BMW produced the 323i 3 Series on the E36 platform in 1997 to replace the 2002 coupe and to offer an entry-level luxury sedan. It is part of the 3 series, BMW's best-selling automobile, and the company's first attempt at an affordable model. The model was popular in Europe until 2001, in the United States until 2006, and is still selling in Canada, Australia and South Africa.
Introduced in 1978
The 323i began life earlier in Europe than North America. The 2.3 litre, 143 horsepower model was produced there from 1978 through 1983. From 1984 to 1986, the E30 323i's engine was beefed up to 150 horsepower. From 1992 to 1998, the E36 platform 323i, known as the Dolphin shape, used the Z-axle suspension and dual overhead cam engines. VANOS variable valve timing was introduced in 1993. The 2.4 litre engine was used from 1993 to 1997 in the 323 model, and in 1998, a 2.5 litre model was sold as a 323i rather than the normal 325.
The BMW E46 323i model is the fourth generation of the company's 3-Series compact executive car. The sedan was introduced in 1998 and replaced the E36 model the same year. From 1999 to 2005, the E46 chassis took over in the four-door sedans. Between 1999 and 2001, the 2.5 litre, 170 horsepower engine was sold as a 323i in both Europe and the United States. The touring and coupé models were produced in 1999 with BMW's new steptronic automatic transmissions. The E46 Compact, a three-door hatchback, was revealed in 2001 to be sold in European and Australian markets.
In 2006, the 3 Series was sold on the E90 platform with the new N series of inline engines. These introduced new features such as lightweight magnesium/aluminium construction, and technological innovations like individual cylinder throttles, variable valve timing and dual stage intake timing. The E90's styling was lighter and sleeker than older models. In the United States, BMW replaced the 323i with the 325i and 330i, powered by a 3.0 litre N52 engine. The company made an E90 323i model in Canada with a detuned 2.5 litre gasoline-injected engine.
The 323i Renewed
BMW has a history of offering Canadians a smaller (and less expensive) European-sourced engine in its 3 series than the American models. The 323i sedan, featuring a 200 horsepower, 2.5 litre inline-6 was offered in Canada, Australia and South Africa in 2008. Other options were stripped from the car to give it a £3,250 lower starting price. In 2009, Canada's 323i sedan offers heated seats, automatic climate control and halogen headlights with corona rings, a 2.5 litre inline six-cylinder engine, with a six-speed manual transmission (or six-speed automatic with manual shift mode). Fuel consumption in the 323i is 25mpg (11.1 L/100km) city and 41mpg ( 6.9 L/100km) highway.
The Affordable BMW
Canada's 2009 323i sedan offers dual-zone automatic climate control, speed-sensitive power steering, 16-inch alloy wheels, automatic adaptive headlamps, rain-sensing wipers with heated nozzles, tire pressure monitoring system, automatic adaptive headlamps, self-charging keyless remote, leather-wrapped multifunction steering wheel, adaptive brake lights, 60/40 split-folding rear seats with pass-through and ski bag, illuminated vanity mirrors and heated leatherette seats with six-way manual adjustment. Standard are anti-lock brakes, traction control and stability control that give it the company's famed smooth handling. Its price is £22,685, the lowest of BMW's luxury sedans.
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