Which used BMW 3 Series estate should I buy?
Diesel is the best option by far, but the vast array of engines could leave buyers confused. Many are the same size but have different power outputs, and have been uprated since launch.
The 120-141bhp 2.0-litre 318d is acceptable, but we'd go for the 320d with 161bhp, or 174bhp after Sept 2007 and 181bhp post-March 2010. The performance-oriented 3.0-litre models come as the 194-201bhp 325d, and the 228-241bhp 330d or 282bhp 335d.
If you cover only a low annual mileage, one of the petrol models may prove better value. The refined 127-168bhp 2.0-litre 318i or 320i will suit most, while the brawny six-cylinder engines come in three variants: a 2.5-litre with 215bhp and two 3.0-litre models with between 254bhp and 302bhp. All come with a six-speed manual gearbox as standard, but there's also a six-speed automatic option.
Entry-level models miss out on alloys, but do get a CD player, air conditioning and four electric windows.
ES specification adds alloys and front foglights, air-conditioning and four electric windows, but SE cars are the most common models on the used market, with bigger alloys, a multi-function steering wheel, traction control and reversing sensors. The M Sport editions get a muscular bodykit, larger alloys and the firmer sports suspension.
In mid-2009, the SE Business Edition was introduced, which added leather upholstery, Bluetooth and sat-nav to the standard SE spec.
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