The Audi A4 has long been the closest competitor to the 3 Series, and in 2007 a new version was launched with much improved interior space and some very frugal 2.0-litre TDI engines. It was never as good to drive as the 3 Series, but has proved itself to be a reliable car.
The Mercedes C-Class was also being replaced at this time. A little smaller and less practical overall than the 3 Series, it represented a return to form for Mercedes in quality terms and was also very comfortable.
The Jaguar X-Type was launched in 2001 as a potential 3 Series rival, but it never troubled the BMW in the sales charts. It’s nevertheless a decent car, as long as you can live with its old-school styling.
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