Costs & verdict
Everyday costs, plus how reliable and safe it is
Costs, insurance groups, MPG and CO2
Broadly speaking, the 3 Series Touring is priced between the slightly cheaper Audi A4 Avant and the slightly more expensive Mercedes C-Class Estate and Volvo V60. Resale values are quite strong by class standards, and this bodes well if you’re looking to buy using PCP finance.
If you’re a company car driver, you should look at the 330e plug-in hybrid; its low CO2 emissions keep it in the lower benefit-in-kind (BIK) tax bands. To get the best economy out of the 330e you need to keep the battery charged – otherwise you’re basically running on its 2.0-litre petrol engine alone. The battery takes 6 hours to charge from empty if you plug into a regular domestic three-pin socket, which falls to an official 3hrs 36min if you plug into a proper electric car charging point using the optional type 2 lead.
The 318d Touring will feature on many company car lists, as will the 320d, and neither incurs the 4% diesel surcharge because they're RDE2 compliant. In fact, with both occupying the same BIK tax bracket, upgrading to a 320d Touring looks all the more tempting. The 320d is particularly efficient because it has mild hybrid assistance, with a claimed economy of up to 57.6mpg.
Equipment, options and extras
Mid-range Sport trim is a real sweet spot in the line-up. As well as coming with sportier bumpers and 18in alloy wheels, it also brings those all-important heated leather seats. These are added to the usual 3 Series equipment, which includes tri-zone climate control (with a separate controller for rear passengers), cruise control, power-folding door mirrors and automatic lights and wipers. Add the aforementioned infotainment features and visibility aids, and you have a well-equipped car.
However, people clearly appreciate really sporty looks; most BMW buyers opt for the even more aggressive-looking M Sport trim. You get a sportier body-kit, lighter M alloy wheels, blacked-out exterior detailing and an M-specific steering wheel, but the really beneficial upgrades are the fantastic digital instruments and larger 10.3in infotainment screen. However, if you go for M Sport trim, as we suggest you do, make sure to add the optional M Sport Plus Pro package for a more comfortable ride (this and the adaptive suspension that comes with it is standard-fit on the range-topping M340i and M340d Tourings).
In the 2020 What Car? Reliability Survey, BMW finished 9th out of 31 manufacturers – behind Lexus, but ahead of Audi, Jaguar and Mercedes. That’s a good performance for the brand, but the 3 Series itself was a little less impressive, finishing in 6th out of 11 rivals in the Executive car category – putting it ahead of the A4 and C-class but behind the Volvo V60.
You get a three-year manufacturer's warranty with no mileage cap, and you can extend it for an extra charge if you intend to keep the car for longer. The 330e plug-in hybrid has cover for the battery extended to six years (capped at 60,000 miles between years three and six).
Safety and security
Impressively, the 3 Series not only got the full five stars, but managed an even higher score than the vault-like Volvo V60 in Euro NCAP crash tests while all versions come with a good roster of active safety features that are designed to prevent you having a bump, and passive ones to protect you if you do. The list includes automatic emergency braking, which can recognise pedestrians as well as cars, lane departure warning, traffic sign recognition and a bunch of airbags.
We’d recommend considering the optional Driving Assistant Plus pack, though; it further reduces your chances of an incident by adding lane-keeping assistance, blindspot monitoring and cross-traffic alert (which warns if you’re about to pull out into the path of a car when leaving a side junction). It also gives you adaptive cruise control with steering assistance.
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