It is true that for 1999, the Premium package was required on the 323i in order to get the Multi-Function controls. However, the second car you posted a link to is a 328i, which always had the Multi-Function controls as standard, as did both coupe models (323Ci & 328Ci) in 2000.
According to my Fast-Facts BMW Cd-Rom, the new 4-Spoke steering wheel change happened for all models produced after June 2000, so even some 2000 E46 models would have gotten this new wheel. Although I've never seen the newer 4-spoke wheel design without Multi-Function controls, it may have existed.
I actually think that when the design of the steering wheel changed, BMW just made the Multi-Function controls standard on every model for simplicity's sake.