Spotted: BMW 320Si

Depending on where you stand appreciation of the E90 BMW 320Si marks you out either as a discerning enthusiast for motorsport-honed homologation specials. Or the biggest sap to ever worship at the altar of 'race on Sunday, sell on Monday' marketing nonsense.

Si was a homologation model for WTCC glory
Si was a homologation model for WTCC glory
For those of us in the former camp the Si is one of the cooler homologation cars ever built and an elegant riposte to those for whom bottom line horsepower figures and mine's bigger than yours displacement seem to be the only arbiter of performance credibility. It could, at a push, even be considered the nearest BMW has ever actually come to building a spiritual successor to the E30 M3 and much closer to that car's core values than anything that's worn that badge since.

The very real danger you could, were it not for those lovely 18-inch Motorsport wheels, lose your treasured Si among the 320d throng crowded outside any given service station on the British motorway network is one of the many cool things about it. Likewise the perverse pleasure in the fact that for all its purist WTCC connections it's not actually that fast. Skins of rice puddings - and, indeed, most hot hatch drivers - have little to fear from its 173hp or 147lb ft of torque. 0-62mph of 8.1 seconds. Nor, in fact, do 320d drivers, who have a couple of tenths and diesel torque in hand.

Carbon cam cover among the upgrades
Carbon cam cover among the upgrades
It's the kind of engine that needs its neck wringing to really make progress - GT86 doubters need not apply - but, happily, it's built for exactly that. In an age of heavy-nosed, low-rev sluggers this zingy, revvy four-cylinder 3 Series is a real revelation and, perhaps, a more relevant performance car than many 'real' M cars. That it had to be built, probably to the dismay of the sales and marketing department, to allow the motorsport division to win at WTCC (Andy Priaulx taking the 2005 crown in the Si) is deeply cool to the more rebellious among us too.

And, oh, the geekery! Like the fact the homologation roots mean a more oversquare configuration (bore up by 1mm, stroke reduced by 2mm), bigger intake and exhaust valves and ditching Valvetronic for cleaner high-rev response. Or that the cylinder head was cast in the same facility as F1 engines. And the carbon cam cover (you don't have that on a 320d...) helps save 10kg and lower the centre of gravity.

Private Le Mans Blue example looks good
Private Le Mans Blue example looks good
Just be responsible about how, with whom and where you deploy such critical information. Women will literally throw themselves at you. As they rush for the door.

Having made the case for why you might want one here's an example of one you could actually buy. There are five currently listed in the classifieds, including two at BMW main dealers for, respectively, £8,995 and £9,850 and with respectable mileages. For the 49K on the clock and rather smart Le Mans blue paintwork this privately offered example for £8,500 looks rather tempting though, even if the fuzzy pics mean you'd probably want to check it out in the metal first. Given an equivalent 'regular' 320i isn't much cheaper and a similar vintage main dealer 320d can cost a couple of grand more there's no excuse not to indulge your inner geek and make like Priaulx.

BMW 320Si (E90)
1,998cc 4-cyl
Transmission: 6-speed manual
Power (hp): 173@7,000rpm
Torque (lb ft): 147@4,250rpm
MPG: 31.7mpg (NEDC combined)
CO2: 223g/km
First registered: 2006
Recorded mileage: 49,700
Price new: £24,975
Yours for: £8,500

See the original advert here.




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Comments (195) Join the discussion on the forum

  • danielj58 13 Nov 2013

    Antj said:
    If its not 6 cylinder its not worth bothering about.

    These were slow, and they didn't feel special when they came out hence there being no real price difference. Guess what the same applies today. You could get a similar vintage 330i for the same money which is a lot more fun and proper race pedigree engine with it's Magnesium head, thats real tech as used on the M5 v10 lump of the same era.
    Similar sort of money puts you in a nice 130i too, arguably a much better drivers car and in my opinion far more special than an Si.

  • stevesingo 30 Oct 2013

    From doing some cross checking on the master cylinder and servo are common accross the E90 range.

    Front and rear calipers and discs are larger on 330i,


    320Si=300mmx24mm 4.06kg
    330i=348mmx30mm 5.45kg

    320Si=300x20 3.3kg
    330i=336x22 4.12kg

    Calipers, carrier and pads...

    320Si = 4.92kg
    330i = 6.118kg

    320Si =3.691kg
    330i =4.817kg


    320Si= 8.98kg
    330i= 11.57kg

    320Si= 6.99kg
    330i= 8.94kg
    Increase mass per corner for 330i brakes on 320Si=

    Front= 2.59kg

    Rear= 1.95kg

    So yeah, probably offset by going to Non RFT!

    FWIW the BMW Performance front is 11.477kg per corner, so very similar in mass to the 330.

  • JB! 30 Oct 2013

    Wouldn't be keeping RFT.

    Interesting to know about the 330 brakes.

  • s m 29 Oct 2013

    stevesingo said:

    The brakes are OK on the road, but no track use for me so can't comment. There is the M Performance brake kit, or retrofit the 330i disc and calipers. The uprights are the same, so no reason why they won't fit. But then a heavier brake will increase unsprung mass which with the 18" wheel and RFT is probably pretty hefty despite the wheel being forged and one of the lighter 18" wheels available for the E9X. Non RFTs for me come tyre time.

    The M Sport suspension is pretty firm and OK on the road, but on the track a firmer set up may be required
    You might find that if you did go for heavier discs and calipers ,but at the same time switched to non- runflats, there might not be much of an overall increase in unsprung weight. The reason I say that is because I saved approx 2kg per corner on my Cooper S by switching from 16" runflats to 16" non-runflats - just tyres, no other change - 8kg weight loss

  • F1GTRUeno 29 Oct 2013

    I'd just buy the wheels.

    I really like the wheels.

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