For The 3 Series is good to drive and is available with a wide range of flexible, efficient engines. It’s classy and practical and the infotainment system is excellent.

Against Desirable adaptive suspension isn’t standard. The diesel engines sound gruff and the steering has an inconsistent feel.

BMW 3 Series Saloon
44 5stars

The 3 Series is one of the best compact executive cars you can buy. It ticks just about all the boxes so it’s a shame that refinement and steering feel is below par.

What Car? readers say

3.958333

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The full BMW 3 Series review

  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
    A wide range of engines; all usefully flexible
  • Ride & Handling
    4 out of 5 stars
    Great to drive if you choose the right options
  • Refinement
    3 out of 5 stars
    Falls a bit short, mainly due to noisy diesel
  • Buying & Owning
    4 out of 5 stars
    Most models make sound financial sense
  • Quality & Reliability
    4 out of 5 stars
    Classy, but BMW’s reliability record isn’t great
  • Safety & Security
    3 out of 5 stars
    Safe, although a little off the pace for kit
  • Behind The Wheel
    4 out of 5 stars
    Little to complain about from the driver’s seat
  • Space & Practicality
    4 out of 5 stars
    Roomy enough, although some rivals are bigger
  • Equipment
    4 out of 5 stars
    Pretty generous spec compared with key rivals

There are 39 BMW 3 Series versions available

Saloon 318i SE 4dr £24,975 TBA
Saloon 318i Sport 4dr £25,275 TBA
Saloon 320i SE 4dr £27,255
What Car? says:4 stars out of 5
Saloon 316d SE 4dr £27,435
What Car? says:4 stars out of 5
Saloon 320i Sport 4dr £27,555
What Car? says:4 stars out of 5
Saloon 316d Sport 4dr £27,735
What Car? says:4 stars out of 5
Saloon 318d SE 4dr £28,685
What Car? says:4 stars out of 5
Saloon 320i xDrive SE 4dr £28,805
What Car? says:4 stars out of 5
Saloon 318d Sport 4dr £28,985
What Car? says:4 stars out of 5
Saloon 320i xDrive Sport 4dr £29,105
What Car? says:4 stars out of 5
Saloon 320i M Sport 4dr £29,555
What Car? says:4 stars out of 5
Saloon 320i Luxury 4dr £29,755
What Car? says:4 stars out of 5
Saloon 320d SE 4dr £29,785
What Car? says:4 stars out of 5
Saloon 320d Sport 4dr £30,085
What Car? says:4 stars out of 5
Saloon 320d EfficientDynamics Sport 4dr £30,175
What Car? says:4 stars out of 5
Saloon 320d Efficient Dynamics Plus 4dr £30,485
What Car? says:4 stars out of 5
Saloon 318d M Sport 4dr £30,986
What Car? says:4 stars out of 5
Saloon 320i xDrive M Sport 4dr £31,105
What Car? says:4 stars out of 5
Saloon 318d Luxury 4dr £31,185
What Car? says:4 stars out of 5
Saloon 320d xDrive SE 4dr £31,285
What Car? says:4 stars out of 5
Saloon 320i xDrive Luxury 4dr £31,305
What Car? says:4 stars out of 5
Saloon 320d xDrive Sport 4dr £31,585
What Car? says:4 stars out of 5
Saloon 320d M Sport 4dr £32,085
What Car? says:4 stars out of 5
Saloon 320d Luxury 4dr £32,285
What Car? says:4 stars out of 5
Saloon 330i M Sport 4dr £32,805
What Car? says:4 stars out of 5
Saloon 330i Luxury 4dr £33,005
What Car? says:4 stars out of 5
Saloon 320d xDrive M Sport 4dr £33,585
What Car? says:4 stars out of 5
Saloon 320d xDrive Luxury 4dr £33,785
What Car? says:4 stars out of 5
Saloon 330e SE 4dr £33,935
What Car? says:4 stars out of 5
Saloon 330e Sport 4dr £34,235
What Car? says:4 stars out of 5
Saloon 330e Luxury 4dr £36,435
What Car? says:4 stars out of 5
Saloon 330e M Sport 4dr £36,735
What Car? says:4 stars out of 5
Saloon 330d M Sport 4dr £37,415
What Car? says:4 stars out of 5
Saloon 330d Luxury 4dr £37,615
What Car? says:4 stars out of 5
Saloon 340i M Sport 4dr £38,125
What Car? says:4 stars out of 5
Saloon 330d xDrive M Sport 4dr £38,915
What Car? says:4 stars out of 5
Saloon 330d xDrive Luxury 4dr £39,115
What Car? says:4 stars out of 5
Saloon 335d xDrive M Sport 4dr £40,330
What Car? says:4 stars out of 5
Saloon M3 4dr £56,595
What Car? says:5 stars out of 5

Buyer's notes

Target Price team says:

The 3 Series range has a huge selection of engines, gearboxes and trim levels, but there’s little reason to look beyond the 320d Efficient Dynamics model. It’s quick and has seriously impressive running costs; if you’re a company car driver, you’ll love the low company car tax bills it commands. The standard manual gearbox is notchy, so we’d choose the slick automatic, especially because it hardly dents performance and actually makes some versions more economical. We’d also strongly advise adding the optional Adaptive M Sport Suspension. With it, the 3 Series is the best-driving car in the class; without it, the car’s dynamics are a little disappointing. The xDrive models come with an advanced four-wheel-drive system that can send power to the front or rear axle. It works well and doesn’t hurt fuel economy or CO2 emissions too much. Unless you really need four-wheel drive, though, we’d save some money and go for a rear-wheel-drive version.

Reader test team says:

BMW 3 Series Saloon 320d Efficient Dynamics Plus 4dr

I have a 2012 BMW 320d Efficient Dynamics. What can I say - it's a fantastic car in every way. Bought it high mileage at 95k - some say it is a risk,…

Mohamed Ghoorun

5 out of 5 stars

BMW 3 Series Saloon 320d Efficient Dynamics Plus 4dr

The car has has now done 123000 miles in nearly 4 years (in March 2016). It has been excellent in terms of reliability and economy. as per my previous…

Earl Mckoy

4 out of 5 stars

BMW 3 Series Saloon 330d M Sport 4dr

I've just downsized from a 63 plate 530D as I found the car to be just a bit too big for all the tight car parks it has to visit plus we have a 330D…

Sandip patel

5 out of 5 stars

BMW 3 Series Saloon 320d xDrive Sport 4dr

My first BMW after numerous VWs and I have to admit to being disappointed. Its an average car, not a great one the way the reviews seem to…

Dave Stanley

3 out of 5 stars
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BMW 3 Series Saloon

Read the definitive BMW 3 Series Saloon review from the expert What Car? team. Check specs, prices and compare with similar cars.

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