Cost & verdict

BMW 3 Series review

Manufacturer price from:£27,800
What Car? Target Price:£25,521
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BMW 3 Series
Review continues below...
21 Dec 2015 14:55 | Last updated: 21 Aug 2018 14:56

In this review

Cost & verdict

Everyday costs, plus how reliable and safe it is

BMW 3 Series saloon running costs

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 saloon 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

BMW 3 Series saloon 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 saloon safety and 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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Verdict

Comfortable, agile, classy and affordable to run

  • Fun handling
  • Strong and efficient engines
  • Excellent infotainment system
  • Four-cylinder diesels sound gruff
  • Inconsistent steering feel
  • Offset pedals in manual versions
There are 31 trims available for the 3 Series saloon. Click to see details.See all versions
SE
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...View trim
Fuel Petrol
What Car? Target Price from
£25,521
Average Saving £2,279
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Sport
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 tri...View trim
Fuel Petrol
What Car? Target Price from
£25,796
Average Saving £2,304
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SE
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...View trim
Fuel Petrol
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£27,626
Average Saving £2,474
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SE
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...View trim
Fuel Diesel
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£27,873
Average Saving £2,497
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Sport
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 tri...View trim
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£27,900
Average Saving £2,500
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Sport
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 tri...View trim
Fuel Diesel
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£28,147
Average Saving £2,523
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SE
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...View trim
Fuel Diesel
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£29,099
Average Saving £2,611
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Sport
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 tri...View trim
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£29,373
Average Saving £2,637
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M Sport
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...View trim
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£29,639
Average Saving £2,661
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SE
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...View trim
Fuel Diesel
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£30,160
Average Saving £2,710
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Sport
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 tri...View trim
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£30,435
Average Saving £2,735
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EfficientDynamics Plus
We are yet to try out this variant...View trim
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£30,792
Average Saving £2,768
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M Sport
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...View trim
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£31,112
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EfficientDynamics Sport
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£31,249
Average Saving £2,811
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M Sport Shadow Edition
We are yet to try out this variant...View trim
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£31,377
Average Saving £2,823
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M Sport
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...View trim
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£32,173
Average Saving £2,897
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M Sport Shadow Edition
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£32,850
Average Saving £2,960
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SE
We have not written anything about this yet...View trim
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£33,610
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M Sport Shadow Edition
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£33,912
Average Saving £3,058
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M Sport
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...View trim
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£34,337
Average Saving £3,098
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Sport
We have not written anything about this yet...View trim
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£35,010
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M Sport Shadow Edition
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£36,076
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M Sport
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£36,510
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Sport
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£37,660
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M Sport
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...View trim
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£37,690
Average Saving £3,380
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M Sport
We have not written anything about this yet...View trim
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£39,160
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M Sport
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...View trim
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£39,391
Average Saving £3,539
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M Sport Shadow Edition
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£39,428
Average Saving £3,542
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M Sport
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...View trim
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£40,466
Average Saving £3,609
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M Sport Shadow Edition
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£41,130
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M Sport Shadow Edition
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