Say the word “E30” to any BWM enthusiast and you’ll see their eyes light up with the thought of the famous M3. While not the first ever generation of 3 Series (that title belongs to the E21-gen), it’s the one that really brought the brand and the model line to the public eye. It was a sensation, as it had near perfect chassis balance, pure handling, good performance and killer reliability. Even still, E30s are all over the road, as they’re reliable, easy to fix and cheap to maintain. But one of the absolute best E30 3 Series was the BMW 325iX, the brand’s first all-wheel drive car.
The BMW 325iX was the beginning of what we know as BMW’s “xDrive” all-wheel drive system. In a nutshell, it uses a viscous coupling differential that sent power to both the front and rear wheels, with about a 60/40 torque split, rear to front. When slip occurred, which made one axle spin faster than the other, the viscous coupling would engage and send more torque to the axle that had more grip. The 325iX also had a limited-slip rear differential, which help distribute power to either individual rear wheel.
All of that made the E30 BMW 325iX surprisingly good in snow and in mud. It was actually far more capable that people might have anticipated back in its day. There are plenty of videos showing off the 325iX tackling snowy roads or muddy trails with surprising ease. It also looks like a ton of fun. Which is why it could be your perfect winter toy.
Being that the E30 BMW 325iX is quite old now, it’s not all that expensive. Sure, some nice models are fetching $10,000 – $15,000, which is a lot of a thirty year old 3 Series. Though, they are relatively rare, at least in America, and highly desirable. But even at the price point, it’s still pretty affordable as a second car or a toy.
When most enthusiasts buy a toy car or weekend car, they usually don’t drive it in the winter. Mostly to keep it safe but also because most project cars are fast fun cars that don’t handle winter months well. An E30 BMW 325iX, though, is so much fun in the snow, it could be used all year long.
Combine its grippy all-wheel drive system with its buttery smooth, 2.5 liter, naturally-aspirated inline-six engine and a five-speed manual and you have a superb recipe for winter-time fun.