BMW 2002 tii, 323i E21 and E30 325e in the test: The sporty middle class of BMW

The 02 series strengthened the sporting reputation of BMW, its successor - the 3 series - developed rapidly the quintessence of the brand. We go with 2002 tii, 323i (E21) and 325e (E30) to exit. Driving pleasure? Oh yeah.

14/11/2016 Michael Schröder 5 comments Powered by

No, this BMW trio must, of course, no longer prove. The 2002 does not tii nor his immediate successor, a 323i of the first 3 series E21. Even a 325e Series E30 should today call every right as a brand ambassador, because he also has all BMW virtues, they quite the sense of a compact sport sedan (we remember only the first M3!) Even has refined and cultured although many just this model mistakenly continue to dismiss as suburban Proll box.

BMW 2002 tii engine Photo: Lena Willgalis
The 2002 tii is, so to speak, of the 70 M3.

I beg your pardon? You still have doubts about the potential of a classic E30? Then try again, a non-heated or non-tinkered BMW 325i or just to get a really good 318is. The search could now take longer.

But will our trio is ready and in Upper Swabia for an exit now from the oldest in the field, that golden yellow BMW 2002 tii headed back. The car of Ralf Kluge from Reutlingen acts as if it were only yesterday and not been delivered in the year 1971st The bright color is awarded the clearly drawn, completely unadorned bodywork, softens slightly the strict objectivity of oriented functionality shape with their large windows and narrow roof pillars. Not a gram too much plate, no other ballast. Optical goes like a 02 by a prime example of a sporty compact car.

2002 tii: Ideal for sporty drivers

1966 BMW presented this model below the four years earlier introduced a new class, but right as 1600 with then very proud 85 hp. When in 1968 introduced in 2002, the type designation "02" will be the first time officially used as a boundary for four-door 2000th The car with the now 100 hp two-liter engine (M10) is becoming a bestseller for ambitious drivers who however, for even more power and - finally yearn also a standard tachometer - please. Both BMW delivers three months later (Turismo Internazionale) with the ti of 2002. Two twin carburettor now provide 120 horsepower - but also for such high emissions that regulatory approval in the United States is not possible.

"The response from BMW's from 1971 2002 tii" explains Ralf Kluge and opens the hood of his 02. The view is of a mechanical ball Fischer-injection system (the second "i" stands for "injection") that not only the stringent emission standards met in the new world, but also push the performance of the four-cylinder to 130 hp. In order for the 02 plays of his time in the league of sports cars.

impressive handling characteristics

Owner Kluge leaves me behind the wheel, despite the then optional Recaro sport seats (extra cost 543.90 dollars) you have a strikingly high seating position in this light-filled cabin. Three round instruments (of course with tachometer) as a closed cockpit unit, a short shift lever for the extra charge, five-speed gearbox (946.83 dollars) and a perforated three-spoke Nardi sports steering wheel (optional BMW accessories instead of the standard leather steering wheel) provide already in the state of the message that the imminent exit will be fun.

Out on a winding country road where the 02 feels the tii abbreviation annexed expected home. The steering is smooth and quite precisely, and from about 3,000 rpm urges the two-liter four-cylinder seriously to dance, offers especially in the aisles two and three by its optical rotation (that I still frequently than necessary change the conductor course, is due to this short, stationary gear lever).

BMW 323i interior Photo: Lena Willgalis
The E21 was the first real 3. He was comfortable and offered more space than the 02 series.

One senses that the time very advanced and well-tuned suspension could use a few more horsepower effortlessly, and realizes gradually the big stimulus that emanates from the 02 series. The car at the time provides everything for which long sports fans - and bring the Munich carmaker after the proclamation of separation again a record result: about 116,000 copies alone in 1974, of which just over half as two liters. Finally, one can not know what is coming, yes.

The style remains

New is unveiled in 1975 and is of course the success story of the continuing 02 and on top of that offer more space and comfort, with an unchanged agility. but stylistically leaves chief designer Paul Bracq much the same, for example, the proportions (long hood, short rear end) or the kink in the rear roof pillars. Of course, the distinctive kidney grille has remained, and BMW now speaks for the first time of the 3-series, which is called internally E21. However, only the M10 four-cylinder from the 02 is under the hood modeled initially offered, and with a maximum of 109 hp 320i comes at least within the sports fraction only partially joy.

In 1977 BMW replaced the two-liter engine with a new straight-six OHC engine (M20) with belt, cast crankshaft and 122 hp - and pushes the same also a 2.3-liter version of which, however, do not like the smaller version carries a Solex carburetor, but is provided with a Bosch K Jetronic. "With 143 hp you want to bring the slightly battered sporting image back on track," said Daniel Falkenberg and handed me the keys to his maroon red BMW 323i, the top-3 of the E21 series, evident externally from the two exhaust tailpipes.

M20 engine sounds like eight instead of six-cylinder

Other abnormalities: The seating position falls a trace lower than in 02, the speedometer and tachometer are grown, and the center console is slightly turned to the driver. With built in 1981 this BMW 3 Series has already received the first detailed improvements, the slider for heating and ventilation have been replaced by rotary control, for example. The generous feeling of space is, however, still (no wonder with twelve centimeters longer length), as well as the large windows and the thin roof pillars were retained.

The M20 six-cylinder immediately falls into a warm, low pitched idling with the sound from the two tailpipes is somewhat similar to that of an eight-cylinder engine. Finally under way, the machine from a standing start is distinguished by its smooth run to properly tackling issues from about 3,500 trips. Revving and smooth running inspire at every maneuver, yes, this splendid six-cylinder is a big hit, it fits perfectly in this agile sports sedan that flies playful (and sometimes slightly oversteer) on the asphalt. You forgive the E21 and his urge to always tilt in curves a little more to the side, as is the case in 02 - tribute to a more comfortable suspension design.

Only for the optional automatic transmission in the BMW E21 Daniel Falkenberg is Sport drivers would probably not decided at the end, but it does its job perfectly. "I am so little less sporty than go with a switch," says the owner.

BMW 325e Front Photo: Lena Willgalis
The E30 is the last 3 with classic round headlights.

Difficult legacy for the E30

It is certainly one of the most challenging tasks in the automotive industry, a bestseller - we are talking of selling at least 1.3 million copies of the series E21 - to be replaced by an even better model. But at BMW you are sure to have continued to set the right ingredients. As the Group presents the 1982 3 series E30, the new car leaves a dynamic and equally balanced impression: the more rounded nose flatter and the tail slightly higher, while the body also has the essential features of its predecessor. The message of BMW is clearly thus: the 3 Series with all their properties for the sporting image of the brand. In addition to the four cylinders is found this time with the 320i from the beginning a 125-hp six-cylinder in the program in 1985 followed by the 171-hp BMW 325i.

325e: Athletic despite saving motor

The alpine white BMW 325e, which also was owned by Daniel Falkenberg, is the 1985 model presented with the 2.7-liter Eta-saving motor. Moment - a saving motor with relatively tame 122 hp? Have suddenly too much to drink wheat beer at BMW and forget the thing about the sport? Owner Falkenberg dismisses, the car would have run well. In any case, the six is ​​quieter than the E21, although it is known the M20 aggregate. After starting barely running noise in the redesigned and obviously very well-insulated cabin penetrate. The cockpit landscape is smoothed, the instruments of modern and even more identifiable. With this clear language makes the E30 his crew even easier than before to focus on the essentials, on driving.

First course, forgiveness, selector lever to "D" because it also is an automatic model. Like a bull in this series of six speeds up 3 from the state up to highway speed. Okay, with a switch 100 would already pending at 10.5 seconds speed, but twelve seconds are not a bad value. "I just like this combination of torque and smoothness", Falkenberg gushes over the diesel-like characteristics of the eta-six-cylinder engine. Still playful, yet inspiring: It is a poem like this E30 flits immediately afterwards through the corners. His extraordinary, always easily controllable handling - simply a class apart.


As the owner of an E30 Convertible I am biased, I like the dynamic nature of this series. However, I would not decide for an ETA, but for a rotating joyful 325i. Or equal to the 323i Series E21. Money does not matter? Then guarantees would this golden 02 tii in my garage.