There is little doubt that the BMW 3-series is one of the most popular ranges of cars available today. Although originally launched in 1975, the BMW 3-series has continued to evolve and expand, sporting new engines, new looks and new driving experiences such as the 1st four-wheel drive of its kind.
Delivering excellent performance, remarkable economy and plenty of premium quality style and space inside, the BMW 3-series offers a range of models from saloon to hatchback. The BMW 3-series has been recognised for its excellence by the likes of CarBuyer who presented it with the Best Executive Car award 2014, and Top Gear’s Richard Hammond who stated that it was one of the best cars ever made.
Updates to the Mercedes C-class and the Audi A4 however have given the BMW 3-series a run for its money in recent years. Whilst the BMW 3-series used to be considerably cheaper than its competitors, the gap has been closed and the differences between them are less noticeable. However, BMW have worked tirelessly to ensure every aspect of it meets the high expectations of customers and that the 3-series stays at the top.
Driving and Performance:
When you think about BMW cars, the BMW 3-series is a perfect example of what you might picture. The BMW 3-series, especially the newer versions, feature all of the values you might associate the brand with but essentially it is smooth, comfortable and ultimately fun behind the wheel.
Fitted with standard suspension (with optional Adaptive M Sport suspension available) and partnered with very precise steering, the BMW-3 series feels light and responsive. Not only do you feel in control as you cruise along even the more difficult roads, the noise level is extremely low inside and yet you can enjoy the rumble of the powerful engines when you pick up speed.
You can choose from 3 driving experiences: EcoPro, Comfort and Sport. Each of these pretty much does what they say on the tin. No matter which setting, every model in the BMW 3-series is well balanced with good grip, and comes with either a manual or an automatic 8 speed gearbox. It should be noted that the manual can seem a little stiff and while the BMW 3-series generally has controlled body movement, it may be slightly less so in the standard suspension.
That said, the sheer speed and acceleration of the BMW 3-series should more than make up for any minor flaws. With the 335i 3.0-litre turbo petrol engine, you can reach speeds of up to 60mpg in just 5.5 seconds, putting the BMW 3-series comfortably above its equivalent competitors.
MPG, Running costs & emissions:
In line with every other aspect of this line of cars, the BMW 3-series offers a superb range of engines in regards to fuel economy and emissions.
BMW takes pride in the fact that none of the BMW 3-series diesel engines emit more than 120g/km of CO2 and none of the petrol models exceed 149g/km of CO2. The most impressive engine is definitely the 320d EfficientDynamics, which emits only 109g/km of CO2 and yet returns nearly 70mpg, helping keep tax and running costs low.
This EfficientDynamics technology and the decrease in weight by 30kg from the older versions have allowed this range to become both more powerful and economic than its competitors such as the Audi A4 and the Mercedes C-class. While the Audi A3 might be cheaper than the BMW 3-series initially, the latter will hold its value for longer, giving you a decent selling price later on.
With BMW, you wouldn’t expect anything less than high quality, and the BMW 3-series will not let you down. While the changes to the outside may not seem hugely different from older versions of the same range, it is the inside that makes it truly stand out from both its predecessors and its competitors.
The cabin of the BMW 3-series is both luxurious and spacious. The driving position is practical, comfortable and easily adjustable. Sporting a trim, polished dashboard with simple, coloured onscreen menus, the driver can easily control the settings of the car without taking their eyes off the road.
The boot of the BMW 3-series is also roomy, and the increased distance between the wheels of the newest version give passengers travelling in the back more space. The BMW 3-series comes with standard features controlled by an iDrive system for ease. These include accessories such as climate control, Bluetooth, digital radio and an iPod connector, but extras such as rear parking sensors and automatic headlights or windscreen wipers can be added at an extra cost.
Overall, the BMW 3-series might be at the higher end of your budget, but the newer models look slick both inside and out, outdoing rivals like Mercedes C-class in smoothness and matching rivals like the Audi A4 in road noise and comfort.
Awarded the maximum 5 start rating in the Euro NCAP crash tests, the BMW 3-series comes with 6 airbags, electronic stability control, dynamic stability control, cornering brake control, dynamic brake control and dynamic traction control.
All of this helped the BMW 3-series match the Audi A4 in adult occupant and pedestrian protection scores and beat the Mercedes C-class for child protection. The Lexus IS did however score more highly overall than the BMW 3-series but this was due to the 8 airbags present in this model as oppose to the reasonable 6 found in the BMW.
While the BMW 3-series fell behind its Mercedes and Audi equivalents in the 2013 Driver Power rankings for reliability, its safety is to be commended. You can also boost the safety of this series by adding extra features available such as the Active Security Package, automatic brakes and a blindspot monitor, making the BMW 3-series great for businessmen and families alike.