BMW E46 3-Series

The BMW E46 line-up of vehicles is the fourth generation of the 3-Series compact executive cars produced by the German car manufacturing company. The series was produced from the beginning of the year 1998 when it replaced the most successful BMW E36 range of cars and then was surpassed by the BMW 3 Series and called the E90 series in 2005.

The BMW E46’s were assembled in many different countries around the world namely: Leipzig, Germany, Munich, Germany, Regensburg, Germany, Toluca Mexico, Rosslyn, South Africa, Egypt, Kaliningrad, Russia, Shenyang, China, and Jakarta, Indonesia.

The E46 was made available for the world markets in 1998 as a sedan motor car. The next year saw a coupé and touring body style which became available. The following years in 2000 saw the release of a convertible and hatchback models. The E46, just as the E36 experienced great success in all markets and was considered the performance benchmark of its class in most countries worldwide. The year 2002 was the record sale for the E46 with 561,249 auto’s sold worldwide.

The E46 was developed as a 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 Designworks USA. Based on the E36 body shell, the design team put an emphasis on improving aerodynamics and increasing the car's aggressive stance. The E46 was released with a front engineand rear-wheel drive layout with an improved 50/50 weight distribution.

In 2001an M3 version of the E46 was released which was produced with a more powerful engine, improved suspension, limited slip differential and other features that made the M3 a class of its own. Available only in the coupé and convertible body style the E46 M3 was offered with two transmissions packages of which a standard 6-speed manual, or an optional sequential manual gearbox were available to the public.

An emphasis was put on increasing structural rigidity for better handling in corners as well as for safety reasons, rather than increasing power output of which engines only produced 3-4 horsepower more than its 328i predecessors. To counter this small power increase, the body shell of the E46 was claimed by BMW to be almost 70% more rigid than the E36's. Aluminum suspensions were implemented into the stiffened chassis in order to further decrease vehicle mass.

The sport package was available for all E46 cars, excluding the performance sportspack and the M3. The BMW M3 GTR was manufactured in 2001 which has a 32 valve V8 engine that produced 258 kW or 346 bhp and 365 N·m of torque. It accelerated from 0-100 km/h in 4.5 seconds.

The car was given sport seats which provided better support for cornering with adjustable thigh supports. The sports package offered 17-inch wheels that came standard with low profile tyres.


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