BMW 3 Series review

* New BMW 3 Series driven * Priced from 24,880 * On sale now...

BMW 3 Series review

With the all-new 3 Series, BMW has taken a great car and replaced it with an even better one.

The 3 Series is not only more efficient, economical and affordable to run than its predecessor, its also the most enjoyable car in its class to drive. This is our first drive of UK-spec models.

At launch you can choose from a single diesel model the 320d and two petrols the 328i and 335i. However, 316d and 318d diesels and a 320i petrol will join the line-up in March.

Whats it like to drive? BMW has certainly succeeded in its aim of creating a great drivers car.

The steering is fantastically responsive and consistently well weighted, giving you confidence on twisty back roads and motorways alike.

The ride quality is superbly composed, too; the suspension deals with most of the challenges a pockmarked road can throw at it. Even the firmer settings of the optional M Sport suspension dont make life too uncomfortable, and they improve body control through corners.

The 320d engine that will be popular with corporate buyers offers a fantastic combination of pace, power and economy. It's recognisably a diesel at standstill, but the engine noise seems to melt away on the move; theres even an enjoyable growl from under the bonnet at times.

The wind noise from the door mirrors is more of an issue, but it is never intrusive enough to be irritating.

While the 320d should be capable of an impressive 61.4mpg, it has plenty of pace when asked to accelerate at speed, with no obvious delay in the power delivery.

Whats it like inside? The 3 Series range has expanded to include three new trims Sport, Luxury and Modern.

These allow you to add a selection of largely cosmetic kit to SE spec. Whether Sport and Modern are worth the extra 1000 for different wheels, upholstery, a sports steering wheel and upgraded interior trim is down to personal taste, because the regular SE cabin is already attractive enough.

Only the 316d model will be offered in a cheaper ES trim, but we reckon the extra kit that you get on SE cars - reversing sensors, two-zone climate control and automatic headlights and wipers - makes them worth the 850 premium.

The biggest irritation in the interior is the rather fiddly manual seat adjustment, but all of the other controls are simple to use, and theres now enough rear space to keep six-footers happy.

Should I buy one? If youre in the market for a compact executive saloon, the new 3 Series should be at the top of your list. A luxurious interior, fantastic handling and supremely refined engines make it a great all round proposition.

Read the BMW 3 Series review for parents at Mumsnet Cars

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Tom Webster