BMW 3 Series - company car hero

  • BMW will launch a new 3 Series saloon later in 2012
  • We show you which would make the best company car
  • Compare petrol vs diesel vs eco diesel - which one wins?

The BMW 3 Series is one of the most popular company cars around right now, and in 2012 there’s a new one coming.

Although we haven’t driven it yet there are lots of figures available already, and there’s more than enough information around to decide which of the bunch would make the best company car.

The primary reason for choosing a company car is usually cost, and more precisely, the cost of company car tax. As a company car driver you’ll be aware that the lower the CO2, the lower the Benefit-in-Kind taxation threshold and hence the lower percentage of the car’s P11d price you’ll pay. In essence, the lower the CO2 the better. But this isn’t the be-all and end-all, because in the 3 Series’ case there’s a vast chasm between the price of the lowest-emitting car and some similar spec, yet non-eco, petrol and diesel models.

The 320d ED (Efficient Dynamics), with its 109g/km CO2 emissions, has a list price of £28,080 (P11d values have not been released yet) while the similar spec 116d SE, emitting 119g/km, costs £25,730 and the equivalent spec petrol model, the 320i SE, costs £25,860. That’s roughly a £2,000 premium for 10g/km.

So how important can 10g/km be?

Let’s crunch the numbers and you’ll see that over the next two years a 320d ED starts making the most sense.

The following table shows Benefit-in-Kind cost per month for the three cars:

  2011/12 2012/13 2013/14
320i SE £163 £171 £180
316d SE £111 £145 £154
320d ED £121 £140 £149


So, company car costs over the next 36 months will be £4,920 for the 316d SE and the 320d ED, and a massive £6,168 for the 320i SE. However, if BIK thresholds continue to drop in the years after 2013/2014 (the Government has yet to publish these but it's a reasonable assumption), in the fourth year of your lease you'll make a saving.

Now, let’s take a look at the performance and fuel economy statistics:

  Power/Torque 0-62mph Top Speed
320i SE 184bhp/270Nm 7.3s 146mph
316d SE 116bhp/260Nm 10.9s 126mph
320d ED 163bhp/380Nm 8s 143mph

So as you can see from the above tables, over the next three years the 320d ED is joint cheapest of the trio, is likely to be cheapest outright in the fourth year and although it doesn’t have the outright grunt of the petrol car, it isn’t a huge amount slower and is significantly quicker than the 316d SE.

In terms of fuel economy, BMW claims the 320d ED will return 68.9mpg on the combined cycle. Although the firm hasn’t released official figures for the other two cars at the time of writing, the trend is that if the CO2 emissions are lower the fuel economy figures will be higher. It follows then that the 3 Series ED should go for longer between fill-ups.

How does the 3 Series manage such impressive stats?

BMW has been at the forefront of efficiency enhanced motoring over recent years thanks to its ‘Efficient Dynamics’ technology. This is a combination of systems that serve to reduce CO2 emissions while improving fuel economy without sacrificing a huge amount of performance.

On the new 3 Series, Efficient Dynamics technology includes stop/start, brake energy regeneration, electric power steering, a gearshift indicator, lighter manufacturing materials, and reduced rolling-resistance tyres.

For further stories and information on all things BMW, why not download CAR Magazine’s A-Z of BMW in 2012 iPad app. The FREE app can be downloaded from the iTunes store, here