while tendency to oversteer might be more frequent it isn't unpredictable. And that's more important. Also, being much simpler in design it's easier (and cheaper) to get better bushings etc. :) Engine is a great one as well, plenty of low end torque (for NA engine) and pulls nicely when revved while still getting excellent mileage.

If I didn't hate the e36s looks so much I already would have one as DD. :p



Forgot to answer this. While that 140hp is enough, it is just that, and barely that. It's enough for daily driving, but you'll soon be wishing for more on a track, even as newbie. That said, I did 10.06 on Nordscleife with my 318i(e30), but especially if you have tracks with sharp turns that you'd need to slow down often you'd wish for a bit more power. That said it's a good way to learn to appreciate proper driving lines. :D

Turbocharger? :p

:lol:

Thanks for the input. :)
 

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With the price of power upgrade you might as well get a bigger engine to start with. And get factory spec reliability as well..
 

Hbriz

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My 77kw 4-cylinder E30 was enough to have fun with, the tail would come out very easily and while it wasn't fast it was still enough to drive spiritedly if you revved it. Having said that more power is always better, I'd put in another vote for the 323Ti. A six cylinder in a E36 Compact would have to be fun, I rarely see Compacts other than the 316i.
 

Redliner

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Handling-wise, wouldn't the 318Ti with the 1.9 be a bit better?
The 323 must be a bit nose-heavy, with that big L-6 in the front and 100kg less in the back than the sedan.

I remember Road & Track comparing the 318 and the Golf VR6 and both had nearly identical laptimes, but they favored the 318's handling. In the end, they said the perfect match would be the VR6's engine in the 318's chassis. :lol:
 

DaBoom

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Go for a test drive to see how they feel. E36 was designed to work with i6s, so I doubt there's too much difference (like there was with e21, and to some degree with e30). Also, the straight six soundtrack adds a lot to the experience.. :cool:
 
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