If you’re in the market for an E46 BMW, the obvious answer is the E46 M3. That car is largely considered to be the best M3 to own ever made. While the E30 M3 is considered the icon, the very best ever, it’s a bit difficult to live with, as it’s ancient by now and is quite rough and, honestly, slow by today’s standards. The E46 M3 still has semi-modern creature comforts and is really livable everyday. But E46 M3s are a lot of money on the current market. Their sort of cult status has propelled them into values that typically aren’t worth it for most enthusiasts. So what does an enthusiast buy in the E46 range, without spending M3 money? An E46 BMW 330i ZHP.
If you aren’t familiar, the ZHP package essentially made the E46 BMW 330i the best possible non-M 3 Series you could buy at the time. It came with hotter cams, a few extra ponies, better suspension, nicer wheels, better looks and some Alcantara on the inside. Overall, it was just such a sweet handling car and was almost as enjoyable to drive as an M3 at the time, while being more comfortable. Think of its as the BMW M240i of its day. Just better.
This specific owner brought his E46 BMW 330ci ZHP out to Matt Farah and The Smoking Tire to test it out. But his isn’t just a standard 330ci ZHP, as his has been slightly modified. While some owners go crazy and ruin the entire point of the ZHP, this owner seems to have taken its purpose into consideration.
So it has a bit more power, thanks to a supercharger, which gives it about 300 hp to the wheels. That’s about the perfect amount of power for a non-M E46 3 Series. The standard M3 had 333 hp, but that had a stronger gearbox, differential and rear subframe to handle the power. The regular E46 3 Series is really a lot of fun at around 300 hp, without getting too crazy. What’s nice is that you don’t hear the supercharger whine in this car, which would ruin the stock sound of that fantastic I6 engine. It does have a Borla exhaust, which sounds kind of tinny from outside but good from inside.
It’s also sitting on KW coilovers, which I personally am a big fan of. They make the car handle just a bit better than the standard ZHP suspension without compromising the ride comfort. So it still handles bumps really well. The owner says that his friends are always shocked that his car is on coilovers, considering it rides so well. I believe him as that was my first reaction when riding in a friend’s car with KW coilovers.
Overall, this is a cool E46 BMW 330ci ZHP. It’s modified, has a bit more performance and a bit better handling but it doesn’t take away from what it is.