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What Car? says

3 out of 5 stars

For Great to drive; space inside for four

Against Not that exciting to look at; firm ride

Verdict A coupe that’s practical great to drive, but it won't set you pulse racing

Go for… 320d SE

Avoid… 335i M Sport Highline

BMW 3 Series Coupe
  • 1. It’s stunning to drive, with amazing grip and has great balance while cornering. The ride is on the firm side, however.
  • 2. There’s enough legroom for four adults, but the sloping roofline does impinge on rear headroom – those over six-foot will suffer.
  • 3. In line with the rest of the 3 Series range, some models reduced their emissions with engine stop-start systems making them slightly cleaner and, in most cases, cheaper to tax.
  • 4. Rattles and squeaks are the most common issue, with the dashboard and door pillars a weakness. Dealers are able to fix, but it’s not always straightforward.
  • 5. The run-flat tyres not only provide a less than perfect ride, but they're also expensive to replace. Some owners have resorted to fitting smaller wheels and standard tyres.
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BMW 3 Series Coupe full review with expert trade views

The 3 Series Coupe plays it safe. It takes the tried and tested formula of the excellent 3 Series saloon, and gives it a slightly sporty twist. The result is a car that’s excellent to drive, spacious, available with a wide range of engines – but not that inspiring to look at.

It’s stunning to drive, with amazing grip and has great balance while cornering. The ride is on the firm side, however, and while that’s fine on smooth roads it can be irritating on poor surfaces.

Passengers should enjoy riding in the 3 Series Coupe, because it’s refined and relatively free of road road. There’s enough legroom for four adults, but the sloping roofline does impinge on rear headroom – those over six-foot will suffer. The boot is surprisingly spacious for a coupe, and the split-folding rear seats allow for oversized loads.

Trade view

The newer diesel models, with low emissions and higher fuel economy, will hold their value best.

Matt Sanger
What Car?'s Used Car Editor

Of the four petrol engines available, the 2.0-litre 320i is the level-headed choice. With 170bhp it feels fast enough, yet running costs aren’t extreme. Upgrade to the smooth six-cylinder 325i or 330i, with either 215bhp or 268bhp, and your wallet might feel the strain. The twin-turbo 295bhp 335i is rapid, but expensive to fuel, tax and insure.

BMW’s diesel engines are so refined they don’t feel out of place in a coupe, and the 174bhp 2.0-lire 320d will suit most people. Moving up to the 325d will bring 194bhp, while there's 231bhp or 242bhp on offer with the 330d – depending on the car's age. There's also the 282bhp 335d, which produces more torque than a BMW M3.

All come well equipped: the SE has 17-inch alloys, cruise control, rear parking sensors, climate control, a CD player with MP3 input and front electric windows. The M Sport versions have different 18-inch wheels, cloth and Alcantara upholstery, sports suspension and a bodykit. The Highline editions of the SE and Sport add extra goodies such as Bluetooth.

Trade view

Solid and dependable coupe that drives better than it looks.

Matt Sanger
What Car?'s Used Car Editor

In line with the rest of the 3 Series range, some models reduced their emissions with engine stop-start systems making them slightly cleaner and, in most cases, cheaper to tax. The 325i dropped from 203g/km to 170g/km, the 330i from 212g/km to 173g/km and the 335i cut its CO2 from 228 g/km to 218/km in mid 2007.

The diesel models also reduced their emissions, with the 320d falling from 131g/km to 128g/km, the 325d from 171g/km to 153g/km, the 330d from 174g/km to 155g/km (and then to 152g/km in mid-2008), while the 335d dropped its CO2 from 200g/km to 177g/km. This means the 3 Series Coupe is well ahead of rivals in this area.

Fuel economy figures tell a similar story, with most models slightly improving their performance. The 320d is the most economical at 58.9mpg, with the 325d and the 330d at 49.6mpg, while the 335d does 42.2mpg. When it comes to petrol, the 320i does 44.8mpg, the 325i achieves 39.8mpg, the 330i does 39.2mpg and the 335i manages 31mpg.

Insurance costs are more typical for this type of car, however, with the entry-level cars starting at group 29, rising to group 40 for the most powerful petrol and diesel engines.

Trade view

The newer diesel models, with low emissions and higher fuel economy, will hold their value best.

Matt Sanger
What Car?'s Used Car Editor

So far, the 3 Series Coupe is proving reliable, with few complaints from owners.

Rattles and squeaks are the most common issue, with the dashboard and door pillars a weakness. Dealers are able to fix, but it’s not always straightforward. The car’s built-in Bluetooth phone system can also sulk – refusing to pair with your mobile phone. This is due to a software issue – so consult a dealer.

Other issues concern petrol engines with a heavy thirst for oil and units that run rough or fail completely. Some diesel turbos have also failed.

The run-flat tyres not only provide a less than perfect ride, but they're also expensive to replace. Some owners have resorted to fitting smaller wheels and standard tyres in an effort to resolve these issues.

Trade view

Solid and dependable coupe that drives better than it looks.

Matt Sanger
What Car?'s Used Car Editor
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