BMW 3-Series: Our new arrival

The BMW 3-Series

The BMW 3-Series is one of the most popular choices for budding executives as company transport - it's also a status symbol for those seeking entry into prestige saloons. But I want to look at the best compromise between economy and strong residual values.

So the hunt is on for a 3-Series model that will secure what is, for many, an aspirational buy at the lowest possible price. On paper the 318d Edition SE seems to tick the boxes. Despite the badge, this model is actually powered by the same 2.0-litre diesel engine as the 320d - but detuned to be more efficient.

The refined engine is frugal and provides enough power to be enjoyable to drive while the mid-level Edition SE trim comes with a good range of standard kit. This is actually a new trim, introduced in January 2008, and although it is £750 more expensive than the SE, it adds around £3000 of equipment.

Added extras...

These extras include Dakota leather upholstery and brushed aluminium trim, a three-spoke 'M' multi function leather steering wheel,17-inch V-spoke alloy wheels (currently standard on the 335i Coupe) and a choice of either Titanium Silver, Sparkling Graphite or Carbon Black paintwork. I opted for the latter - although close up it actually looks like a very dark blue.

Like the standard SE it comes well kitted out with rear parking sensors, dual-zone automatic air conditioning, electric windows front and back, cruise control and a cool exterior light package with illuminated door handles and ‘guide-you-home’ headlights.

This means I didn't need any options - so the final price of the car was £25,650. This is actually cheaper than the Ford Mondeo Titanium X Sport we also run in the Living With It section. Admittedly the Ford is better equipped but the BMW has the edge in terms of image.

Current mileage: 270

Average mpg: 43.8