Parkers overall rating: 4.5 out of 5 4.5

Should you buy one?

BMW didn't reinvent the wheel with the 3 Series, nor did it need to. It’s easy and comfortable to drive – though no less involving than previous versions of the car – and much quieter inside too, while the latest technology is employed for multimedia and drivetrain functions make it feel bang up to date. It's just a shame the dashboard doesn't look anything special, but there's little to complain about in terms of quality. 

It's even a practical option for young families - there's more rear space than in its Mercedes-Benz C-Class and Audi A4 rivals, and the boot is about as good as you can get in this class. There's a good selection of engines and trim levels to choose from, from frugal diesels and smooth petrols to eco-focused plug-in hybrids and higher-performance models. 

The BMW 3 Series remains the best compact executive saloon you can buy, and with such a broad range of engine and trim options, buyers have never had it so good.

What we like

Sharp driving and a great range of engines and transmissions. Its image for great dynamics is well deserved, and the overall efficiency is a welcome additional bonus.

What we don't like

The interior isn't as friendly and easy to use as the Audi A4, while the infotainment set-up doesn't work as well as the Mercedes-Benz C-Class (which itself isn't perfect).

Which 3 Series is best for you?

If you’re on a budget, the 318d and 320d have similar list prices, while the 318d will also prove the cheapest to run thanks to its frugal diesel engine. If you’re purchasing on PCP finance, the figures when the 3 Series was launched were slightly higher than the equivalent Audi A4 and Mercedes-Benz C-Class. However, that’s to be expected with a new car, and the differences aren’t as dramatic as you’d expect. In time, the figures will likely equalise and the BMW could become good value compared with the competition.

If you’re a company car driver, the 330e plug-in hybrid will be the most appealing thanks to CO2 emissions of just 39g/km, which should mean affordable BIK costs compared with a diesel or petrol model.

The 330d offers the most appealing performance figures with a 0-62mph time of just 5.5 seconds. However, in time, there will be a high-performance M3 to top the range with some serious performance expected. Bridging the gap between normal 3 Series models and the M3 is the M340i xDrive, with a 0-62mph time of 4.4 seconds.

Buy a new, nearly new or used BMW 3-Series

See all the current BMW 3-Series deals on Parkers Cars For Sale
See all the current BMW 3-Series 330e plug-in hybrid deals on Parkers Cars For Sale

Further reading