BMW 3 Series long-term test: report 7

Our Executive Car of the Year, the BMW 3 Series, faces its toughest assignment yet: everyday life. Will it prove to be a corporate titan or quickly lose its shine? We have six months to find out...

BMW 3 Series in tight parking alley

The car BMW 3 Series 320d xDrive M Sport Run by Darren Moss, deputy editor

Why it’s here Having clinched the title of Executive Car of the Year at the 2019 What Car? Awards, the all-new 3 Series must now prove itself a champion in daily life

Needs to Be comfortable for long journeys and the weekday commute, offer exceptional fuel economy and function as a mobile office when needed

Mileage 8071 List price £39,825 Target Price £37,696 Price as tested £48,185 Official economy 55.4mpg Test economy 45mpg 

16 September 2019 – Parking perils

The What Car? muti-storey car park is a mix of raised kerbs and unforgiving concrete walls that, for the uninitiated, must seem terrifying. Most surfaces are pock-marked with the scars of a thousand scrapes and scuffs. Weaving a car up to my preferred spot on the eighth floor, then, requires both concentration and accurate steering – especially if I’m to nab ‘my’ space before that chap in the Nissan Qashqai gets in. 

BMW 3 Series parking ramp

Fortunately, steering accurately is something my 3 Series does very well indeed. Sure, the steering has a fair amount of weight to it at low speeds – more than the Audi A4 or Mercedes C-Class, for instance – but it’s also tremendously responsive, so I always know exactly what the front wheels are up to; crucial when deliberately steering wide on the ramp in order to ascend to the next floor without accidentally knocking a kerb in the process. And so far, the alloy wheels on my car remain completely untarnished.

BMW 3 Series next to kerb

Now, one of my pet peeves with the office car park is that some drivers park with a good few inches of their bonnet extending beyond the boundaries of their space, meaning the ascent to the eighth floor becomes a slalom as well as a time trial. And that makes for a lot to concentrate on in the morning.

This isn’t a problem for me, however, because the rear-view camera of my 3 Series includes a handy top-down function, so I can have a bird’s eye view of where my car is going while I park. That means I can reverse right up to the rear wall without any fear of, erm, making contact. 

BMW 3 Series reversing camera

Things aren’t all roses, however, because the intermittent Apple CarPlay smartphone connectivity problem I’ve reported previously has now become a full-blown identity crisis – car and phone simply refuse to connect using the service. I’ve restarted both participants, whispered (and then shouted) words of encouragement, searched the internet and finally resorted to just using BMW’s own (and admittedly very good) iDrive system. I miss having access to my audiobook library and WhatsApp on the move, though, so I’ll be searching for a remedy before my next update.

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