BMW 3-Series: Practical, premium family car

Clever touches

Our BMW has proved surprisingly practical including carrying two adults and two teenagers plus all their holiday kit for a couple of weeks away in Cornwall. In fact, the saloon's boot is only 20 litres smaller than its larger 4x4 sibling the X3, which has 480 litres.

Inside the car, there are plenty of practical touches. The central divide in the rear seats is very useful for the kids to stash drinks. There's good legroom, if not loads and plenty of room in the rear for two adults. Up front, the cupholders are useful though large bottles or cups won't fit.

In the boot, there is a very useful cubby hole under the boot lid floor. In it I can fit a couple of shopping bags and their contents won't spill across the boot. These may be small points but it is this detail that makes the difference between an enjoyable ownership experience and one you grin and bare.

One aim of this test was to see whether an entry-level BMW 3-series could provide a practical, prestige family car experience without having to resort to ticking every box on the options list. The 318d Edition ES does that thanks to a good slug of useful standard kit including rear parking sensors, multi-function steering wheel (no need to take your hands off the wheel to operate the radio) and leather interior.

Okay, it would be nice to have an intergrated sat nav and six CD changer, but I've found aftermarket sat navs are a lot cheaper and as useful, although you do have to contend with wires trailing down the dash. At a saving of over a £1000 I'm happy to put up with that.

Current mileage: 7899

Average mpg: 51.7