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The BMW 323i was sold for only three years (from 1998-2000), but as two entirely different chassis and body styles. The E36 model was produced from 98-99, and was a 2-door convertible. The E46 was a 4-door sedan, and made from 99-00. Virtually none of the BMW 323i parts for each model were interchangeable; even the engine (though the displacement was the same) had a new variable valve timing system. Horsepower didn't change, but the stiffer, lighter body definitely improved acceleration times and handling. Coupled with a bevy of options and amenities, the E46 was clearly the buyers' choice. However, no amount of optional offerings can beat a convertible; so if it's an open-air driving experience you're after, then the E36 was the better choice. Fun fact: the 323i did not have a 2.3L engine - it was a 2.5L, but BMW did not want to offer a 325 next to a 328 so they lowered the designation of their entry level offering to appease buyers of the 328.