Buy them before we do: Used picks for July 1

99 bmw m3 cabriolet e46 above front quarter

E46 M3s haven’t yet reached stratospheric prices

The E46-generation BMW M3 is our top used buy this week

Inspired by M’s 50th anniversary, we’ve been on the hunt for a used BMW M3.

Not the original, E30-gen M3, which has become so revered that prices can range anywhere from £30,000 up to the heights of £100,000. Nor is it the latest generation, the G80, which first went on sale in 2020 and will cost you from £65,000 on the used market.

Instead, we’re looking at spending a fraction of that. Our choice is the E46-gen M3, produced from 2000 to 2006, which to this day remains the most successful M car ever, with more than 85,000 sales globally.

Under the bonnet sits a 3.2-litre six-cylinder engine producing 343bhp, outgunning that of the previous M3 by a hefty 65bhp.

As a result, the car can whizz from 0-62mph in 5.1sec, with power managed by either a SMG-II six-speed automatic gearbox or a Getrag six-speed manual. Top speed is electronically pegged at 155mph.

You also get the choice of a coupé or a soft-top convertible bodystyle. The coupé was significantly more popular, selling 56,133 units, compared with 29,633, but both are great choices.

We loved this M3 so much when it was new that we described its S54 straight six as “one of BMW’s best engines of any kind” and its chassis as “superb”. Its versatility also impressed us, because it was easy to live with yet “outstanding to drive”.

Not convinced? Then perhaps second-hand prices will sway you. This generation of M3 will today cost you from just over £10,000 for cars with the highest mileage. You can’t even get a new Dacia Sandero for that any more.

Be warned, though, that these cheaper cars may have been ragged to the ends of the earth and back, so it’s important to seek out a car with a complete service history.

We found an M3 Convertible with a hard top, 99,000 miles on the clock and a full service history for £15,950. That’s not bad for what we once described as the very best M3 of them all “by some distance”.

Verdict: Take it

Nissan Juke Nismo

£9399: The Nissan GTR had previously shown Nissan’s performance expertise, but the heated-up Nissan Juke fell well short, offering low grip and poor agility. This 2013 example has driven 74,000 miles, and there are more dynamic cars out there for comparable money, such as a Ford Fiesta ST or Renault Clio RS 200.

Verdict: Leave it

Caterham Seven Supersport

£21,750: Fancy some hillclimbing this summer? If so, here’s one used car you should definitely consider: a Seven Supersport, with a 1.6-litre engine and 140bhp on tap. Our find is a 2015 car with 8000 miles on the clock and a full service history. “One of the best packages Caterham has ever come up with,” we said when it arrived in 2011.

Verdict: Take it

Alfa Romeo 159 2.4 JTDM

£3195: The average driver will spend a total of four years of their lives in their car. A nice cabin is vital, then, and while this Alfa Romeo looks great from the outside, it’s stuck with scratchy, shoddy and flimsy plastics inside. Throw in a coarse, unrefined diesel engine like the 2.4-litre unit seen in this example and it’s one to avoid.

Verdict: Leave it

Source: Autocar

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