Can the 3 series really improve on the last one, we find out
What is it? The 3 series is the most important vehicle in the BMW range and it’s a car we’ve had a long love affair with. BMW’s engineers have spent the past three years working on this new version, we like to think of it as refashioning almost perfection.
Who is it aimed at? The 3 series has always enjoyed an army of devoted fans in search of the ultimate driving experience. With the new version BMW has added super fuel economy to the mix to tempt even the more practical drivers.
Styling? The current BMW styling works best on the 3 series. The sculpted bonnet, the stretched kidney grill and the modern lines simply oozes sophistication.
Under the Bonnet? Our test car was the BMW 320d SE, likely to be one of the most popular choices in the new range. It has a top speed of 143 mph and dashes from 0 to 62 in a nifty 7.6 seconds.
What’s it like inside? Inside the increase in space is immediately apparent. The seats are supremely comfortable and the driving position almost perfect. The interior is familiar BMW, minimalist and simple yet purposeful. Thanks to the iDrive system all controls are easily accessed from one point. Rear passenger leg room has increased and boot space is larger (now up to 480 litres). All of this is a very welcome improvement on the previous model.
On the Road? Press the start button and instantly you are reminded why this is such an iconic car. It is an intoxicating car to drive and is perfectly balanced with a super refined engine. On the road it is lightning-quick and has the capacity to reassure and thrill in equal measure. The steering is incredibly accurate, the gear shift smooth and its road manners are impeccable.
And Safety? The 3 is equipped with a host of advanced technology that works to avoid a crash or in the case of a collision dramatically assist to reduce injury.
Options? Last november most efficient petrol engine to date, the BMW 320i EfficientDynamics joined the range and delivers 53.3mpg and emits just 124g/km CO2.
How about Fuel Economy? Although larger than the previous model it is also more fuel efficient. The combined fuel economy is a very impressive 62.8 mpg. Emissions are just 118g/km.
Okay so the verdict? Our love affair continues… the 3 series is a super car, it is fast, nimble and the handling is as good as ever. BMW have raised the bar again and the new 3 leaves rivals standing.
Why you’ll buy one? Outstanding efficiency; driving dynamics; rivals feel like yesterday’s car.
Why you won’t? Extensive options; Expensive options
Audi A4 £23,630
Mercedes C-Class £25,930
BMW 320d SE Saloon 2.0d
Engine: 1995cc diesel putting out 184bhp @ 4,000rpm and 380Nm of torque from 1,750rpm
Max speed: 143 mph
0-62 mph: 7.6 seconds
Model price range: £22,850 – £35,525
No of Doors: 5
Euro NCAP: Not tested
Fuel type: Diesel
Insurance group 1-50: 31
Fuel Economy (combined cycle): 62.8 mpg
Boot Capacity Seats up: 480 Litres
Car Seats: Isofix points for two car seats in the back, both simple to access
Service interval (miles): Variable
Warranty (years): 3
Warranty (miles): Unlimited