How to spec a BMW 3 Series

Our guide to BMW's award-winning executive saloon covers which version to go for, which options to choose and how much to pay for it all...

BMW 3 Series options to choose and avoid

How to spec a BMW 3 Series

At the most recent What Car? Car of the Year Awards, we named the BMW 3 Series as our favourite executive car for the second year running. While the car itself was the same, however, this year the 320d diesel was no longer our pick; instead, we went for the 330e plug-in hybrid.

Why? Well, thanks to the 330e's partly electric power, you'll benefit from significantly lower tax bills, without losing the involving drive that the 3 Series has become known for. 

Choose M Sport trim and most of your equipment needs will already be catered for, because luxuries including sat-nav, Apple CarPlay, heated leather seats and 18in alloy wheels already come as standard. We think there's room to add more luxury without blowing your budget, though, so here's what we'd choose from the options list.

BMW 3 Series options to choose

BMW lumbar support

1. Adjustable lumbar support (£265)

We think it's a little stingy that this top-end version of the 3 Series doesn't come with adjustable lumbar support for the front seats, but at least it doesn't cost a lot to add. Buttons on the side of the base allow you to select your preferred settings, helping to make longer journeys much more comfortable.

BMW 3 Series options to choose

BMW extended storage pack

2. Extended storage pack (£190)

If you'll be using your car for regular trips with the family as well as for commuting, this pack makes a lot of sense. You get extra storage space for your odds and ends, as well as two more USB charging sockets on the rear of the centre console – perfect for topping up all of those devices that'll keep your kids content during long drives.

BMW 3 Series options to choose

BMW adaptive suspension

3. Adaptive M Sport suspension (£2200)

M Sport versions of the 3 Series look fantastic, but their firm ride means you'll feel the road's lumps and bumps in rather too much detail. If you opt for adaptive suspension, though, you can stiffen or soften the ride at the touch of a button, and its comfiest setting makes the 3 Series calmer on urban roads than versions with the standard non-adaptive setup. This upgrade is only available as part of the M Sport Plus package, which also gives you larger 19in alloy wheels, a beefier look and upgraded brakes.

BMW 3 Series options to choose

BMW charging cable

4. Type 2 charging cable (£165)

If you'll only ever be charging from a home wall box, a 1-phase Type 2 charging cable is all you'll need, and will cost you £165. If you'll occasionally be charging at motorway service stations or in other areas where 3-phase charging is available, we'd advise paying a little extra for the 3-phase cable, which ensures your car will always charge at the highest available rate. Why should I invest in a charging cable, you might ask? Well, as standard, your 330e will only come with a three-pin charger, which will take an age to charge the car's battery.

BMW 3 Series options to avoid

BMW 3 Series Saloon 2019 front seats RHD

Electric seats (£1700)

The only way to get electrically adjustable seats in your 330e is to opt for the Premium Pack. Unfortunately, this also adds a panoramic roof which limits head room, so we'd save our money instead – especially if you've separately gone for the adjustable lumbar support we recommended earlier.

BMW 3 Series options to avoid

BMW 330e alloy wheel

19in alloy wheels (£750)

If you're going for M Sport trim, you might be tempted into getting larger, 19in alloy wheels. However, we'd advise sticking with the standard 18s, because you'll have a comfier ride and save a bundle in the process.

BMW 3 Series: best buy

BMW 3 Series 330e driving
  • Model - BMW 330e M Sport auto
  • List price - £41,460
  • Target Price - £36,216
  • Target PCP - £408 per month
  • Options we'd add - Adjustable lumbar support (£265), Extended storage pack (£190), Adaptive M Sport suspension (£2200), Type 2 charging cable (£195)
  • Cost of options - £2850

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BMW 3 Series

2019 - present

Brilliant to drive and a fine all-rounder. A superb buy.