BMW 3 Series review

Category: Executive car

Section: Costs & verdict

BMW 3 Series Saloon 2021 infotainment RHD
  • BMW 3 Series 2021 COTY
  • BMW 3 Series Saloon 2021 rear tracking RHD
  • BMW 3 Series Saloon 2021 dashboard RHD
  • BMW 3 Series Saloon 2021 rear seats RHD
  • BMW 3 Series Saloon 2021 infotainment RHD
  • BMW 3 Series Saloon 2021 front seats RHD
  • BMW 3 Series Saloon 2021 wide front tracking shot RHD
  • BMW 3 Series Saloon 2021 static front right studio RHD
  • BMW 3 Series Saloon 2021 left studio RHD
  • BMW 3 Series Saloon 2021 rear left studio RHD
  • BMW 3 Series Saloon 2021 boot open RHD
  • BMW 3 Series 2021 COTY
  • BMW 3 Series Saloon 2021 rear tracking RHD
  • BMW 3 Series Saloon 2021 dashboard RHD
  • BMW 3 Series Saloon 2021 rear seats RHD
  • BMW 3 Series Saloon 2021 infotainment RHD
  • BMW 3 Series Saloon 2021 front seats RHD
  • BMW 3 Series Saloon 2021 wide front tracking shot RHD
  • BMW 3 Series Saloon 2021 static front right studio RHD
  • BMW 3 Series Saloon 2021 left studio RHD
  • BMW 3 Series Saloon 2021 rear left studio RHD
  • BMW 3 Series Saloon 2021 boot open RHD
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In this section:
  • Costs, insurance groups, MPG and CO2
  • Equipment, options and extras
  • Reliability
  • Safety and security

Costs & verdict

Everyday costs, plus how reliable and safe it is

Costs, insurance groups, MPG and CO2

Broadly speaking, the 3 Series is priced between the slightly cheaper equivalent Audi A4 and the slightly more expensive Mercedes C-Class. Resale values are predicted to be strong by class standards, so, if you're buying privately, after three years you can expect a 3 Series to have retained a big chunk more of its value than a C-Class and a reasonable slice more compared with an A4.

The cheapest version for company car drivers (and our favourite version) is the 330e plug-in hybrid; its low CO2 emissions keep it in the lower benefit-in-kind (BIK) tax bands. To get the best economy out of the 330e you need to keep the battery charged – otherwise you’re basically running on its 2.0-litre petrol engine alone. The battery takes 6 hours to charge from empty if you plug into a regular domestic three-pin socket, which falling to an official 3hrs 36min if you plug into a proper electric car charging point using the optional type 2 lead.

Equipment, options and extras

Mid-range Sport trim is our favourite. As well as coming with sportier bumpers and 18in alloy wheels, it also brings the sumptuousness of leather seats that are heated in the front. These are added to the standard 3 Series' equipment, which includes three-zone climate control (with a separate controller for rear passengers), cruise control, power-folding door mirrors and automatic lights and wipers. Factor in the aforementioned infotainment features and visibility aids and you have a very well equipped car.

However, people clearly appreciate sporty looks: most BMW buyers opt for the even more aggressive-looking M Sport trim. We wouldn’t necessarily endorse this, because it doesn’t give you a whole lot more than added style for your money, and if this is your thing, we'd recommend a drive before you buy. To reiterate what we said earlier, M Sport models have rather a firm ride, so you might want to consider replacing the default M Sport suspension with the optional adaptive M suspension. It comes as part of a pricey M Sport Plus Package – although it’s standard on the range-topping M340i and M340d.

Overview

The BMW 3 Series leads the charge in the premium executive class. Its primary appeal is in the way it drives, but its engines, standard equipment list and infotainment system are first rate as well. The firm ride on M Sport models is just about the only thing we can grumble about in this near-flawless executive car.

  • Brilliant fun to drive
  • Class-leading infotainment system
  • Great range of engines
  • Ride is rather firm – particularly in M Sport versions
  • Not as well finished inside as an Audi A4
  • Adjustable lumbar support costs extra
New car deals
Save up to £3,256
Target Price from £31,162
Save up to £3,256
or from £340pm
Swipe to see used and leasing deals
Nearly new deals
From £31,900
Leasing deals
From £330pm