Is The E46 BMW 330Ci An Affordable Alternative To The M3?

With its high-revving, naturally-aspirated 3.2-liter straight-six engine, manual transmission and rear-wheel drive, the E46-generation BMW M3 is considered by many the best car to ever wear that fabled badge.

Given this, it’s no surprise that it’s so popular among revheads, young and old. For most young enthusiasts however, it is too expensive, despite dropping massively in value since its launch. So what’s the alternative? Well according to Car Throttle, it comes in the shape of the E46 330Ci.

Adorned with almost identical bodywork to the M3, the 330Ci is significantly cheaper yet capable of providing similar driving thrills to its bigger brother. It too utilizes a straight-six engine (3.0-liters), rear-wheel drive and a manual transmission.

On the spec sheet, the M3 has over 100 hp more than the 330Ci, a touch more torque and can accelerate much faster. But with the 330Ci’s 231 hp and 221 lb-ft, it’s certainly no slouch and can hit 60 mph (96 km/h) in 6.2 seconds.

Is it a real budget alternative to the M3? Watch the video to find out.


  • TheHake

    They sound great!

  • Dennis James

    No, it isn’t, let’s be realistic.

  • David H.

    Uh, no, while the 330ci is a nice car, its a significantly different creature than an M3. I should know, as I sold my 330Ci Vert to buy my current car, an ’03 M3 Vert.

  • Mind Synthetic

    who is this meat head? just horrid

  • I loved the looks of the facelifted 3 series, never understood why the M3 came out with the previous face. The 330i ages better. As for the driving I’m sure fans will say the M3 is better.

    • burritolikethesun

      I would never buy a facelifted, Bangled E46–so if it helps you understand, there are people who feel the exact opposite.

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