BMW 3 Series review; the compact executive saloon gets updated
How do you update a market-leading model? We find out as Chris Lilly tests the new BMW 3 Series.
After 40 years, BMW’s latest 3 Series has quite some heritage to live up to. It is almost the ubiquitous compact executive saloon.
Always popular in the leasing market, this latest version has a traditional mix of petrol and diesel engines. Joining them at a later date will be a plug-in hybrid (PHEV) model too.
A broad range of options will be available to leasing customers then, with diesel making up the bulk of the range to begin with. BMW offers the 318d, 320d, and 330d initially, plus the 320i & 330i petrols, and 330e PHEV.
Power outputs range from 150hp to 265hp in diesel models, 184hp and 258hp in the petrols, and the 330e provides 252hp. Power goes to either the rear wheels, or all four corners in xDrive specification.
What’s the BMW 3 Series like to drive?
Tested was the entry level 318d, which has all the performance you might need to be honest. Power is put through a six-speed automatic transmission, which is quick to change and rarely caught out.
Some will always want more power, but a respectable 0-62mph time and top speed will be plenty for most leasing customers. It feels pretty sporty too, even with the least powerful engine under the bonnet.
Key to this is the handling, a famous BMW 3 Series trait. It’s great to drive, with precise steering, a great level of feedback, and springs that perform well across the board.
The ride can be harsher than rivals on poor road surfaces in town. Otherwise, the 3 Series is well pitched between agility and comfort.
Looking at BMW 3 Series costs?
Official fuel economy is quoted at 53.3mpg from BMW. There was little in the test drive to say that’s not a reasonable figure for mixed driving either.
Longer motorway stints – where the 3 Series is at home – means that figure will likely be bettered. However, a combination of town, country, and fast roads saw the trip computer showing a low-50s score.
To tax, VED rates are standard for the market, though business lease customers will see significant benefit in kind savings from the 330e PHEV model.
Stylish Sport trim was fitted to the test model, which is a popular leasing specification. It adds a few design tweaks inside and out and sits in the middle of the range, between standard SE trim and M Sport specification.
BMW 3 Series verdict
BMW’s new 3 Series looks set to be another successful model. There are no signs that the German company has messed anything up, and subtle changes across the board have boosted the overall package.
High mileage drivers will do well with the 318d, though many leasing customers will opt for the 320d with a bit more punch. Whatever the engine, it remains the first stop for customers looking at leasing a compact executive saloon.
BMW 3 Series leasing offers
1st Choice Vehicle Finance has the BMW 3 Series available from £284.38 + VAT on a BMW 330e M Sport 4dr Auto deal. Contact us on 01323 489806 or [email protected] to find out more and discuss your BMW leasing requirements.
BMW 3 Series details
Model tested: BMW 318d Sport
Power: 150hp 0-62mph: 8.4 seconds
Top speed: 140mph
CO2 emissions: 116g/km
Fuel economy: 53.3mpg
BIK rate (19/20): 30%