The 1.5-litre three-cylinder petrol engine in the entry-level 318i model issurprisingly willing, but needs to be revved quite hard, while the 320i offers genuine pace – it’s quicker in the real world than an equivalent Jaguar XE and a match for its other rivals. For those looking for higher performance the 330i and 340i are very quick, while the 425bhp M3 offers a turn of speed to rival many supercars’.
We prefer the diesels, though, with the exception of the 316d, which feels rather underpowered. We’d stick with the 318d, or better still the 320d. The latter’s 2.0-litre engine has plenty of low-end shove for effortless everyday pace and has the measure of similar-engined versions of its rivals. The even more efficiency-focused 320 ED models are a little slower, but not by much and still feel more than capable. Like the larger petrol engines, the 330d and particularly 335d are very quick indeed.
Those looking to drive mainly short distances may be interested in the 330e, which combines the engine from the 320i with an electric motor and battery pack. It offers similar pace to a 330i but with much lower CO2 emissions thanks to a 25-mile electric only range.