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Used BMW 3 Series Compact (98 - 07) review

(1998 - 2007)
BMW 3 Series Compact (98 - 07)
Review continues below...

Which used BMW 3 Series hatchback should I buy?

Although the entry-level engine is labelled 316i, it is actually a 1.8, while a 2.0-litre unit powers the 318i. The 115bhp 1.8-litre is adequate, but it will always leave the keen driver frustrated that they can't exploit the Compact's fine chassis a little further.

Our choice, the 140bhp 2.0-litre, is a rewarding drive and posts a 9.0sec 0-60mph time. An excellent 150bhp 2.0-litre turbodiesel engine arrived in late 2001 with masses of pulling power, while fastest of all is the 192bhp 325ti, capable of hitting 60mph in just 6.9sec.

Safety is good on all models, with anti-lock brakes and front and side airbags as standard. ES trim adds a single-CD player and air-con. We recommend the SE, though, which comes with alloy wheels, fog lamps and steering wheel-mounted controls. Top-trim models are badged Sport and feature traction control, stiffer sports suspension and sports seats.

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Which used BMW 3 Series hatchback should I buy?

Although the entry-level engine is labelled 316i, it is actually a 1.8, while a 2.0-litre unit powers the 318i. The 115bhp 1.8-litre is adequate, but it will always leave the keen driver frustrated that they can't exploit the Compact's fine chassis a little further.

Our choice, the 140bhp 2.0-litre, is a rewarding drive and posts a 9.0sec 0-60mph time. An excellent 150bhp 2.0-litre turbodiesel engine arrived in late 2001 with masses of pulling power, while fastest of all is the 192bhp 325ti, capable of hitting 60mph in just 6.9sec.

Safety is good on all models, with anti-lock brakes and front and side airbags as standard. ES trim adds a single-CD player and air-con. We recommend the SE, though, which comes with alloy wheels, fog lamps and steering wheel-mounted controls. Top-trim models are badged Sport and feature traction control, stiffer sports suspension and sports seats.

For all the latest reviews, advice and new car deals, sign up to the What Car? newsletter here