Exploring the BMW E30 competitors – If you’re a car enthusiast or simply someone who appreciates the classics, chances are you’ve heard of the iconic BMW E30.
This legendary vehicle, produced from the late 1980s to 1994, has left an indelible mark on the automotive world.
Its rear-wheel-drive setup, coupled with a 5-speed manual transmission, made it a favorite among the young working class of its era. But what if you’re in the market for something similar?
In this comprehensive guide, we’re going to take you on a journey to discover cars that are similar to the iconic BMW E30.
Whether you’re seeking a car that captures the essence of the E30’s driving experience or simply looking for alternatives that fit your budget and style, we’ve got you covered.
10 Best Cars Similar to BMW E30: Exploring Alternatives and Competitors
Let’s begin by revisiting some of the key specifications that made the BMW E30 a standout performer in its day.
Under the hood, it boasts a 2693cc/2.7 L engine with six cylinders, each housing two valves. At 3200rpm, this remarkable engine delivers an impressive torque of 170 lb.-ft.
Push it a bit harder to 4250rpm, and you’ll experience a horsepower surge of 122. The BMW E30 could reach a maximum speed of 193-195 km/h and sprint from 0 to 60 mph in a respectable 9.3-9.5 seconds.
Fuel economy was another strong suit, averaging 10.95 liters per 100 kilometers with its petrol-powered engine capable of holding up to 55 liters of fuel.
In terms of dimensions, the BMW E30 measures 1645 mm in width, and 4325 mm in length, and stands at a height of 1380 mm.
If you’re planning to load up the roof rack, keep it under 70 kg, and note that the cargo capacity of the E30 is 460 kg.
It’s not just a sports car; it can also accommodate up to five passengers, making it a practical choice for those seeking both style and functionality.
Now, let’s delve into the exciting world of cars that share similarities with the beloved BMW E30. Whether you’re on a budget or simply looking for a fresh take on that classic feel, you’re in for a treat.
While the E30 has become a vintage gem, its spirit lives on in various forms.
1. Audi 4000 Quattro: A Nostalgic Classic
The 1980s witnessed the emergence of vehicles with striking resemblances to the BMW E30, and the Audi 4000 Quattro is a prime example. While the last version rolled off the production line in 1987, it left an enduring legacy.
The Audi 4000 Quattro boasts an array of factory settings that could rival the E30’s appeal, including a sunroof, leather upholstery, 14-inch wheels, heated front seats, a cassette player, and air conditioning.
What’s more, the sedan version features a unique exterior designed by none other than Giorgetto Giugiaro himself.
Audi offered both front-wheel drive (FWD) and four-wheel drive (4WD) versions of this classic. Under the hood, you’ll find a 2.2-liter 5-cylinder engine delivering 126 lb-ft of torque and 115 horsepower.
The manual transmission complements its four-wheel drivetrain, providing a sporty and engaging driving experience.
Additional features include power-operated locks and windows, a rear spoiler, and locking rear and front differentials. Pricing-wise, the Audi 4000 Quattro presents an enticing proposition.
With a base price of $15,875, you can often find one at an average retail price of $3,250, with the highest-quality models still accessible at $4,475.
If you’re on the hunt for a car like the BMW E30, this Audi classic could be a strong contender.
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2. AMC Eagle: A Spacious Alternative
If you’re looking to replace your BMW E30 with a vehicle offering more interior space, the AMC Eagle might be your ideal choice.
Produced until 1987, it’s sometimes referred to as the “Eagle wagon.” With an average price of $13,037, it presents an attractive option.
Under the hood, the AMC Eagle boasts a 5-speed manual transmission and an inline 6-cylinder engine positioned longitudinally at the front.
It runs on petrol and features a Carburetor 2-barrel fuel system. Equipped with 12 valves and a compression ratio of 9:2, it delivers a robust 210 lb-ft of torque at 1,800 rpm and 112 horsepower at 32,000 rpm.
In city driving conditions, you can expect a fuel consumption rate of 14 mpg, while on the highway (in the United States), it rates at 11 mpg.
On average, covering 100 kilometers with the AMC Eagle requires 18 liters of fuel, thanks to its larger 5-liter capacity compared to its competitors.
One of the AMC Eagle’s distinctive features lies in its body measurements: a wheelbase of 27,760 mm, a width of 18,360 mm, a length of 45,950 mm, and a height of 13,820 mm.
It’s equipped with power-assisted recirculating ball-type steering and offers a generous boot capacity of 57 cu-ft.
Due to its length, it boasts a larger turning radius of 37.1 feet. With a curb weight of 1552 kilograms and a weight-power output ratio of 13.6 kg/hp, it combines performance and practicality in a unique way.
3. BMW 320si: A Limited Edition Gem
The BMW 320si stands as a captivating embodiment of automotive excellence, blending precision engineering with a touch of sportiness and luxury.
This extraordinary vehicle, crafted by the prestigious German automaker Bayerische Motoren Werke AG (BMW), holds a special place in the hearts of car enthusiasts and discerning drivers.
Despite its 2.0-liter, 4-cylinder engine, the BMW 320si packs a punch with 175 horsepower (a whopping 275 horsepower in full race spec).
Notably, it lacks Valvetronic, which some may consider a limitation, but it’s a design choice that enhances the engine’s revving and overall performance capabilities.
What sets the 320si apart is that its engine is hand-built in the United Kingdom at the same BMW engine plant responsible for the engines powering the BMW-Sauber Formula One program.
The sedan version of the 320si comes exclusively with a manual transmission, adding to its allure.
To enhance its sporty image, the sedan is equipped with the then-new M Sport body kit and custom 18-inch Style 216 wheels, borrowed directly from its racing counterpart.
The most significant difference between the race-spec 320Si and the road-going version is the widebody kit featured on the former, along with the distinctive racing livery adorning its sides.
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4. Ford Sierra: A Worthy Contender
Much like the BMW E30, the production of the Ford Sierra nearly came to a close at around the same time, with the last Ford Sierra rolling off the assembly line in December 1992.
The Ford Sierra had quite a journey in the market, offering a range of engine options. It featured both a SOHC Ford Pinto engine with displacements of 1.3, 1.6, 1.8, and 2.0 liters and an OHC V6 engine with 2.9, 2.8, 2.3, and 2.0-liter displacements.
The 1.6-liter Ford Sierra was particularly popular, featuring an L4-cylinder engine with a 1597 cm3 displacement.
This engine produced 80 horsepower at 5600 rpm and 88 lb-ft of torque at 3500 rpm. It ran on gasoline, had a fuel capacity of 60.2 liters, and utilized a monoprint injection fuel system.
When brand new, it could accelerate from 0-62 mph in 14.1 seconds, with an average recorded speed of 167 kilometers per hour.
Like the BMW E30, it featured a 5-speed manual gearbox and powered the rear wheels. Covering 100 kilometers in ideal conditions required 8.2 liters of fuel, emitting 195 grams of CO2 per kilometer traveled.
Unfortunately, you won’t find new Ford Sierras on the market today. However, you can still acquire a used one at an average price of $17,321, making it a worthy alternative for those in search of cars similar to the BMW E30.
5. Maserati Biturbo: A Touch of Italian Excellence
For those seeking an automotive experience reminiscent of the BMW E30, the Maserati Biturbo offers an enticing option.
Produced during the same era when the E30 was in the spotlight, the Biturbo provided formidable competition for other models, including the Bora and Merak.
The Maserati Biturbo’s initial design was a product of Pierangelo Andreani, a stylist for DeTomaso.
When it first graced showrooms, it turned heads with its four-seat capacity and generous interior space. The car featured elegant velour leather-buckled seats, adding to its allure.
Under the hood, the Biturbo housed a 2.0-liter V6 engine, which received its power from twin turbochargers.
Notably, this was one of the first vehicles to utilize a twin-turbocharged engine. Each cylinder featured three valves, with later versions incorporating an intercooler.
The 2.0-liter Biturbo produced 180 bhp at 6,000 rpm and a comfortable 182 lb-ft of torque at 4,400 rpm.
Export versions of the car boasted a 2.5-liter engine generating 220 lb-ft at 3,000 rpm and 192 bhp at 5,500 rpm.
This impressive power translated into swift acceleration, with the 2.0-liter Biturbo capable of reaching 60 miles per hour in just 6.5 seconds during the 1980s.
6. Nissan 180SX: A Japanese Drift Icon
The Nissan 180SX, born from the revered S13 generation, has etched its name into the annals of automotive history.
This classic sports car, introduced in the late 1980s, has earned its place as an icon among Japanese sports cars, known for its sleek design, agile handling, and potent performance.
Under the hood of the 180SX often lies a turbocharged engine that delivers exhilarating acceleration.
Its rear-wheel-drive platform and nimble chassis make it a favorite among drifters and driving enthusiasts alike.
The balance of power and precision in the 180SX has consistently impressed drivers around the world.
Over the years, the 180SX has undergone various iterations and special editions, each adding its own flavor to this iconic sports car.
Its timeless design, featuring pop-up headlights and a distinctive rear hatch, continues to turn heads on streets and racetracks.
Whether you’re drawn to it for its racing pedigree, its potential for modification, or simply its iconic style, the Nissan 180SX remains a beloved symbol of automotive culture and Nissan’s commitment to performance and innovation.
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7. Peugeot 205 GTi: The French Pocket Rocket
The Peugeot 205 GTi is a French gem that caught the attention of driving enthusiasts during its prime.
Sporting a 4-cylinder, 2-valve-per-cylinder engine with a displacement of 1.9 liters, this compact powerhouse delivered 126 horsepower and 94 kW of power.
Its 5-speed manual transmission and front-wheel drivetrain provided a sporty driving experience.
Positioned in the front of the vehicle, the engine utilized a piston combustion type. To fuel this pocket rocket to capacity, you’d require 50 liters of gasoline.
Among its competitors, the Peugeot 205 GTi boasted an impressive top speed of 208 kilometers per hour and could accelerate from 0 to 100 kilometers per hour in just 7.8 seconds.
Fuel efficiency was another highlight, with the NEDC test showing a combined fuel consumption rate averaging 7.8 liters per 100 kilometers.
The Peugeot 205 GTi featured three conventional doors, with the front doors being typical in design. It could accommodate 50 kg of cargo on its roof, and its cargo capacity was a commendable 440 kg.
In terms of weight, this vehicle had a curb weight of 860 kg and a gross weight of 1300 kg. Its dimensions included a length of 3705 mm, a height of 1376 mm, and a width of 1376 mm.
The manual operation controlled the car’s conventional mirrors, and when well-maintained, both the rear wiper and rear washer system performed admirably.
8. Subaru Impreza: Master of All-Wheel Drive
Since 1987, Subaru set its sights on competing with the BMW E30 series and has been a pioneer in equipping all its vehicles with all-wheel drive (AWD), an innovation that continues to set the brand apart.
While AWD is no longer a unique feature, Subaru remains a leader in this class. The Subaru Impreza, powered by a 2-liter boxer engine producing 152 horsepower in its base configuration, exemplifies Subaru’s commitment to AWD technology.
The Impreza’s AWD system is constantly active, providing surefooted traction in all driving conditions.
While its horsepower may not translate to stellar performance, the Impreza offers a comfortable and reliable driving experience.
Equipped with a five-speed manual or a CVT transmission, it accelerates from zero to 60 miles per hour in 9 to 9.2 seconds, depending on the transmission choice.
Fuel economy is reasonable for a compact five-passenger car, with the Impreza returning 28 city and 36 highway miles per gallon.
9. Volkswagen MK2 GTI: The Agile Competitor
In the 1980s, Volkswagen set its sights on competing with the BMW E30 series and introduced the Mk2 GTI.
This iconic Volkswagen model quickly gained recognition for its easy and comfortable driving experience, coupled with remarkable agility.
The Mk2 GTI’s engine is robust, delivering reliable performance and longevity when well-maintained.
With a length of 2020 mm, a height of 1405 mm, and a width of 1710 mm, the Mk2 GTI boasts a compact yet sporty design.
Its 2.0-liter 8V engine achieves a top speed of 123 miles per hour, accelerating from 0 to 62 mph in 10.1 seconds and generating 113 horsepower.
An alternative engine option, the 2.0-liter 16V, produces 128 bhp, reaches a top speed of 134 miles per hour, and accelerates from 0 to 62 mph in 8.3 seconds.
Fuel consumption varies, with the V8 and V16 engines achieving 27.4 and 25.9 mpg, respectively.
Over the years, the Volkswagen Mk2 GTI has evolved, with later generations maintaining the spirit of the 1980s models.
You can find this iconic vehicle at an average cost of $12,998, making it an attractive alternative for those seeking a car like the BMW E30.
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10. Volkswagen Scirocco: A Striking Resemblance
While the Volkswagen Scirocco may differ slightly from the BMW E30 at the rear, the two cars share a striking resemblance when viewed from the front.
The 1984 VW Scirocco, a three-door compact car with seating for four passengers, boasts a unique design and practical features.
Its rear trunk offers 346 liters of cargo space, expandable to 920 liters when you fold down the rear seats.
Measuring 1310 mm in height, 1625 mm in width, 4050 mm in length, and featuring a wheelbase of 2400 mm, the Scirocco provides ample room for its category.
Keep in mind that the car’s roof can be modified to carry up to 75 kilograms of luggage, while the total cargo weight should not exceed 405 kilograms.
With curb weights ranging from 855 to 950 kilograms and gross weights of 1260 to 1320 kilograms, the Scirocco offers nimble handling.
Its manufacturer, Volkswagen (Germany), reports a maximum speed of 167 km/hr. Equipped with front-wheel drive (FWD) and a 5-speed manual transmission, the Scirocco achieves a fuel consumption rate of 7 liters per 100 kilometers.
Under the hood, the Scirocco features a petrol-powered engine with 74 hp/75 Ps and a torque of 125 Nm/92 lb-ft.
For those seeking an alternative to the E30 with L4 cylinders and a 1272 cm3 displacement, the Scirocco provides a compelling choice.
Is it worth owning an E30?
Owning a BMW E30 can be a rewarding experience, especially if you can acquire a decent, rust-free example.
The 1.8-liter engine in the 318 versions of the E30 is known for its durability and ease of maintenance. These cars are cherished by many for their driving characteristics and classic appeal.
If you appreciate the E30’s unique blend of performance and style, owning one can be a worthwhile and enjoyable endeavor.
Is a BMW E30 a rare car?
Certain versions of the BMW E30, particularly the M3 variants, can be considered rare. For example, the M3 E30 Roberto Ravaglia edition is extremely rare, with only 25 units ever produced.
Among those, only a limited number were painted in Misano Red, further increasing their rarity.
Finding such rare and limited-production models can be a challenging task, making them highly sought after by collectors.
What makes the BMW E30 so special?
The BMW E30 is considered special for several reasons. Firstly, its engine offered a balance between power and fuel efficiency, which was remarkable for its time.
Secondly, the E30’s front-engine design contributed to excellent weight distribution, allowing for superb handling and cornering.
Additionally, its aesthetics and overall design have made it a cult classic in the automotive world. These factors combined to create a car that is celebrated for its performance, handling, and timeless appeal.
Final Thoughts: BMW E30 Competitors
In conclusion, the quest for cars similar to the BMW E30 reveals a fascinating array of alternatives and competitors that capture the spirit of this iconic vehicle.
From the agile Subaru Impreza to the timeless Volkswagen Mk2 GTI and the striking resemblance of the Volkswagen Scirocco, each of these cars offers a unique blend of performance, style, and driving experience.
While the BMW E30 continues to hold a special place in the hearts of automotive enthusiasts, these alternatives demonstrate that the spirit of the E30 lives on in various forms across the automotive landscape.
Whether you prioritize all-wheel drive, reliable performance, or a distinctive design, these cars have something to offer every enthusiast seeking vehicles akin to the beloved E30.
In the world of cars similar to the BMW E30, diversity reigns, providing a wealth of options for those who appreciate the timeless appeal of this legendary vehicle.