There are hefty discounts available for private buyers on most 3 Series models, while BMW often has attractive PCP finance offers. Resale values are also among the best in the class.
Every engine returns competitive fuel economy and CO2 figures when compared with equivalent rivals’; this includes the four-wheel-drive xDrive models as well as the more powerful versions such as the 335i and M3. However, it’s the 320 ED models that are most impressive, offering extremely low CO2 emissions even with an automatic gearbox fitted. This helps to keep company car tax low. Add in the well-priced leasing deals and it’s easy to see why they are so attractive to business users.
BMW will sell you a fixed-priced service package for up to five years or 50,000 miles to help you plan your budget. It’s a worthwhile option that’s priced fairly; similar packages from some rival manufacturers can cost several hundred pounds more. The same service package is also available for the M3 but costs a lot more, as will running cost generally on this high-performance model.
BMW 3 Series equipment
The BMW 3 Series comes with a level of standard equipment that reflects well against its premium competition from Audi, Jaguar and Mercedes. However, more mainstream rivals such as the VW Passat offer more.
An entry-level SE trim comes with sat-nav as standard (which is an extra on the Audi) as well as dual-zone climate and cruise controls, rear parking sensors, 17in alloy wheels, Bluetooth, a DAB radio, plus automatic lights and wipers.
Our preferred trim is ED Plus, which adds leather interior and heated front seats. ED Sport models add 17in wheels as well as sport seats to this.
Standard Sport models also some with sports seats and a sports multifunction steering wheel, while Luxury adds leather upholstery and larger 18in wheels. M Sport versions have a more aggressive-looking bumpers and sports suspension and M Sport 18in wheels. The M3 takes the sportiness even further with bespoke adaptive sports suspension and flared wheelarches containing 19in wheels, along with luxuries such as unique M Sport electric seats with Marino leather.
There are a host of optional extras for the 3 Series range, which include the latest technology items such as adaptive LED headlights and driver’s head-up display, along with trim enhancements such as wood, aluminium, or carbon interior finishes.
BMW 3 Series reliability
Our latest customer satisfaction highlighted a few issues, including brake shudder, electrical gremlins and heater or air-conditioning gripes.
BMW as a brand had a pretty lowly ranking in our most recent reliability survey. That said, Audi, Jaguar and Mercedes performed slightly worse, with VW outranking them all at the middle of the table.
The 3 Series comes with a decent manufacturer’s warranty though. It covers the 3 Series for the first three years of its life with no mileage restriction. This beats its rivals, which cover you for only the first 60,000 miles.
BMW 3 Series safety & security
In 2012 Euro NCAP awarded the BMW 3 Series its maximum five-star rating, although since then the tests have become more stringent.
Still, it has six airbags as standard, but these don’t include a driver’s knee bag, which rivals such as the VW Passat have as standard. You also have to pay extra for city braking, which comes as standard many of the 3 Series’ rivals.
Security expert Thatcham has rated the 3 Series as five stars out of five for resisting theft and four out of five for withstanding being broken into, which is the same as its rivals. The BMW comes with a full alarm and immobiliser as standard.
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Comes with all the essentials such as sat-nav, reversing sensors, dual-zone climate control, Bluetooth, DAB radio and 17in alloy wheels, but you have to pay extra for luxuries such as leather seats.
Our pick ED Plus
This is our favourite trim because you get all the equipment of the SE but with added luxuries such as heated front seats and leather trim. Swaps the SE’s 17in wheels for 16in alloys and low-rolling-resistance tyres to aid efficiency.
Like the ED Plus comes with features including sat-nav, Bluetooth, dual-zone climate control and a DAB radio, as well as leather trim and heated front seats. Also has a sportier look and feel, thanks to 17in wheels, sporty-looking bumpers as well as sports seats.
Like the ED Sport, the standard Sport model comes with 17in wheels and more sporty bumpers and trims. Inside there are sports seats and a sport multifunction steering wheel, but not the leather trim or seat heating of the ED Sport.
Offers a more luxurious feel with added chrome highlights inside and out, plus wood instead of metal trim on the dashboard. Luxury models also add leather seats with contrasting stitching and larger 18in alloys.
M Sport models come with even more aggressive-looking bumpers and sill extensions, M Sport 18in alloy wheels and lowered sports suspension. Inside are leather sports seats and steering wheel, along with metal dashboard trim finishes.
It is very pricey but comes reasonably well kitted out with a seven-speed dual-clutch auto, unique electric M Seats trimmed in Marino leather, 19in wheels and specific adaptive sports suspension, although the options are many and can be expensive.