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Old 01-02-2013, 12:30 PM   #1 (permalink)
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BMW 3 series? what's possible-mpg?

I've daydreamed for some time about owning an older (90's- early 00's) 3-series. The look is just timeless in my eyes and I LOVE the driving dynamics of a rwd car. However, finding a rwd car that gets good mileage (30+ hwy) seems to be all but impossible. I was wondering if anyone here has some experience with bimmers.

Now, I know all about fueleconomy.gov and fuelly but the posted results on them always seem to be lower than what I achieve on vehicles I own. The postings on “sportier” cars seem to be even worse as they are often times driven in a “sporty” manner.

What can be expected with a 3-series, manual tranny BMW with a conservative driver on a 90% open hwy (no traffic, few stops) commute.

Any suggestons on other used (cheap) rwd, 4+ seat cars that'll get 30+?

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Old 01-02-2013, 12:46 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CAPTAIN CHAOS View Post
What can be expected with a 3-series, manual tranny BMW with a conservative driver on a 90% open hwy (no traffic, few stops) commute.
Can expect more expensive repairs, offsetting most of your MPG gains.

A new rear-wheel drive car available in America, excluding Porsche/Benz etc:

Hyundai Genesis & Equus
Ford Mustang
Chevy Corvette & Camaro
Chrysler 300/Challenger/Charger
Mazda Miata & RX8
Nissan 370Z
Scion FR-S
Cadillac CTS & STS

The Mustang V6s are advertised as 300HP/30MPG. Hyundai Genesis is interesting, I believe a forum member just purchased one, should track him down. Corvette and Camaro, I wouldn't waste your time on new ones, but a 2000ish Camaro is an interesting base due to the swapability of S10 parts and decent aero, plus a 6 speed trans. The Chrysler and Cadillac selections are not what you're looking for. Someone else will have to chime in on the Asian models.



For older cars, these are some highlights of the RWD list:
92-96 Buick Roadmaster/Chev Caprice/Impala
04-08 Chrysler Crossfire
92+ Ford Crown Victoria
92-95 Ford Thunderbird
93-98 Lincoln Mark8
2000-09 Honda S2000
06-09 Pontiac Solstice/Saturn Sky
92-95, 2000-05 Toyota MR2
92-98 Toyota Supra


Hope this helps.
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Old 01-02-2013, 12:54 PM   #3 (permalink)
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My cousin had a mid/late 90s 318ti. He routinely got ~30 with it and even better on the highway. Needless to say it lacks the power of the higher trim models. But, it gives you the beamer feel.

I'll ditto Smurf's more expensive repairs and premium fuel costs negating any cost savings benefits though. It definitely lisn't a cheap vehicle. I remember my cousin doing a brake job on that car and it cost him 2-3X what it would have cost me to replace the brakes on my Paseo.

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Old 01-02-2013, 01:17 PM   #4 (permalink)
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30mpg is obtainable on 3 series easily, though the Above reasons are what have kept me away for so long.

What kind of budget are you looking at? Power train transplants an option, or strictly factory?
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Old 01-02-2013, 02:13 PM   #5 (permalink)
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I’m not looking to save any money, that’s for sure. I expect a BMW, or just about any RWD car, to cost me more. My little Saturn gets 38mpg+ (broke 40 several times) and is probably the cheapest car I’ve ever own from a “total cost of ownership” standpoint. There aren't very many cars on the planet that’ll save me a significant amount over what I currently have. The Saturn was cheap to buy ($900 invested), is cheap to insure, cheap to maintain, great on gas, and parts are among the cheapest out there to keep it going. Plus, it's super easy to work on and seldom needs anything.
I didn't really think about the BMW "premium fuel" penalty though. that's an extra $.20/gal around here.

The BMW is more daydreaming/ planning ahead (I will eventually replace the Saturn) than a serious near-term purchase. My problem is, my Saturn is reliable, economical, and cheap as dirt to drive and maintain but it’s just about the most boring car ever made. I long to drive a RWD car again but my 80mi daily commute means there is a SERIOUS fuel cost penalty to pay for something truly fun.
On top of the RWD requirement I also want:
-Manual tranny- no exceptions. I HATE driving automatics.
-room for 4-5 people (may compromise this one as I have other cars for family hauling)
-cheap (<$5000 used)
-no less than 30mpg hwy.

This has proven to be a difficult set of criteria to meet with a car.

As far as swaps go, although I’m more than capable, I have a 69 Mustang project that is first in line for competition before any major “Daily driver” swaps/mods are done. I just don’t have the time and money to accomplish it all. To top that off, I have my 3rd "bundle of joy" coming mid-next year so time/money will be at even more of a premium.

I have, many times, considered building a 65 Ford Falcon into a daily driver after the Mustang is completed as I have a soft spot for classics. I think a 2.0L from a Ford Focus mated to a T5 (adaptor bellhousings are readily available) would make for a pretty good powertrain. It would propel a 2300lb Falcon with ease and should get 30+ hwy without any effort. However, that’s a MAJOR project that I can’t financially tackle right now. Something more “ready-made” would be preferable.
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Old 01-02-2013, 02:19 PM   #6 (permalink)
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An E36 318 will get you 30 highway, probably better with some subtle mods. If you buy a really good example and keep up on maintenance it shouldn't be too bad. Of course if you're going to buy a BMW you might as well get an M, though, and that will cut into your FE in a big way.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Smurf View Post
For older cars, these are some highlights of the RWD list:
92-96 Buick Roadmaster/Chev Caprice/Impala
04-08 Chrysler Crossfire
92+ Ford Crown Victoria
92-95 Ford Thunderbird
93-98 Lincoln Mark8
If he's looking for good driving dynamics these aren't going to cut it.

An MR2 would be fun but it wouldn't be better than the BMWs, economy wise.

My friend bought a first gen Mazda Miata awhile ago and reports mid-30's MPG on the highway (EPA 21/27). Despite the "girl car" stigma, it is one of the best handling cars you can buy for the price. They mostly escaped the Fast and Furious era so you can still find really nice ones for not a lot of money. They're rather cheap to maintain too.

An S2000 would be a fantastic good time and reliable as well but don't expect MPG.

The Pontiac Solstice (also Saturn Sky) would be a good drive and the manual version is as good on highway FE as the NA Miata. The C5 Vette does almost as good.

A lot of sports cars out there get high 20's highway but you'll be hard pressed to find something that's RWD, 30 MPG and low-maintenance. Put some mods into the above, though, and you'll see some decent numbers.
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Old 01-02-2013, 03:09 PM   #7 (permalink)
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take care of the saturn and get that old mustang running for your rwd fun. too bad you can't get an oil burner bimmer on this side of the pond.
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Old 01-02-2013, 03:21 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CAPTAIN CHAOS View Post
My problem is, my Saturn is reliable, economical, and cheap as dirt to drive and maintain but it’s just about the most boring car ever made. I long to drive a RWD car again but my 80mi daily commute means there is a SERIOUS fuel cost penalty to pay for something truly fun.
Sounds like you've already figured this out.

Be honest: how much difference is a car going to make in a soul-sucking 80 mile daily commute? I think we tend to over-estimate these things once the day-dreaming begins. Consider too that once the novelty wears off, you may find buyer's remorse and end up half-heartedly justifying the purchase to yourself after the fact, all the while paying through the nose vs. the Saturn.

Right tool for the right job! Sounds like you've already figured out what the right tool is.

That said, I will now contribute to this thread.

I realize you asked about highway numbers (but, again, how much will your life be enriched tootling down the highway at the speed limit in a Beemer? Oops, sorry, not contributing!), here are some city numbers that I and another EM member got in his 1997 328i sport manual:

32-36 MPG (US) city with pulse & glide and engine-off coasting, on top of all the other "basic" urban eco-driving techniques. EPA rated for 18 city. Note that highway numbers will be lower.



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Old 01-02-2013, 03:26 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sven7 View Post
.......

My friend bought a first gen Mazda Miata awhile ago and reports mid-30's MPG on the highway (EPA 21/27). Despite the "girl car" stigma, it is one of the best handling cars you can buy for the price. They mostly escaped the Fast and Furious era so you can still find really nice ones for not a lot of money. They're rather cheap to maintain too.

The Miata hasn't escaped my radar. The only real dings it has against it are limited people carrying room, poor EPA rating and nice ones tend to demand a premium ($$$) around here. If mid 30's are possible it may jump straight to the top of my list.

An S2000 would be a fantastic good time and reliable as well but don't expect MPG.

A friend of mine used to have an S2000. We carpool'd together until he moved away. That Honda is VERY cool and he'd average 28-30 in it driving to work. I know I could squeek out a couple more as he didnt utilize coasting at all and tended to have a few bad mpg habits.

........



Quote:
Originally Posted by pete c View Post
take care of the saturn and get that old mustang running for your rwd fun. too bad you can't get any cool oil burner on this side of the pond.
Fixed it for ya.
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Old 01-02-2013, 03:41 PM   #10 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MetroMPG View Post
Sounds like you've already figured this out...
I know logically the Saturn is the car to keep. I go through this every winter though. In the summer I ride my motorcycle almost exclusively as it gets 50mpg, handles like it's glued to the pavement and has the "fun" needle pegged on "euphoric". When I get into the Saturn though and I start driving a car with 5x the weight and 60 less hp than the bike, not to mention it has no enjoyable driving dynamics to speak of, I long for something to add some pizazz to the 2 wasted hours a day I spend on the road. I was a car/driving enthusiast LONG before I was a eco-minded driver (that started somewhere back around $2/gal) so driving (really driving) is kinda in my blood and the Saturn doesn't satisfy.

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