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BMW 3-Series Saloon running costs and reliability

2012 - 2019 (change model)
Running costs rating: 4 out of 54.0

Written by Parkers' experts Published: 6 June 2019 Updated: 3 September 2023

Miles per pound (mpp)

Reliable fuel consumption data for comparison purposes is not available for this model.
What is miles per pound?

Fuel economy

A more stringent standard for fuel economy (WLTP) was introduced from September 2017, and this model was not required to undergo that test. Its fuel economy measured under the previous test system was 31 - 68 mpg. However these figures are less likely to be achievable in real world driving and so should never be compared to another car's mpg which was measured under the newer, more realistic WLTP system.
View mpg & specs for any version
  • Real-world efficiency is a 3 Series strong point
  • 320d ED the best for long distance economy
  • Plug-in 330e best for urban use

BMW 3 Series: what will it cost to run?

Grabbing the headlines as the cheapest BMW 3 Series Saloon to run is the plug-in petrol-electric hybrid, the 330e. Thanks to its theoretical range of 25 miles on electrical power, if you live in an urban area it’s possible to run one using very little in the way of fossil fuels.

Officially it’s got a claimed consumption figure of 148.7mpg when fitted with 16- and 17-inch wheels.

More likely to suit drivers who have longer, motorway-based journeys making up the bulk of their travel is the diesel-powered 320d EfficientDynamics. Stick to the Plus specification – equivalent to SE in the rest of the range – and the quoted efficiency figure is 74.3mpg when fitted with automatic transmission.

The one to avoid? No surprise that the M3 Saloon – with the standard manual gearbox – is the thirstiest, but given its performance an official quote of 32.1mpg doesn’t sound too horrific.

Many 3 Series models are fitted with technology to reduce fuel consumption, including active grilles that blank-off air flow to the engine when it’s not required, improving aerodynamic efficiency.

Servicing is also reasonable providing you go to a specialist. The car itself will determine when a service is due, but typically expect a diesel version to go for two years between visits to the dealership.

Larger 18- and 19-inch rims might look the part on a sports saloon, but consider the additional cost of the more expensive rubber that they’ll require.

BMW 3 Series: will it be eco-friendly?

There’s no purely electric BMW 3 Series Saloon meaning the version with the lowest CO2 emissions is the 330e plug-in hybrid when ordered in SE specification. Here it emits just 44g/km of CO2.

If a hybrid won’t suit your regular drives then the 320d EfficientDynamics in Plus specification with an automatic gearbox is rated at 99g/km of CO2.

Worst in the range is the M3 Saloon with manual transmission – it’s the only model in the range quoted at over 200g/km with a figure of 204g/km.

  • Significant number of recalls already
  • Many related to similar issues
  • All remedial work should be complete

BMW 3 Series: will it be reliable?

Think BMW and you inevitably think high-quality German engineering, so you’d expect the 3 Series Saloon to follow suit and be ultra-reliable. Our owners’ reviews appear to back this claim up, with a single one-star review of the 39 that have been left. The vast majority are five-star reviews.

Quite sobering then to learn that since this generation’s arrival in 2012, various versions have been subjected to 15 recalls by the DVSA vehicle inspectorate.

Six of those recalls have related to problems with engines not functioning correctly, with further issues related to the rear suspension and the driveshaft.

The electrical power steering system has been the cause of three further recalls while airbag and seatbelt maladies have resulted in two more each.

On the positive side, if you’re considering buying a used 3 Series then all of this remedial work should have been undertaken, but it’s worth double-checking with a BMW dealer.

Ongoing running costs

Road tax £0 - £570
Insurance group 18 - 50
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