BMW has created one of the best-selling executive cars with their 3 Series model, so it’s no surprise that the latest 7th generation version has made an appearance on the best-selling list of cars so far in 2021.
The sporty 3 Series has been around for over 45 years and during that time BMW has consistently made improvements to ensure it ranks highly within the fiercely competitive segment.
There are still petrol and diesel variants available including the 320i, 320d, and the more powerful 330i and 330d, as well as a 330e plug-in hybrid version which runs for around 30 miles on the pure electric battery.
The 3 Series scored well during its rigorous safety testing, and as with all BMW’s, there is a good amount of safety equipment that comes as standard. However, if you are looking for extra peace of mind, the optional Driving Assistant Professional Pack is something to consider. Lane-keeping assistance, blind-spot monitoring and cross-traffic alerts help to further reduce any accidents.
While the model boasts very reactive steering, suspension varies depending on the trim level you opt for. If you are considering the top-level M Sport trim, you’ll be forced to decide between sportiness and comfort due to the firm suspension. Unless you can go all out with the optional adaptive suspension which toughens or relaxes suspension with the touch of a button.
Alternatively, there are two other trim levels to choose between – SE and Sport. Standard features include high-intensity LED headlights, sat-nav, Bluetooth, DAB radio, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone mirroring. A sharp 8.8inch infotainment touchscreen is available on the SE and Sport trims, with this boosted to 10.3inch on the M Sport trim line. Regardless of trim, it is touchscreen operated or controlled with the rotary iDrive which is located between the front seats, and you’ll find it to be much more reactive than the Mercedes C-Class rival.
The dashboard in general is very easy to use. However, the optional tech pack is highly recommendable, providing you with a head-up display, wireless smartphone charging, a Harman Kardon premium sound system and gesture control. ‘What is gesture control?’ we hear you ask. Well, this responsive system allows you to answer phone calls and adjust volume, along with many other functions, by making hand gestures in the air.
A comfortable ride is on offer thanks to plenty of seat height adjustment and steering wheel movement and the seats are nice and supportive, although you do need to pay extra for adjustable lumbar support. From the driving position, forward visibility is good due to the slim front pillars. However, as with many estate models, rear visibility isn’t this car’s strong point due to chunkier pillars towards the rear. To compensate and assist with steering, front and rear parking sensors, a rear-view camera and BMW’s Parking Assistant system all come as standard.
While there isn’t really much to complain about when it comes to the interior, its plushness doesn’t quite match that of the Audi A4. In the front, it is spacious with generous head and legroom and a good amount of storage space. You’ll find that the rear is roomier than the Audi A4 or the Mercedes C-Class, however, if rear space is a big priority you may want to relinquish the premium badge in favour of the Skoda Superb.
There is a 40-20-40 rear seatback split, which you can fold down using handy levers inside the boot. In general boot size is good with a total of 480 litres of capacity, although it is worth mentioning that this is reduced by around one third in the plug-in hybrid model.
In terms of price, it sits nice and fairly between the C-Class and the A4, but it does manage to retain its resale value better than both rivals. The German carmaker also provides a three-year warranty which outdoes many offers within the class as it has no mileage limit. There is certainly plenty of plus points with the 3 Series, in a segment in which you’re already spoilt for choice.
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The 3 Series also features in our top 4 executive saloon cars for 2020. Click here to find out the other 3 models which made the list.