It’s almost impossible to read a review of a modern BMW 3 Series and not read a reference to one of its great predecessors. The 3er most commonly referenced, and frankly idolized, is the E30-generation. The E30 isn’t the original 3 Series but it’s easily the most beloved. Mostly because of the E30 M3, which is often described as the finest driving instrument BMW has ever made, but also because even just the standard E30 3er drove with such joy that even humble enthusiasts could experience it. But is it really as good as we remember, really as good as the myth suggests? Car Magazine recently found out.

This new review from Car Magazine is a time-warp into the past, as editor Curtis Moldrich recently drove a 1989 BMW 320i Coupe (he calls it a saloon). They say don’t meet your heroes because you’ll often be disappointed. But Moldrich has been looking to buy an E30 3 Series for some time now and after driving one, he isn’t disappointed.

The champagne-colored E30 320i is a humble car, one with a tiny-by-today’s-standards 2.0 liter naturally-aspirated inline-six engine. With only 127 hp and 121 lb-ft of torque, said engine is positively puny in today’s money. However, with barely any weight to lug around, it’s said to feel far more sprightly than its numbers would suggest. BMW claimed 0-60 mph in around 10 seconds but it likely feels quicker than that.

But where the E30 3 Series really comes into its own is when the road gets twisty. Its hydraulically-assisted steering, nimble chassis and incredible outward visibility make it an absolute joy to drive. It’s the sort of old-school, communicative driving that we all claim we want back. According to this review, the E30 3er is everything we wish BMW still was and everything great that we remember about the brand.

[Source: Car Magazine]