The BMW 3 Series leads the charge in the premium executive class. Its primary appeal is in the way it drives, with handling that’s guaranteed to really put a smile on your face. It’s also economical in 320d form and well equipped, with the best infotainment system in its class. It’s roomy, too, so the only real criticism is an abrupt edge to its ride – particularly in range-topping M Sport form.get the best price
Sport trim is our favourite, because as well as coming with sportier bumpers and larger 18in alloy wheels over everything you get on entry-level SE, you also get the all-important leather seats.
This is a 2.0-litre four-cylinder boasting 187bhp, and it’s just the ticket if you’re looking to balance economy with performance. You get plenty of poke from low to mid-range revs, so there’s no need to hoof it constantly to gain speed, making it relaxing to drive. When you do extend it to full chat it’s as pacey as a Mercedes C 220 d or Audi A4 40 TDI, but isn’t as quiet as the Audi.