What alternatives should I consider to a used BMW 3 Series estate?
The most obvious rivals to the 3 Series Touring are the Audi A4 Avant and the Mercedes-Benz C-Class Estate. There’s not much in it when it comes to boot capacity and flexibility, though both have slightly more rear-seat leg and head room. Countering that, the 3 Series is the most enjoyable car to drive of the three, with superior steering and handling. There's not much in it on price, either, or running costs, and all three manufacturers only scored a mid-table position on most of our recent reliability and customer satisfaction surveys.
If you’re looking for more interior space and a larger boot, and don’t mind sacrificing the premium badge, then you should consider the Skoda Superb Estate and the VW Passat Estate, both of which offer far larger interiors (and exteriors) for pretty much the same price new and used as the 3 Series. The Superb’s boot is vast; it seems almost big enough to house the entire 3 Series Touring within it, and the Passat’s is almost its equal. Both cars make a pretty good fist of the family load lugger role, with competent performance and reasonable economy and running costs. Both hold onto their value well, too, so with strong residuals there are few real bargains, though plenty of good buys.