Used BMW 3 Series 2019-present review

Category: Executive car

The BMW 3 Series is a top-notch executive car that's great to drive and easy to live with and a terrific used buy. 

BMW 3 Series front cornering
  • BMW 3 Series front cornering
  • BMW 3 Series infotainment
  • BMW 3 Series interior
  • BMW 3 Series rear seats
  • BMW 3 Series side driving
  • BMW 3 Series boot
  • BMW 3 Series interior
  • BMW 3 Series interior with mobile phone
  • BMW 3 Series rear seats
  • BMW 3 Series side driving
  • BMW 3 Series interior with mobile phone
  • BMW 3 Series front cornering
  • BMW 3 Series infotainment
  • BMW 3 Series interior
  • BMW 3 Series rear seats
  • BMW 3 Series side driving
  • BMW 3 Series boot
  • BMW 3 Series interior
  • BMW 3 Series interior with mobile phone
  • BMW 3 Series rear seats
  • BMW 3 Series side driving
  • BMW 3 Series interior with mobile phone
Used BMW 3 Series 2019-present review
Star rating

What's the used BMW 3 Series saloon like?

Cars and religion don’t normally mix, but finding a used BMW 3 Series is almost as easy as opening a hotel drawer and finding a copy of the Bible. And no wonder, the 3 Series has evolved over the years into a terrific car, one that has grown to define its own class.

Whether you’re charging down the M1, going to a shopping centre or parking up at work, you’ll find a 3 Series somewhere in the mix. And while that’s not good if you want to stand out, it’s great for used car buyers because they’ll have lots of choice. In fact, so good is it, in won our overall What Car? Used Car of the Year title this year.


The latest BMW 3 Series is a top-notch executive car that's great to drive and easy to live with and a solid used buy 

  • Great fun to drive
  • Sharp steering and superb body control
  • Intuitive infotainment system
  • Well equipped
  • Interior not as well finished as Audi A4
  • Lumbar support was an expensive extra
  • Rather firm ride, especially on M Sport models

Engines: To suit the varied needs of customers, with this latest generation there are four diesel, four petrol and one plug-in hybrid option to choose from. The base, 148bhp 318d is fine, but the 187bhp 320d is a better bet that's almost as economical. Neither has quite the pulling power of the 261bhp, six-cylinder 330d or might of the M340d, which with 335bhp is the most powerful diesel-engined 3 Series.

Kicking off the petrol range is the 154bhp 318i, followed by a 181bhp 320i, 254bhp 330i and finishing with the 369bhp 3.0-litre six-cylinder M340i which sounds great and goes like stink. If you fancy indulging in a bit of electric-only driving, the 288bhp 330e uses the same 2.0-litre, four-cylinder petrol engine as the majority of the petrol range, but it has an additional battery and electric motor to allow for short stints of zero-emissions driving.

Trims and equipment: Entry-level SE Pro gets automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection, automatic lights and wipers, front and rear parking sensors, a reversing camera, adaptive LED headlights, three-zone climate control, a DAB radio and 17in alloy wheels. Mid-range Sport Pro adds 18in alloys, leather trim and heated front sports seats; M Sport models have M Sport suspension and brakes, along with an upgraded 'professional connected package' for the infotainment system while range-topping M Sport Pro build on this with jet black exterior highlights and trim-specific metallic paint.

Speaking of packages, there were many on the options list. The main one to look out for is the Comfort Plus Pack, for lumbar support and electric front seats with memory. If you like your tech, the Technology Pack has an upgraded Harmon Kardon sound system, wireless charging and a head-up display. There was even something called Laserlight in the visibility pack; it's a lighting system that provides twice the high beam headlight range of an LED headlight system.

Ride and handling: The unique selling point of the 3 Series has always been the way it drives, and this version continues to be the best of its type to drive. It doesn’t have the quick steering of the Alfa Romeo Giulia, or quite the damping control of a Jaguar XE over a particularly rough country road, but it fulfils a wider remit than either of those two in everyday life to give it the edge.

Wind and road noise are very low, and as long as you avoid the overly firm M Sport suspension, the ride is very well controlled.

Interior and practicality: The interior of the 3 Series has a good mix of high-tech screens for the infotainment system and instrument cluster, and physical buttons for the air con system and iDrive infotainment interface. This setup is easier to use on the move than the post-facelift Audi A4, which has two touchscreens to control everything.

Space inside the 3 Series is also a step up on rivals. True, there’s little difference between the A4, 3 Series and Mercedes C-Class up front, but in the back, you’ll get a bit more leg and shoulder room in the BMW. Plus, the rear bench is reclined a bit more for greater comfort.

The boot is a decent size, too, with 40:20:40 split folding rear seats if you need to load longer items.

Safety: The 3 Series was awarded a full five-star safety rating by Euro NCAP, scoring better for front seat adult and rear seat child occupant protection than C-Class, and is also better than the A4 for older people upfront. Rear cross traffic alert and blindspot monitoring were all part of a pricey 'driving assistant professional package' when new.

If you're interested in finding a used 3 Series, or any of the other executive cars mentioned here, head over to the Used Car Buying pages to find lots of cars listed for sale at a great price.

BMW 3 Series infotainment

Ownership cost

What used BMW 3 Series saloon will I get for my budget?

Prices for a used BMW 3 Series start at around £18,000 for a 2019 car. You'll need between £20,000 and £30,000 for the majority of 2019 and 2020 cars, depending on trim and engine spec, and around £25,000 to £35,000 for the majority of 2021 and 2022 cars. Spend upwards of £30,000 on a 2023 car, depending on trim.

To keep up to date with used 3 Series prices use our free valuation tool to make sure you are getting the best deal.

Check the value of a used BMW 3 Series with What Car? Valuations

BMW 3 Series interior

How much does it cost to run a BMW 3 Series saloon?


Every version of the 3 Series has competitive fuel economy for the class; even the most potent M340i petrol that has a combined WLTP figure of 34.9mpg, despite having a 0-62mph time of 4.4sec. The 318i. 320i and 330i all use a turbocharged 2.0-litre petrol engine, so there’s not a great deal of difference between them regarding fuel economy: both the 318i and 320i get 43.5mpg and the 330i manages 40.4mpg. The 330e is a plug-in hybrid with a claimed electric-only range of 25-30 miles and, if you do regularly charge it up, a combined figure of 201.8mpg.

In reality, it’ll be the diesels that make the most sense for higher mileage users. Both the 318d a non-xDrive 320d are the most frugal at 58.9mpg, while the xDrive 320d gets 53.3mpg. The larger capacity 330d should manage 46.3mpg, with the M340d getting marginally less at 45.6mpg.

Road Tax (VED)

This generation of BMW 3 series will be charged under the current flat rate fee road tax system, but you may have to pay attention to the spec of your 3 Series because some versions bust past the £40,000 limit, so higher-spec versions could be a lot more expensive to tax than lesser ones. Current charges are £190 a year for the VED (£180 for the hybrid) and £410 a year for the supplementary tax. To find out more about the current road tax costs, click here for further information.

Servicing costs

It’ll cost you more to service a 3 Series than it would to maintain an equivalent Audi A4. You can split the cost up into monthly payments of £25 for the BMW, but an Audi would be less expensive at £19.50. However, you’ll be spending less than someone driving a Mercedes C-Class, because that’ll set you back £32 a month.

Another thing to consider as a running cost would be Apple CarPlay, because BMW now charges a fee for the privilege of connecting your iPhone to your car. It’s currently set at £295 for unlimited access and won't be transferable to the next owner.


In our annual What Car? Reliability Survey, BMW 3 Series owners said that while most had found their cars reliable, there were exceptions.

The issues reported were mostly minor, with a focus on infotainment system glitches. A notable concern among some owners was the higher-than-expected cost of servicing through BMW main dealers.

Additionally, a few readers were disappointed by the three-year warranty, expecting a longer coverage period.

Find out more about the BMW 3 Series’ long-term reliability with our dedicated reliability page.

BMW 3 Series interior with mobile phone

Our recommendations

Which used BMW 3 Series saloon should I buy?


The 320i petrol might be a good idea for those who live in a city and mostly do short journeys, but the 320d is a better all-round choice. It doesn’t have the lowest running costs in the 3 Series range, but it’s not far off. Its reliability can be a little mixed, however.

However, our favourite, if it fits into your lifestyle, is the plug-in hybrid 330e. It offers all that any 3 Series does and has the potential for huge savings in fuel bills, provided you can charge it up regularly and the majority of your journeys are short.


Mid-range Sport comes with all the equipment you’d need and allows you to avoid the overly firm suspension of M Sport.

Our favourite BMW 3 Series: 330e Sport

BMW 3 Series rear seats


What alternatives should I consider to a used BMW 3 Series saloon?

The Audi A4 has long been a thorn in the side of the BMW 3 Series, because it drives nicely, is very refined, comes with loads of kit and has a big boot. The interior is very high quality, although the infotainment system for pre-facelift versions doesn’t look quite so flash. It does work well, mind you.

In terms of pure premium clout, few cars are better than the Mercedes C-Class in terms of brand recognition. You won’t enjoy driving your C-Class as much as a 3 Series, but it is very fuel-efficient. Particularly with a four-cylinder diesel under the bonnet.

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If you're interested in finding a used 3 Series head over to the Used Car Buying pages to find lots of cars listed for sale at a great price.

BMW 3 Series side driving