3 Series 2019 Awards

BMW 3 Series review

Cost & verdict
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In this review

Cost & verdict

Everyday costs, plus how reliable and safe it is

BMW 3 Series saloon running costs

Broadly speaking, the 3 Series is priced between the slightly cheaper equivalent A4 and the mildly more expensive C-Class. Having not been on sale for very long, only small savings were available on the brochure price at the time of writing, but that's expected to change quickly once BMW unleashes cars towards its dealers at full capacity. At present, resale values are predicted to be strong, so you can expect your 3 Series to have retained a greater chunk of its value than its competitors in three years’ time.

If you’re a company car driver, you’ll be pleased by the 320d automatic’s 112g/km of CO2 emissions, which puts it in a lower benefit-in-kind (BIK) tax bracket than its direct rivals. Our experience is that the 320d is also very economical in the real world, averaging just under 50mpg with relative ease.

BMW 3 Series saloon equipment

We’ve already listed elsewhere the numerous infotainment features and visibility aids, such as standard LED headlights and parking sensors, but the 3 Series is well equipped in other areas as well.

SE is the entry-level trim and comes with pretty much all the executive features you might expect, including 17in alloy wheels, tri-zone climate control (including a separate controller for the rear passengers), cruise control, heated front seats, power-folding door mirrors and automatic lights and wipers.

Sport trim is our favourite, because as well as coming with sportier bumpers and larger 18in alloy wheels, you also get the all-important leather seats.

Clearly people appreciate a sporty look; most BMW buyers opt for the even more aggressive M Sport trim. We wouldn’t necessarily endorse this, because you’re not getting a whole lot more than the added style for your money, but if this is your thing, we'd recommend driving before you buy. To reiterate what we said earlier, the ride is firm, so it might be wise to think about deselecting the default M Sport suspension or adding optional adaptive M Sport suspension.

BMW 3 Series RHD iDrive controller

BMW 3 Series saloon reliability

We can’t give you any detail on how reliable the current 3 Series is likely to be – it’s simply too new. But we can give you a heads-up on BMW’s overall reliability performance. The answer, according to the  2018 What Car? Reliability Survey, is okay but not outstanding: it came 16th out of 31 manufacturers. To be fair, that’s above Jaguar, Mercedes and Audi, but below many non-premium brands.

As a back-up, you get a three-year manufacturer's warranty with no mileage cap, which you can extend for an extra cost if you intend to keep the car longer.

BMW 3 Series saloon safety and security

Because it currently has no Euro NCAP rating, the 3 Series can't get our top five-star mark for safety, but all versions come with a good baseline of active safety features that are designed to prevent you having a bump and passive ones to protect you if you do.

The list includes automatic emergency braking that looks out for pedestrians as well as cars, lane departure warning, traffic sign recognition and a bunch of airbags. We’d recommend adding the optional Driving Assistant Plus pack, though, because this further reduces your chances of an incident with the addition of lane-keeping assistance, blindspot monitoring and cross traffic alert, which warns if you’re about to pull out of a side junction into the path of a car.

As part of this package, you also get adaptive cruise control with steering assistance and a stop-start function to take the stress out of traffic jams.

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Verdict

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.

  • Incisive steering and superb body control
  • Brilliant infotainment system
  • Excellent driving position
  • 320d is relatively cheap to run
  • Ride is rather firm – particularly in M Sport versions
  • Not as well finished inside as an Audi A4
Trims
There are 13 trims available for the 3 Series saloon. Click to see details.See all versions
SE
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SE
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SE
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Sport
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OUR PICK
Sport
Sport trim is our favourite, because as well as coming with sportier bumpers and larger...
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M Sport
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M Sport
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£34,577
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M Sport
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Sport
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M Sport
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Sport
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£39,061
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M Sport
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