Here’s Why The E90 (E9X) 328i Is The Perfect BMW

The E90 is the fifth generation of the BMW 3 Series lineup. Launched in 2004, it was offered in four body styles – the coupe, convertible, wagon, and sedan to take on the likes of the Mercedes C-Class and the Audi A4. Of course, the E90 we are discussing today is the sedan. The other choices came with their own designations, such as the E91 for the Touring model, E92 for the coupe, and the E93 for the convertible.

The 328i was the entry-level offering in North America with trim-level options that went all the way up to the M3 monster designed to tear up the streets and leave no doubt about who reigns supreme. It came with a brilliant straight-six engine, a beautiful chassis, and everything else that’s made the 3 Series lineup so successful over the years.

So, let’s look at why the 2008 BMW 328i promises to be one of the most perfect BMWs on the used market today, which leaves the question of why you would want to spend the money buying a brand new one at all.

Updated May 30, 2023: Since BMW is one of those high-end car companies, you can always bet to pay a pretty penny for any vehicle with its nameplate. But you can pick some used variations for a decent price that still gives you the best BMW experience. So, instead of writing another piece about the great entry-level E90 328i, we have decided to refresh this article and add a few more reasons why it is the perfect BMW.

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Affordable Way To BMW Ownership

The 2008 BMW 328i was an understated masterpiece, and in 2023, it’s perhaps the best and cheapest way to get your hands on a rear-wheel drive BMW with a six-speed manual transmission. Speaking of prices, BMW 328i models can be had from the used market for just under $5,000 for high-mileage examples, while great examples with fewer miles on the clock can go as high as $10,000. Note that sedans are this model lineup’s most popular body style, so expect to pay slightly more for a 328i Coupe or Wagon.

BMW E90 328i Comes With A Creamy Smooth Inline-Six

a parked 2007 BMW 328i


Passenger side aerial view of a 2007 BMW 328i engine bay

Powering the E90 BMW 328i is an exceptional inline-six engine which BMW calls the N53. This 3.0-liter inline-six naturally aspirated engine debuted with the E90 generation of the 3 Series. The base 328i makes 230 horsepower and 200 pound-feet of torque, and this setup was mated to either a six-speed manual or an optional six-speed automatic. The N53 3.0-liter straight-six is not only a quick and smooth power unit, but it is also known as one of the most reliable BMW engines of all time and a significant step up from the N52 engine it replaced, but in some parts of the United States, the BMW 328i got the N51 engine instead.

The BMW E90 Has An Exceptional Interior

A parked 2007 BMW 328i Convertible Mecum

Drivers side view of the interior of a 2007 BMW 328i Convertible 

BMWs of this period had an excellent reputation for building quality, and the E90 3 Series is no exception to that norm. The 2008 BMW 328i’s interior features a leather interior complimented by walnut wood inserts. However, it was criticized at the time for being too busy with the buttons, but in 2022 it looks pretty clean, and the neatly integrated display looks timeless, though the iDrive hasn’t aged gracefully. Overall, the cabin quality is exemplary, so everything should feel tight even after 14 years. Except for a slightly cramped back seat, the 328i has an exceptional interior.

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First BMW 3 Series To Use iDrive Operating System

A parked 2008 BMW 328i Mecum

Drivers side view of interior of a 2008 BMW 328i

The E90 BMW 328i was the first of the line to use the controversial iDrive Operating System. The system is an excellent idea because drivers need to communicate with the control systems as efficiently as possible as the innovative technology within cars continues to grow. The dial that the iDrive system started out with may not have been one of the best ways to get the idea into a working concept, but offering a digital touchscreen option along with the dial starting in 2016 was a huge step forward on the way to a perfect connection between driver and car. The 328i makes it as simple as possible to adjust, choose, and program every vehicle component you need to deal with without having to pull over onto the side of the road and focus all your attention on a knob and a small screen.

BMW E90 328i Is Quality That Lasts

Gray 2010 BMW 328i xDrive Bring A Trailer 

A front 3/4 shot of a 2010 BMW 328i xDrive parked 

The N53 3.0-liter that powered the 2008 BMW 328i was all-new at the time. Since then, it’s established a reputation for being pretty indestructible, especially in this naturally aspirated guise. The same engine was also available with twin turbos in the 335xi. Even though the N53 inline-six engine produced similar power to the N52 inline-six it replaced, this engine has proven its reliability, and both the ZF-sourced six-speed manual and the GM-sourced six-speed automatic are known to be trouble-free. But if you are looking for one, ensure it has a good service history because neglect can cause a lot of damage and eventually lead to expensive repairs.

Coupe, Wagon, Sedan, and Convertible Body Style For The BMW E90

A parked 2008 BMW E91 328i Wagon Mecum

Front and side view of a BMW E91 329i Wagon

The Bavarians don’t leave things to chance, so when they were making the E90 3 Series, they asked themselves, what if someone wants a coupe or a practical wagon? That’s why the E90 BMW 328i came in all shapes and sizes including the 328i Coupe, the 328i sedan, and 328i Sportwagon, and all of these got the brilliant ZF six-speed manual as standard so no matter what body style you are looking for, there’s an E90 328i for you.

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BMW 328i Has Incredible Handling

Silver 2009 BMW 3 Series BMW

A front 3/4 action shot of a 2009 BMW 3 Series on a twisty road

Gear heads admire the E90 generation’s well-thought-out design and sublime chassis balance. But the best part is you didn’t have to get a thoroughbred E92 M3 to enjoy a beautifully balanced car. Even the base 328i had all the balance you could ask for. Granted, it lacked the advanced telemeter, the trick M suspension, and the brutish V-8 engine, but the combination of RWD, a manual transmission, and a creamy smooth, naturally aspirated engine can still put a smile on any enthusiast’s face. These qualities also make the E90 3 Series an excellent project car with plenty of potential for modifications.

The E90 BMW 328i Is Practical and Refined

Silver 2009 BMW 3 Series BMW

A rear 3/4 shot of a 2009 BMW 3 Series 

Another fact we’d like to state is that the 2008 BMW 328i is probably the best all-around grand tourer you can buy in the $8,000 to $10,000 range. Granted, you could get an 80s Bentley or even an early model Jag XK with a V-8 for that money, but the fact is that they will cost a fortune to run and maintain, whereas the 328i is refined and engaging enough to take on long road trips and at the same time, it’s also relatively cheap to run and far less likely to face significant breakdowns even if you use it as your daily driver.

3 Series Continue To Have The Best Resale

A parked 2011 BMW 328i Mecum

Front and side view of a 2011 BMW 328i 

The 3 Series moniker is renowned worldwide for its quality and reliability and is BMW’s most successful model to date. Since its inception, BMW has sold over 4.5 million units of the 3 Series to date. All these factors are indicators of its popularity and evidence of the solid after-sales support and specialist parts that revolve around this iconic model lineup which has been on sale since 1975. Even after 14 years, the 2008 BMW 328i is a solid option if you love quality and reliability. This is why they continue to demand $10,000 or more for mechanically sound examples, even if they have six-digit readings on the odometer.

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Plenty Of E90 Sales Means Plenty Of Access

Black 2009 BMW 3 Series Bring A Trailer

A front 3/4 shot of a 2009 BMW 3 Series 

When looking for a beginner car in any brand, one of the most important aspects that you look into is sales. This not only lets you know how popular a model was but how many were produced during the years you are interested in. The more cars made, the better chance you will have of finding one in good condition when looking for a used vehicle. If you are considering a new car, the sales amounts will also tell you whether the brand and model you want can be found without paying extra money to special order it. The bottom line is that since over four million BMW 3 series are sold, it will not be hard to find one that fits your needs and fulfills your desires.

Run-Flat Tires Are Used On The BMW E90

Red 2009 BMW 3 Series Bring A Trailer

A side-view studio shot of a 2009 BMW 3 Series 

Something that is no longer awe-inspiring for BMW owners that was jaw-dropping technology at one time is the run-flat tires. The first time it was tried out on a car sold to the public was back in 2003 on the BMW Z4 sports car, but it did not take long for the company to switch most of its lineup over to them, including the BMW 3 Series. This tire makes it unnecessary to carry around a spare, so don’t expect to find one in the trunk. Even though punctured, the tire will continue to carry the car’s weight for up to 50 miles to allow you to find a tire repair shop. No more having to change a tire along the side of the road, hoping no one hits you as they pass by.

E90 Receives IIHS “Good” Marks In Safety

Silver 2009 BMW 3 Series BMW

A rear 3/4 action shot of a 2009 BMW 3 Series 

BMW is one of the brand nameplates that you expect the best from. The exterior needs to be eye appealing and modern. The interior must be comfortable, full of tech, and filled with so much luxury that you don’t want to go home. But, the most crucial aspect of the BMW E90 328i that makes this car one of the most perfect vehicles on the road is its safety features. Just take a quick look at the IIHS testing scores that the 2020 BMW 3 series received (all good and primarily superior ratings), and then maybe you will understand how much the people at BMW care about your safety.

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BMW E90 Was The Last Series To Use Naturally Aspirated Engines

Silver BMW 3 Series BMW

A front 3/4 shot of a 2009 BMW 3 Series 

For many drivers today, the use of turbochargers on smaller displacement engines is something that they have become accustomed to. Unless you are purposely trying to find a muscle car, it is tough to find a naturally-aspirated vehicle these days. That is not to say that there is anything wrong with using smaller engines with turbos attached because they are better on emissions, but when you want some raw power, ask some of the seniors that have driven a classic 1970 Chevrolet Chevelle SS or 1969 Ford Mustang Cobra Jet because nothing replaces big displacement. So, if that is how you think since the BMW E90 was the last series for the company to receive a naturally aspirated engine, it is one of the best options on the market for a BMW with old-school power.


Q: What’s the value of a 2002 BMW?

An old BMW 2002 from the 70s is rising in popularity amongst collectors. If you want a 2002 now, expect to pay anywhere between $25,000 for a high-mileage example while a pristine example can set you back upwards of $60,000.

Q: How many miles will a BMW 328 last?

A well-maintained BMW 328i can last anywhere between 200K to 250K miles without needing an engine rebuild.

Q: Is the BMW 328i engine good?

Yes, the 2008 BMW 328i was powered by the N53 naturally aspirated inline-six engine that’s known for its reliability and smooth power delivery.

Q: What year BMW 328i is best?

The E90 BMW 328i made between 2004 and 2013 is one of the best BMW models to buy used.