The interior layout, fit and finish
Driving position and dashboard
The driver’s seat in the BMW 3 Series is supportive and holds you in place very well when you're cornering quickly. It’s a shame that, as with most BMW cars, you have to pay extra for adjustable lumbar support even on the top-spec models. It's not that pricey, though, and definitely worth adding. With a steering wheel that moves extensively up and down and in and out, plus lots of seat height adjustment, you won't struggle to get comfortable.
In fact, as you sit there with a large, well-padded armrest for each elbow, you might think ‘perfect’ sums up the 3 Series’ driving position, but it's not quite as good as the Volvo S60 for one key reason: the pedals are offset slightly to the right. It's a problem that also exists in the Audi A4 and Mercedes C-Class and isn’t a major blight.
Visibility, parking sensors and cameras
Forward visibility is great thanks to reasonably slim windscreen pillars, but saloons are never the easiest of cars to see out the back of. The 3 Series is no exception, with chunky rear pillars and an 'invisible' boot that sticks out past the rear screen by a couple of feet. The good news is that you get front and rear parking sensors, a rear-view camera and BMW's Parking Assistant system, which can identify a suitable space and steer you into it, all as standard.
There's an optional 360-degree camera that offers multiple views around the car, but the image flits from one camera position to the next as you get closer to objects. That's quite distracting when you're a few centimetres away from an imposing wall – it would be more helpful if the image stayed consistent.