- The 3 Series range is absolutely massive
- We guide you through the decision-making process
- Find out which BMW 3 Series we'd choose
The BMW 3 Series is almost the Holy Grail for company car drivers. It’s got low running costs, is comfortable, fantastic to drive and it boasts the brand cache of that blue and white badge.
It’s also extremely difficult to choose one. At last count on the Parkers website we list eight equipment levels, ten engines, the option of rear- or four-wheel drive, a pair of gearboxes and a total of 105 models to choose from.
As you can tell, picking the right one for you is no mean feat. Worry not though; Parkers is here to help.
First of all, let’s look at engines. It’s important you choose the right one, as this dictates how much money the car will cost you to run. You need one with good fuel economy and low CO2 emissions, but if at all possible you don’t want to sacrifice too much performance – a 3 Series is a driver’s car, after all.
With that in mind, we believe the 320d is the one to go for. It’s available with as little as 109g/km CO2 emissions, which means tax bills are pretty low, but it’ll also cover 0-62mph in 7.9 seconds and hit 143mph.When compared to the 318d and even the slowest 3 Series – the 316d – those emissions are still the lowest on offer.
It’s got decent fuel economy too, with its claimed 68.9mpg on the combined cycle trumping everything else in the range. You won’t see that much in the real world, but 55mpg isn’t too unrealistic.
So, automatic or manual? We reckon you’ll love the assured feel of the six-speed manual gearbox, but don’t discount the excellent BMW eight-speed auto either. It makes for a seriously smooth experience, and it shifts gears almost seamlessly. You’ll pay a £5 per month premium for the pleasure, though.
Although BMW offers a four-wheel drive system (called xDrive, in case you were wondering), we’d steer clear of that and the penalty in CO2 emissions. Fitting a set of winter tyres is a much better option if you’re worried about poor weather hampering your progress.
Now that we’ve got the bare bones of our car decided upon, it’s time to pick out the kit we want. Since the aforementioned low CO2 emissions are only available on the EfficientDynamics models of the 3 Series, we’re going to suggest that is the one you pick. It includes luxuries such as cruise control, Bluetooth connectivity and climate control.
We’d suggest you upgrade to the Business Advanced pack too though – the extra £990 on the P11d value isn’t going to push your monthly bills up a huge amount, but the sat-nav and enhanced Bluetooth systems mean it makes the car far more versatile.
Any other optional extras are – as the name suggests – optional. They may improve the car and make your life easier, but beware. It can push your monthly bills up significantly. It’s possible to add eye-watering amounts to the car’s P11d value, so make sure you work it all about beforehand.
Our choice is the BMW 320d EfficientDynamics saloon with the six-speed manual gearbox and Business Advanced package.
That little lot will cost you £77 per month in this tax year and £82 per month for 2014/15.