Buying a BMW 3 series car used to be a no-brainer due to its affordability. Another factor was its performance against the price tag.
Even though Audi and Mercedes have now closed the gap, the BMW is still an excellent choice. This is due to its driving fun, classy interiors and again, l tax rates.
I list its pros and cons below
Space in the BMW 3
The 3-series is roomy enough to keep four six-footers happy, but is tight for a fifth person.
BMW charges extra if you want rear seats that fold flat, so it’s just as well the boot is easily big enough to swallow large suitcases or a set of golf clubs.
Unlike previous versions of the 3-series, the latest model has lots of in-car storage.
Comfort in the BMW 3
The BMW 3 is pretty good at absorbing bumps and pushes. But, it would be wise to avoid sports suspension to experience that. The sports suspension is standard in the M sports version.
You might also want to consider electric seat adjustment if more than one person regularly drives the car, because the standard manual controls are fiddly. However, once you’ve got the seat where you want it, you’ll find it very comfortable and supportive.
The diesel engines in the 3-series are smoother than the ones in the Mercedes C-class, but they still sound clattery when you’re driving around town.
Fortunately, they settle down on the motorway, and you don’t hear many road or suspension noise, so the 3-series is a fairly relaxing long-distance cruiser.
Dashboard Styling of the BMW 3
You operate most functions by scrolling through logical onscreen menus using a rotary dial that’s positioned just behind the gearstick, where it’s easy to reach. And there are shortcut buttons that you can programme to take you straight to the functions you use most often.
The way the screen is positioned high on the dash is also welcome because that means you can always keep half an eye on the road.
And most of the materials in the 3-series feel very classy.
Driving Ease about the BMW 3
All-around visibility is better than it is in many rival saloons, so you shouldn’t have any trouble parking – particularly if you go for a car with reversing sensors.
Four-wheel drive is also available on some versions of the 3-series, but you don’t need this unless you live in a part of the country that regularly gets snow.
Instead, I’d recommend spending your money on the super-slick auto gearbox; the manual is rather stiff.
The fun of driving them is one of the main reasons for choosing a 3-series, and the latest version doesn’t disappoint.
It’s particularly good when fitted with the optional Adaptive M Sport suspension, because this helps the car stay more composed in bends. But whether you have it or not, the 3-series inspires huge confidence thanks to its precise and well-weighted steering.
As long as you steer clear of the 316d version, the 3-series accelerates strongly when you put your foot down.
Reliability of the BMW 3 series
BMW offers a three-year, unlimited-mileage warranty, which is better than that offered by Audi and on a par with Jaguar and Mercedes-Benz – but when cheaper saloons from more mainstream manufacturers are offered with even longer warranties, it does feel a little stingy.
Once 3-series was the most fuel-efficient car in its class, but with the arrival of the parsimonious new Mercedes C-class, that’s no longer the case.
The Mercedes matches or betters every equivalent version of the 3-series on fuel economy. Although, it doesn’t come with as wide a choice of engines.
What’s more, Audi’s recent release of the A4 Ultra means it’s caught up to the 3-series too, although other models are thirstier.
All of which is worth noting, but doesn’t mean the 3-series is no longer an efficient car. Official figures point to more than 70mpg on the combined cycle from the most economical version – and in our experience, real-world figures aren’t too far off that mark.
Safety of the BMW 3
Like the Audi A4 and Mercedes C-class, the 3-series was awarded the maximum five-star crash rating by car safety specialists Euro NCAP. Plus it scored better than both these rivals for adult occupant and pedestrian protection, while matching them for child protection.
The 3-series comes with an electronic stability control systems. This is designed to help you avoid an accident in the first place.
There are additional driver aids on the options list. They include a system that warns you if a vehicle enters your blind spot. Another automatically applies the brakes if it looks like you’re going to run into the vehicle in front.
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