BMW cars are renowned for their amazing build quality, outstanding performance, and good looks. The BMW brand is incredibly successful, with vehicles like the BMW M1 and the M3 E46 being loved by enthusiasts all over the world. Indeed, Ultimate Driving Machine is a very apt description of what the brand are capable of producing.
However, sometimes BMW have missed the mark significantly. The cars on this list appear to be the complete opposite of what we know BMW is capable of. Whether it be engine problems, design issues, or confusing technology, there are some shockingly bad BMW cars that are available to be bought used – but we recommend you stay away from them.
9 BMW Z3 1.9i
The BMW Z3 itself often lives in the shadow of the Mazda Miata and the Lotus Elise. Generally it hasn’t appreciated as much as the BMW sports cars like the Z4. The Z3 featured a number of engines, with the 1.9i being the smallest offered. Compared to the bigger 2.8-liter engine, the Z3 1.9i was slow, with a 0-60 mph time of 10.1 seconds and a top speed of 122 mph. This is far off the 140 mph top speed offered in the 2.8-liter engine.
The Z3 1.9i is cheap for a reason, and it is widely because it is the bottom of the lineup. Being a considerable disappointment compared to the later models, many enthusiasts opt for the 2.8 or even 3.0 options. This car is all show and no go and should be avoided at all costs.
8 BMW 7 Series (E65)
Launched in 2001 and with production ending in 2008, the E65 replaced the previous E38 as the flagship BMW. Coming with significant changes in the design of the car, suggesting a shift away from the traditional BMW design language, the E65 was innovative in many ways. Coming with the ‘iDrive’ system and night vision, the car was technologically advanced. Buyers could choose between a V8 or V12 engine, both of which were decent. However, the let down came from unreliability.
The electronic systems were incredibly unreliable, and the trims came apart inside the car (especially the window trims). Also the iDrive system was new and complex, making it incredibly infuriating to use. We wouldn’t recommend buying one of these nowadays because of its reliability issues, especially when the bullet-proof E38 can be bought for even less.
7 BMW M6 (E63)
The E63 M6 car was released in 2005, after a 16-year hiatus of the nameplate. It was incredibly innovative with the S85 V10 engine producing 500 bhp. Top speed was limited to 155 mph, but unrestricted examples could do 190 mph with ease. The car was sleek too (even if many derided the styling) but it was incredibly thirsty to run.
The S85 engine definitely isn’t renowned for its reliability either, and the engine devours rod bearings. Such problems have made the car incredibly unreliable for owners, and while it may be a cheap car to buy, its problems with reliability precede it and spares for a V10 remain sky-high. Indeed, it may have been the fastest car produced by BMW at the time of its release, but now it is a poor reflection of engine problems.
6 BMW X5 E53
The first generation of the BMW X5 launched in 1999, and the car is a mid-size luxury SUV. Being the first SUV ever launched by BMW, it wasn’t horrible off-roading and had reasonable handling and its road presence was massive thanks to the massive optional V8 engine.
However, while the petrol engines were nice, the diesel engine was problematic and the car is generally very expensive to run. It is often listed for sale at a higher price than anyone would expect to pay, and as such it can be a fortune to actually buy and then keep them on the road. By a used 5-Series instead.
5 BMW 325i Coupe (E30)
The BMW E30 lineup is the second generation of the BMW 3-Series. Released in 1982, the car has since become an icon in the car community. In 1985, the 325i Coupe model was released as a replacement for the 323i. It came with a nice 2.5-litre, six-cylinder petrol engine, the same unit later used in the cool Z1.
The main problem with the car was that it was dangerous in the wet because of the semi-training arm rear suspension. While in the dry, the 325i was actually decent to drive and many enthusiasts loved it, when the road was slippery it was susceptible to dangerous snap oversteer which could be quite concerning.
4 BMW M5 (E60)
The BMW M5 E60 was introduced in 2004 and came with the monstrous 5-litre S85 V10 engine. It was capable of 0-60- mph in 4.7 seconds and 190 mph with the speed limiter equipped. it also featured several updates over the regular E60, including unique body panels and cooling vents.
However the big problem was with the S85 engine. This was the same engine used in the E63 and suffered the same reliability issues. The massive thirst of the E60 made the car incredibly costly to run, and it remains as such now. The unreliability of the engine has made the E60 rather undesirable among enthusiasts used, as repair bills are ginormous.
3 BMW 120d (E81)
Released as part of the 1 Series lineup, the BMW 120d was available in many forms, most notably as the three-door hatchback (as the E81). The 120d used an M47 engine until 2007 and an N47 engine after, until 2013. Both engines were turbocharged, and coming in a three-door hatchback, the car was generally lighter than the five-door hatchback (by 22 lbs).
It wasn’t that the car was bad, and build quality overall was good. However, the car is quite small and the N47 diesel engine is notorious for timing chain failures. Over time, this has had the potential to ruin the car completely. As such, we’d stay away from the 120d, especially, later models with the N47 engine.
2 BMW E92 M3
Quite a sophisticated car, the BMW M3 E92 was launched in 2007. Coming with a 4.0-liter V8 engine, the car had a good amount of power as it produced 414 bhp. However, there are problems with reliability and thirst from the engine. The unreliability issues are centered around the poor display system to inform you of low oil, along with the engine being very closely based on the S85, which makes repairs very expensive.
Also, there were issues with the VANOS system which made the car very problematic when trying to enjoy all the power it offered. While the car is fantastic to drive or enthusiasts, its unreliability makes it difficult to rationalise buying one .
1 BMW Isetta
The Isetta is a very different car to the rest of the vehicles on this list. It looks cute, and as a bubble car (also known as a microcar), it is unique. The Italian brand Iso SpA designed the car, before BMW was licensed to build it, with clear Italian designing shining through.
An interesting concept, but the car was a complete let down. It was noisy and cramped, making it very uncomfortable for users. Indeed, it is one of the worst BMW’s we could suggest you ever buy. While it may be cheap, drivers won’t have any comfort driving one of these. It doesn’t even come with a reverse gear.
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