BMW 3 Series long-term test: report 9

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 being painted in a studio

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 9608 List price £39,825 Target Price £37,502 Price as tested £48,185 Official economy 55.4mpg Test economy 44.5mpg 

28 October 2019 – A style icon?

Beauty is indeed in the eye of the beholder: what looks to one person like a vision of perfection may to another look as appealing as diving into a post-Glastonbury Festival portaloo. Judging a car’s styling is as subjective as it gets, then, and that’s why we don’t factor looks into our reviews. But since this is instead one man’s opinion, I can say that, to my eyes, the BMW 3 Series isn't just the best-looking executive car but one of the prettiest cars you can buy in any category.

Let’s start with that black grille. Yes, it’s more prominent and larger than that of the old 3 Series, so you’ll have no trouble recognising one in the fast lane of any motorway, but it’s still curvaceous and stylish. It’s better executed – and more aggressive – to me than rivals such as the latest Audi A4's hexagonal arrangement, the Alfa Romeo Giulia's understated triangle and even the Mercedes-Benz C-Class’s single-barred entry.

BMW 3 Series being washed

Then there’s the 3 Series’ slim LED tail-lights, its subtle yet sporty M Sport bodykit, its black 19in alloy wheels, its boot-mounted spoiler, its dual exhausts and its Portimao Blue metallic paintwork. All of these are details that I like, but together the effect is nothing short of stunning. In short, it's a work of art, and one that I think wouldn’t look out of place in London’s Design Museum.

It wouldn’t be the first time a BMW has had that honour, either: the BMW i8 plug-in hybrid sports car was shortlisted in the transport category in the museum’s Design of the Year competition in 2015 – although it lost out on the class win to Google’s self-driving car.

Of course, looking as good as the 3 Series does also has a downside, and that’s the fact that I’m always trying to keep it clean. You see, even with just a few streaks of motorway grime or some well-aimed bird bombs on it, the beauty starts to fade, so I’ve spent more time at BP’s jet wash than I have in any other of my long-term test cars. And with the suds receding after another invigorating wash, its shining features are at their best once more.

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