- Still one of the best, affordable driver’s cars on the planet
- Stylish design and packed with tech (even the sat nav lady is polite!)
- Wide choice of engines, trims and body styles
- You will be part of a big crowd of 3 Series drivers
- That huge grille still divides opinion
- Touchscreen controls can be fiddly
With a 45-year history and 16 million sales under its belt, the BMW 3 Series needs little introduction. But still it keeps evolving and with each incarnation we are treated to a little bit more.
Boasting a new, expressive design featuring that massive front grille that is met with the same response as Marmite, the latest 3 Series is offered in Saloon or Touring estate body styles.
Customers can choose from four petrol engines, including a plug-in hybrid variant, and two diesel engines that both feature mild-hybrid technology. Then at the top of the tree, sits a pair of high-performance M models.
All models feature an eight-speed Steptronic Sport automatic gearbox as standard and customers can choose from trims called Sport and M Sport
There is xDrive as standard on top trim levels and that brings all-wheel drive to the mix. In addition, all the 2022 cars feature the stunning new curved infotainment display along with the latest software.
The latest BMW 3 Series Touring looks dynamic from any approach with slimmer full LED headlights and daytime running lights arranged in an inverted L shape. Modified contours with new chrome double bars mean the kidney grille has a more powerful look (even though it still divides opinion due to its larger-than-life scale).
Flared wheel arches give the vehicle a more aggressive stance and M Sport models, such as the test car, also feature an M-specific rear apron, a large diffuser, deep air curtains, M Sport suspension, M Sport seatbelts lots of M badging and distinctive alloys.
The new-look cockpit’s highlight is the BMW Curved Display that sees a 12.3-inch information display behind the steering wheel merging into the 14.9-inch control display. It looks stunning and also features the latest-generation BMW Operating System 8.
Creature comforts are plentiful with leather, powered seats that can be heated along with the steering wheel. The slimmer-styled air vents look great and there is a wealth of on-board tech to explore.
Systems can be accessed via the touchscreen, traditional iDrive controller dial or the very effective personal assistant that can plot navigation routes, increase the temperature, open windows (or the sunroof), and much more.
Smartphones are easily connected and there is a pitch perfect Harmon Kardon surround sound system, sat nav and plenty more besides.
On The Road
Handling & Performance
We tested the BMW 3 Series Touring powered by a 2.0-litre petrol engine delivering 184hp and 300Nm of torque. It could complete the 0-62mph sprint in a very respectable 7.6 seconds and maxed out at 143mph. If you want or need more power, the M340i xDrive boasts 374hp and 500Nm of torque and that shaves three seconds off the 0-62mph time.
However, our model coped really well when put through its paces on a varied road route. The 3 Series has always been viewed as a great driving purist’s car and the latest model lives up to that billing.
The acceleration out the blocks is rapid and there is bundles of power on tap to overtake slower-moving vehicles. It’s beautifully grounded and balanced which makes country-lane driving more enjoyable and it’s a confident motorway cruiser too.
The eight-speed Steptronic Sport transmission, which is standard on all models, is super slick and there are paddles for added driver engagement, along with drive modes called Eco Pro, Comfort and Sport to alter the driving characteristics of the car. Sport really sharpens up the reactions.
Good all-round driver visibility is a bonus in busier settings and the driver assist systems such as the cruise control with brake function, along with the steering and lane control assist are ideal for long journeys. The innovative Active Navigation detects when a lane change for a motorway exit is needed and prepares the car for the manoeuvre. Clever stuff.
Space & Practicality
The BMW 3 Series Touring stretches 4,713mm in length, is 1,827mm wide and 1,440mm tall. It has a wheelbase of 2,851 and those dimensions result in a very spacious cabin with room in the back for two adults to sit comfortably – or three at a bit of a squeeze.
Anyone opting for the Touring version with its estate car styling will want to know about boot limits and they won’t be disappointed. It can swallow 500 litres of kit with all seats in an upright position. Drop the 60:40 split-folding rear seats and that capacity increases to 1,510 litres. For added convenience, the rear seats can be folded forwards automatically via a switch in the boot.
In addition, there are plenty of practical areas scattered throughout the car to store bits and pieces. These include a glovebox, door pockets with a compartment to hold a bottle, seat back nets, a central bin, front and rear cup holders and a wireless charging pad.
There are two USB ports in the front of the car and a further two for back seat passengers to use.
Our car was fitted with a towbar as an optional extra costing £1,190 and the 3 Series Touring can pull a trailer weighing up to 1.6 tonnes.
The latest BMW line-up costs from £37,805 for the 320i Saloon and rises to £54,805 for the M340i xDrive model. Of course, there are all manner of optional extras and packs that can be added to fully personalise the car, but the price will climb quite steeply.
Our test model, the 320i M Sport Touring, cost £41,970, but options such as a panoramic glass sunroof (£1,190), an M Sport Pro Pack that introduced 19-inch black alloys, M adaptive suspension and sun protection glass (£2,800), plus a Comfort Pack, Technology Pack and Visibility Pack saw a final price-tag of £52,015.
Day-to-day running costs will prove quite expensive too with combined fuel economy, under WLTP testing, of 37.6-42.1mpg and carbon emissions of 151-169g/km. This CO2 figure would result in a first-year road tax bill of £585 dropping to the standard £165 fee after 12 months. However, as the car costs in excess of £40k, it is subject to an additional Government premium car tax levy of £355 for five years.
For business users, the Benefit in Kind is 35 per cent and the insurance rating for the test car is group 29.
The BMW 3 Series accounts for 14 per cent of the company’s sales worldwide and is still the best-selling BMW model in the UK. And that’s little wonder as it looks great, drives like a demon and boasts a beautifully styled interior featuring a stunning curved display screen and all the modern tech you could wish for. Even the sat nav is polite and says “please” when delivering directions!
If that’s not enough, the 3 Series Touring also covers all the practicality bases making it the ideal car for clocking up business miles or family breaks with absolutely no luggage restrictions whatsoever.
Request a BMW 3 Series test drive