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General E46 Forum
This is the place to get answers, opinions and everything you need related to your E46 (sedan, coupe, convertible and wagon) BMW!

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Old 09-21-2009, 03:14 PM   #1
MehMan
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E46 as a grand tourer?

Hello everybody! I've tried to search for a similar topic but couldn't find one that would answer my questions.

I've been eyeing a preFL(I think it looks better and is cheaper) E46 as a replacement for my VW Polo(oh yeah, I'm on the other side of the Atlantic) since it's been a real disapointment in several aspects(slow, loud, rather uncomfortable, slow, no boot, zero practicality). What I had in mind was a 323i, but due to the subframe horror stories I think I'll pass on that and set my sights on a later 320i(170 bhp I think is enough and the insurance doesn't rip me apart). But one of the things that I really really want is ride comfort. I don't do many miles on a daily basis(30-50 max) but once in a while I like to go road tripping, and do a 1000 miles in a day. And for those occasions I need some comfort.

Is the E46 comfortable enough to do this? What are your expiriences? I'd love to hear them. Does the E46 preform well as a grand tourer and if yes, with what kind of seats? Or should be heading more in the E39 direction(nice car, but a bit too big and I don't really like it)?

I test drove a 323i, it had low profile tyres on 18" rims on standard suspenion and on a rough road that made my small hatchback wallow around, I was being thrown around in the BMW. It had standard cloth seats and they didn't provide any grip at all, so it wasn't the best of rides. It could've been just down to the silly tyres, but I'm not sure, and it didn't fill me with confidence...
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Old 09-21-2009, 03:40 PM   #2
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I like the e46 alot and i do 500 mile+ trips and at least about 600 miles a week. I have a 325, and by far it is not the fastest but all around it is the perfect car for me. I have the sport seats and i am very impressed with how comfortable i am after awhile, just as long as i have a good seat postion which sometimes is hard to find. Suspension can be alittle rough at time though.

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Old 09-21-2009, 03:45 PM   #3
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Get a 5 series if you are going to be doing that many miles. I love the drive of e46 and am putting in about 500 miles a week. I love the drive but is not the most comfortable of all.

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Old 09-21-2009, 03:46 PM   #4
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The seats are nice but the suspension is a bit stiff to be considered appropriate for a grand touring car, imho.
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Old 09-21-2009, 03:48 PM   #5
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I think my car's comfortable but not for 1000 miles. 500 miles in a day really gets my back hurting so I couldn't imagine doing 1000.
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Old 09-21-2009, 03:59 PM   #6
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I'll take 10-14 hour trips in my car occasionally. If you get an e46 with the 15 or 16" rims, and standard suspension then you should be fine. I can cruise at 80mph and feel totally fine for hours. The lower profile tires you get, and sport suspension will make any car a little harder on long trips.

You should get great gas mileage with the 320i too, which is a plus on long trips. I'll average 32 mpg on the highway going about 70 mph in my 323i(5-speed trans)

I've kept debating getting some BBS Anthracite CKs and a Hotchkis suspension kit with Bilstein struts, but I really don't want to kill the long-distance driveability of my car. Oh well
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Old 09-21-2009, 07:48 PM   #7
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I've heard that with the standard alloys and tyres the ride shouldn't be too bad, but what about the seats?
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Old 09-21-2009, 07:57 PM   #8
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Suspension really isn't all that bad in my opinion, it is well damped, and the seats are good too but only if you got the sports with lumbar, the regular seats can hurt your back after 2 hours or so.

The worst I can think of is that if the car has wide tires, they'll pull you left and right following the shape of the road. So you need to concentrate just to stay straight on the highway if it's not completely flat.
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Old 09-21-2009, 11:46 PM   #9
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Sport seats are by far the best for long trips. I've driven 9hours in one sitting [small stops here and there] and I was super fresh coming out of the car, no aches or pains. The stiff suspension will give you trouble over bad pavement... but if you are on a decent highway you should be fine.

Another issue is temperature.... If you have summer tires [sport suspension stock equipment] and are driving in warm/hot weather [85+deg] then the ride will be downright cushy. But take the summer tires out of their natural happy habitat of warm weather and the ride becomes less pleasant.
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Old 09-21-2009, 11:52 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by cancell View Post
I'll take 10-14 hour trips in my car occasionally. If you get an e46 with the 15 or 16" rims, and standard suspension then you should be fine. I can cruise at 80mph and feel totally fine for hours. The lower profile tires you get, and sport suspension will make any car a little harder on long trips.

You should get great gas mileage with the 320i too, which is a plus on long trips. I'll average 32 mpg on the highway going about 70 mph in my 323i(5-speed trans)

I've kept debating getting some BBS Anthracite CKs and a Hotchkis suspension kit with Bilstein struts, but I really don't want to kill the long-distance driveability of my car. Oh well
Last month I drove around 12 hours, on my stock (sport) suspension, 17" wheels, and non-sport seats. It wasn't the most comfortable I've ever been, but it definitely wasn't too bad.
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Old 09-22-2009, 12:04 AM   #11
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OP, it sounds like you want a Cadillac or a Lincoln. I have a coupe with sport package and it is fine on long trips. The seats are very supportive and I have no problems. An E46 can serve as a grand tourer as well as any other car, and quite a bit better than a lot of cars with GT in their names. A certain Ford product immediately comes to mind.
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Old 09-22-2009, 10:59 AM   #12
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I drove 9 hours from San Francisco to Las Vegas with stock sport suspension and sport seat, I loved the ride and absolutely feel pretty comfortable and mostly fun.
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Old 09-22-2009, 11:04 AM   #13
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Old 09-22-2009, 11:09 AM   #14
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Honestly, take out the grand in grand tourer and I think you've got an ok description. But, that's assuming you leave the car bone stock. Throw on some large rims with thin tires and a sporty suspension system and you're left with a ride too harsh to classify the car as a tourer.
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Old 09-22-2009, 11:16 AM   #15
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Wouldn't call it grand

, but I love my 323...when it works. Get the cold weather package with heated seats and you'll set the morning alarm early just to drive it. I wish I had a longer commute.
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