5 Reasons Why the E93 BMW 3 Series Is the Best Used Convertible You Can Buy This Summer

In most parts of the world, summer is almost here, and if you're looking to enjoy it behind the wheel of an affordable convertible, look no further than BMW's E93 3 Series.
BMW 3 Series Convertible (E93) 15 photos
Photo: BMW AG
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When the Bavarian manufacturer unveiled the fifth generation of its successful 3 Series back in 2004, many of the brand's enthusiasts were less than thrilled with BMW's new styling choices. Though the E90 sedan and E91 wagon looked more modern than their predecessors, many argued that the models didn't necessarily look better.

However, when it came to the coupe (E92) and convertible (E93) versions, the story was different. As was the case with the previous E46 range, the two-door models came with slightly different front and rear ends. Though the differences were subtle, they made both versions look much better than the four-door variants.

Arguably the coolest body style of this generation was the convertible. Produced from 2006 to 2013, it was available in both standard and high-performance guise, it had larger side windows that improved visibility by up to 38% over its predecessor, it handled impeccably, and best of all, it was the first convertible 3 Series to feature a retractable hardtop.

Ten years after the last one left the factory, the E93 is still an impressive car in more ways than one, and if you're looking for used convertible this summer, here are five reasons why the last open-top 3 Series should top your list.

It's cheap

BMW 3 Series Convertible \(E93\)
Photo: BMW AG
Though it was one of the most expensive convertibles in its range while still in production, its market value has dropped significantly during the last decade.

In the US, the standard six-cylinder model is relatively cheap, with an average price between $6,000 and $15,000 depending on the state, model year, mileage, and optional equipment.

In Europe, a used E93 is available with a wider range of four- or six-cylinder engines, and it's valued at around €5,000 - €15,000.

If you're looking for the high-performance M3 which also comes in convertible form, the value goes up quite a bit, reaching an average of $25,000 (€23,320).

It's well-built, well-equipped, and reliable

BMW 3 Series Convertible \(E93\)
Photo: BMW AG
Since the first 3 Series came out in 1975, the model has been praised for its build quality and reliability. The E93 is no exception, as it comes with sturdy bodywork, uses premium materials, features an ergonomic interior, and comes with generally-reliable powertrains.

Like all versions of the fifth generation, the E93 is equipped with a front suspension setup carried over from the 5, 7, and 8 series, which is comprised of MacPherson struts with aluminum links. The rear suspension is also independent with a multi-link system that features a steel subframe and control arms made from the same material.

Thanks to the suspension design, the convertible still handles impeccably even though it is approximately 400 pounds (181 kg) heavier than the coupe.

In terms of standard equipment, all E93s have a climate control system, heated and power-adjustable front seats, heat-resistant leather upholstery, automatic headlights, rain-sensing wipers, rear parking sensors, run flat tires, and power windows. Most also have an infotainment system, but even if the software has been upgraded from the 2010 facelift onwards, it's obsolete by today's standards, so you're better off switching to an aftermarket Android unit.

Reliability-wise, the engines available are generally solid. Of course, they have weaknesses, and I'll go into those shortly.

You have a wide range of powertrains to choose from

BMW 3 Series Convertible \(E93\)
Photo: BMW AG
Back home in Europe, BMW equipped the E93 with most of the gasoline and diesel engines available on the E9x range. In other parts of the world, the list of available engines was smaller but still comprehensive enough to cover every budget.

Available with either manual or automatic transmission, gasoline engines range from the economical 141-hp, naturally-aspirated, 2.0-liter straight-four found on the 318i to the 414-hp 4.0-liter V8 found in the M3 version. Mid-range engines include the naturally-aspirated N52 and N53 (2.5 to 3.0 liters) straight-sixes which make between 174 hp and 268 hp.

All these engines are generally reliable, but, as I mentioned before, they all have their weaknesses. The four-pot is known for failing injectors, early N52 six-cylinders had issues with the hydraulic valve adjuster, and the turbocharged sixes found in the 335i were plagued by defective high-pressure fuel pumps.

Though they were only available in some markets like Europe, the diesel engines (available with either manual or automatic gearboxes) are a better choice. Not only do they offer more torque and better fuel consumption than similarly-powered gas engines, but they're inherently more reliable.

The entry-level diesel is the N47 turbocharged 2.0-liter inline-four found on the 320d model, which produces between 174 and 184 hp - depending on the model year. For more power, you can go with the larger 3.0-liter N57 six-cylinder that makes between 194 and 282 hp. The only major reliability concern with the diesels is found on pre-2010 320d models, which have tensioner issues that can result in a broken timing chain.

It has a retractable hard top

BMW 3 Series Convertible \(E93\)
Photo: BMW AG
As I mentioned before, the E93 was the first (and last) 3-Series equipped with a retractable, three-piece hardtop. Although it adds considerable weight to the car, it makes it safer and easier to maintain than a soft top. It also makes the E93 the perfect daily driver throughout the year, regardless of weather conditions.

One drawback that you should consider is storage space. The top folds back into the trunk, and although there's still a little room for stuff underneath it, you'll find it hard to access it from the small gap that remains between the top and the trunk floor. Nevertheless, with the top up, the trunk space is surprisingly ample.

It's also worth mentioning that the top's folding mechanism is highly reliable, especially if you constantly clean and lube the seals. Some owners have complained that their top got stuck, but 95% of the time, this is due to a burnt fuse which costs around $10 and can be reasonably easy to replace.

It's one of the most beautiful four-seat convertibles in its price range

BMW 3 Series Convertible \(E93\)
Photo: BMW AG
As that old saying goes, beauty is in the eye of the beholder, yet it's hard to call the E93 ugly.

Compared to its sedan and wagon siblings, it looks more aggressive, nearly-flawlessly proportioned, and it's one of the few hardtop convertibles that looks good with both the top up and down.

Although it celebrated sixteen years since its introduction in March, the E93 has aged incredibly well. It still looks fresh and turns heads these days when two generations of the succeeding 4 Series are also roaming the roads.

In conclusion, the E93 3 Series is a bargain if you're looking for an awesome used convertible. It's an affordable four-seater that you can rely on, and, like the vast majority of BMWs, it delivers an exciting driving experience.
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About the author: Vlad Radu
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Vlad's first car was custom coach built: an exotic he made out of wood, cardboard and a borrowed steering wheel at the age of five. Combining his previous experience in writing and car dealership years, his articles focus in depth on special cars of past and present times.
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