The Best Compact Executive Car of 2013, the latest BMW 3 Series is better built and a great drive...
The BMW 3 Series is now in its sixth generation, and it's better than ever thanks to its blend of upmarket image, great driving dynamics and low running costs. however thanks to the Mercedes C- Class and Audi A4 being more and more competitive, it's got a lot more work to do to be the best in class.
The 3 Series is very well equipped and it's more spacious than it has been in the past, and partly thanks to an excellent range of petrol and diesel engines it's a very refined and comfortable way to travel as well. It's also good at being an executive car that has been give the Best Compact Executive award in our 2013 ceremony.
Available as either a saloon or as an estate or 3 series GT, which mixes the practicality of the touring with the sportiness of the saloon - but the bulbous rear might be a stumbling block for some, the car is available in eight specifications: ES, SE, Sport, EfficientDynamics, Modern, EfficientDynamics business, luxury and the ever-popular BMW 3 Series M Sport model.
The BMW 3 Series can be brought with four-wheel drive in the UK now, which means buyers who would usually only be looking at Audi's quattro models have more chosen when they come to buy a new car. The BMW 4 Series is closely related to the 3 Series, being a coupe version that replaces the precious 3 Series Coupe. There will also be a BMW 4 Series Convertible to replace the precious 3 Series Convertible. BMW has also reveled the new BMW M3 saloon alongside the new BMW M4, and it will feature a storming 3.0-litre twin-turbo straight six engine with 425bhp.
The styling - Given the success of the 3 Series, its not surprising that BMW didn't mess with a winning formula for the latest model. The traditional saloon shape is given a sporty twist courtesy of a purposeful stance, low bonnet line and smart double-kidney grille.
Elsewhere, the M Sport styling package includes 18-inch alloys, a subtle body-kit, gloss-black trim for the window surrounds and discreet M badges on the front wings. However, you'll pay £710 for the xenon lights with their distinctive LED rings - These are standard on both the Mercedes C-Class and Audi A4.
Inside, there's a minimalist wraparound dash, with only a few buttons, clear digital read-outs and a large center console screen that's controlled using the iDrive scroll wheel and buttons next to the gearlever. Overall, the dash is easy to get along with, although the orange climate control display looks dated and it doesn't feel as luxurious as the C-Class.
Still, no complaints about the classy materials and solid finish, while M sport cars boast supportive Dakota leather sports seats, Bluetooth, Cruise Control and a DAB radio.
The Driving - BMW has forged a reputation for making fun-to-drive cars, and the 3 Series is no exception. The excellent grip and direct steering mean that it's easy to keep control of the car at all times. A system called Drive performance control offers three different modes to choose from - EcoPro, comfort and sport. It's not too hard to tell what each one does - EcoPro is set up for economy, while comfort and sport do what is says on the tin. Variable ratio Sport steering and Adaptive Drive dampening are available as optional extras, too.