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I purchased this car 3 years ago, and at the time it was my intention to use it as a high mileage workhorse for my 80 mile round-trip commute. This is my ownership experience of my first BMW.
It was a 2001 model 325ci with 120,000 miles on the clock. I bought the car because with the mileage so high, it was cheap at the time, and I wanted to see if the BMW build quality would stand up to high mileage use.
The interior was still in fairly good condition. The only niggles where the drivers seat side bolster had worn down to threads, and the trim by the doors where back seat passengers had marked on entry/exit.
The bodywork was in good condition, with the few expected parking door dents, and the paint was still good and polishes up well. The only downside was that there was some rust developing in the panel beneath the rear light clusters on both sides.
Interior space is very good considering its a coupe, with good space for 4 people and a big boot. The only downside is if you had to sit behind me when I was driving... as I am six foot tall, and need the seat set back quite a bit, the leg room behind can be at a premium. I've taken 4 away camping for 4 days, but this is also utilising a roof rack to take the camping chairs. The seats are firm, but over time you get used to them. The biggest complement is over long journeys, no one ever complains about any discomfort!
The driving experience... in general, if you drive normally and didn't know about the differences in front-wheel/rear-wheel drive, you would think the handling is fine, cornering with a little body roll (as mine had the standard suspension). Also the brakes are good, with the ABS being substantially better than my last car (a Toyota Celica GT4). As an early model, the steering is fairly light, which took me awhile to get used to.
If you drove it enthusiastically, you will trigger the traction control, which reigns in the power to keep you on the straight and narrow. If you are not used to this, it may be unnerving at first. This happens most often if you are coming out of junction sharpish, or if you exit a roundabout quickly. The car feels like its doing one thing in cornering attitude, but the traction control then kicks in, and the fluidity is stopped. For most people, this saves them from unwanted oversteer moments. For the rare times I turned the traction control off on a private gravel car park, the power oversteer seemed controllable. The 2.5 litre engine revs smoothly as all six cylinder BMW engines do, and performance is pretty good, with good overtaking power available. Acceleration is good but not stunning, but if you wanted that I would get the 3 litre version.
Running costs not including servicing are pretty good considering this is a so called 'Premium' marque. Fuel consumption around town varies from 22mpg to 28mpg. Out of town, if cruising on A roads at 50mph, I would get mid 30s mpg. Motorway speeds and its early 30s mpg. My personal best is 38mpg which was driving as economically as I can! Parts are reasonably priced, and servicing can be done for a reasonable cost if you can find an independent BMW specialist. A new clutch and flywheel from an independent cost me £300 fitted.
Reliability... In the 3 years I've had it (and 40,000 miles), there had been a few niggles. I had to have a new radiator and fan because the car overheated in stop start motorway traffic. This was an expensive failure as the expansion tank and radiator burst as its apparently a known weakness with age. That cost me £500. I also required the climate control fan fixed (blown resistor) as it was on maximum all the time (again a known weakness). I've have also needed new suspension bushes in but this to me is required over time on any car.
As I have changed jobs recently, I do not use the car often now, and the battery would some discharge itself in less than a week. I have not had this fixed as something is drawing current (probably the climate control computer) after you switch off. I just unplug the battery until I need to use the car.
All in all, for such a high mileage car, its had its fair share of work, but no more than any other car I had in the past (with a lot less mileage!). I enjoy driving it and it seems to wear the mileage well. Not overly thirsty considering the performance on tap, and practical enough for my needs.
I would recommend you try one!