- Superb handling
- Excellent engine options
- Class leading infotainment
- Long options list
- Standard safety kit not as good as some rivals
- Very little else
BMW’s best-selling compact executive saloon is better than ever
The BMW 3 Series is one of BMW’s longest running and most iconic cars. First introduced in 1975, the BMW has consistently set the standard in the compact executive saloon class. Following BMW’s mantra of the ‘ultimate driving machine’, the rear-wheel drive 3 Series is one of the best-handling production cars out there. Add in fantastic practicality, an impeccable safety record, and beautiful design features both inside and out, and it’s not hard to see why the 3 Series is one of Europe’s best-selling executive saloons.
Recently updated in 2012, the new 3 Series improves on space, and adds new and improved engines to its range.
Exceptional quality, class-leading infotainment
The dashboard of the 3 Series is a wonderfully designed concoction of some of the finest soft touch plastics, gloss-black finishes, and chrome detailings out there. It’s well thought out, easy to use, and has an incredible feeling of solidity. Being behind the wheel of the 3 Series is an absolute pleasure, even on entry level models. Switchgear is impeccably well damped as well, giving the 3 Series a genuine prestige feel. It might not be quite as pretty as the Audi A4, but it’s certainly not far behind.
When it comes to space, the 3 Series also scores highly. With a load space that’s roughly the same as the Mercedes C-Class and the Audi A4, there’s plenty of room for the weekly shop, the golf clubs, or a couple of mid-sized suitcases. Its shape is a little bit more awkward than its rivals, making it slightly less user-friendly, but it’s certainly not going to leave you disappointed.
Equipment levels on the 3 Series are also pretty decent. The entry-level SE trim comes with dual-control climate and cruise control, rear parking sensors, alloy wheels, and automatic lights and wipers. There’s also a breathtakingly brilliant Infotainment system, which is up there with the best. It’s incredibly intuitive, which makes controlling the sat-nav, DAB radio, and Bluetooth connectivity that also come as standard, an absolute pleasure.
As you’d expect from a BMW, the interior of the 3 Series oozes with quality. Exceptional design, practical usability, and a fantastic infotainment system, make the cabin of the 3 Series one of the best in its class.
Excellent handling and comfort
The BMW 3 Series has always been known as the true driver's car in its class, and the latest version is no different, even with increasingly tough competition. Compared to its rivals, the 3 Series is a much more sporty experience. The rear-wheel drive chassis makes for an entertaining drive through winding country roads, and with sharp, intuitive steering, it’s also incredibly easy to handle. Even the heaviest hybrid version handles better than most rivals.
What it contributes in sportiness, it doesn’t lose in comfort. The latest 3 series features a new and improved suspension system, that irons out all but the nastiest of potholes with ease. There’s also very little in the way of body roll, leaving you with a feeling of safety, that will allow you to put your foot on the accelerator just that bit harder. Slip it into Sport mode, and you’ll be grinning from ear-to-ear.
Gearbox options on the 3 Series come in two guises: a 6-speed manual and an 8-speed automatic. The 6-speed manual comes as standard on most models in the range, and is sharp and precise. The 8-speed automatic really is a piece of engineering brilliance though. Arguably one of the best on the market out there at the minute, if not the best, the 8-speed shifts with ease up and down the gears, complementing the driving experience impeccably. If you can find a 3 Series with this transmission, you’re on to a winner.
Great range of engines, all offer strong performance
When it comes to deciding how you want to power your BMW 3 Series, you’ve got three options: petrol, diesel, or a fantastic diesel-hybrid. There are different power figures throughout the range, offering everything from extreme speed, quality eco-credentials, to unbelievable fuel-consumption figures.
If power is your primary concern, look no further than the BMW M3 DCT. This petrol-powered monster packs in 431hp, that will get you flying from 0-62mph in just a smidgen over four seconds. The M3 is a seriously fast car, and one for true petrolheads. If this is a little too much, the 335d xDrive offers up 313hp, and a 0-62mph time of just 4.8 seconds. It’s almost as quick as the M3, but offers the efficiency of a diesel engine.
When it comes to eco-friendly cars, BMW offers a couple of great options. The new 330e plug-in hybrid offers exceptionally low C02 emissions at just 44g/km, which falls way under the zero-tax bracket of below 100g/km. This is a seriously good car for the environment. BMW claims that you can also get a ridiculous 148.7mpg out of it, making it one of the cheapest cars to run on the market. For those who don’t fancy a hybrid, the 320d EfficientDynamics Plus model also ticks both boxes. With just 99g/km of CO2 being emitted, you won’t be paying any road tax, and at 74.3mpg, you’ll save money on fuel as well.
Whichever engine you choose to go for in your 3 Series, it’s sure to be one of the best on the market. With BMW’s exhaustive history in engine technology, it’s almost guaranteed to be a perfect accompaniment to the 3 Series fantastic chassis.
Full marks in NCAP safety tests with decent safety features as standard
Like nearly every car in its class, the 3 Series easily reached the highest possible 5-star NCAP safety rating. It also beats both the Audi A4, and the Mercedes C-Class hands down. As standard, the 3 Series comes with six airbags, stability control, traction control, and tyre pressure monitoring. You do however have to pay for city braking, something that comes as standard with some rivals, so this is a little disappointing. Nevertheless, the 3 Series is one of the safest cars in its class, and will keep both you and your family safe from harm.
Competitive running costs
The BMW 3 Series range offers cars that are surprisingly cheap to run. This obviously varies from model to model, but the majority of 3 Series come with relatively low C02 emissions. Fuel consumption throughout the range is equally impressive, so long as you factor out the supercar-rivalling M3.
Insurance wise, it again depends on which model you go for. The range starts at insurance group 18 for the 318d SE, right the way up to group 45 for the M3. These are actually a little bit cheaper than the Audi A4 overall, so you certainly won’t be paying more than you need to for your 3 Series.
Depreciation after the first year is actually pretty impressive for the 3 Series. But with first-year depreciation as high as 40%, you’re better off opting for an inspected used equivalent.
The BMW 3 Series is one of the world’s best-selling executive saloon for good reason. It combines excellent handling, superb interior, fantastic engines, and impeccable safety, to form a package that is difficult to resist.
Buying a used BMW 3 Series online with Carspring
If you’re after a used BMW 3 Series for sale, it can all feel like a bit of an ordeal. What, with long days spent around gigantic car supermarkets, or time spent trawling through classified websites, looking for that ideal used 3 Series. Carspring makes it simple. Buy your next used BMW online with the touch of a button. Simply decide on the model you want and choose how you want to pay.
Looking to finance your used 3 Series? Not a problem, we work with our carefully selected finance partners to ensure that, if you’re paying monthly for your used BMW 3 Series, you know you’re getting the best rates. What’s more, with any Carspring used BMW, you also get our 14-day money-back guarantee and 6 months’ free Carspring Warranty. Plus, you don’t have to leave your home. We’ll deliver your used BMW to you at a time and place of your choice.
*This is an approximate figure based on the range of the car’s list price and the AA’s average 1st year depreciation cost of 40%.