The cabin has that strongly driver-focused ambience you experience in any BMW, and the furnishings are very good quality and tastefully designed.
Comfort and Refinement
Overall this is a quiet, civilised and very comfortable car. With this two-litre diesel version you do get a bit of a rattle from under the bonnet on start-up, but as the engine warms and the pace quickens this settles down and general refinement is pretty good.
The cabin has that strongly driver-focused ambience you experience in any BMW, and the furnishings are very good quality and tastefully designed. There are some details that jar: the flow of lines across the dash front and around the doors is not as fluid as in some rival prestige models. In this Sport model the design is tasteful, but we are less keen on the ‘Modern’ trim used in some other versions, which includes dash panels that resemble corrugated cardboard.
The seats are well contoured and supportive, with plenty of adjustment that enables you to achieve a
very comfortable driving position. It feels somewhat tailored around a tall male driver, though. If you are short of stature, it can take a little longer to set the seat and steering wheel to the most suitable combination.
Safety and Security
The new BMW 3-Series has yet to be tested for Euro NCAP, but its predecessor launched in 2005 scored the full five stars for occupant safety in the crash test programme, and this one has been built to achieve the same high level. There are front, side and head airbags for the driver and front seat passenger, and head airbags are also provided for passengers on either side in the rear. There is a full package of electronic safety aids for the driver: as well as dynamic stability control, there is brake drying, brake pre-tensioning, cornering brake control, dynamic traction control, electronic differential lock and hill-start assist.
The car comes with a standard Thatcham category 1 alarm system with remote control and an electronic engine immobiliser.
This latest BMW 3-Series has moved upmarket and is equipped to match. The car comes equipped with a BMW Professional radio with single CD player and a six-speaker, 4x25w loudspeaker system. Bluetooth, Aux and USB interfaces are provided. Other standard kit includes rear parking sensors, run-flat tyres and ambient lighting. There is an iDrive controller on the centre console and a 6.5-inch colour display screen.
Extra kit, such as the optional Head-Up Display, which is a first in a car this class, bumps up the final price, and with all its extras included our test car was almost £40,000.
- Mercedes C Class
- Jaguar XF
- Audi A4
What We Liked
- Excellent driving dynamics
- ‘Driver’s car’ feel with rear-wheel-drive and 50/50 weight balance
- Svelte styling, looks good on the road
- High class cabin
- Efficient engines with good fuel economy
What We Disliked
- Slight diesel rattle on start-up
- Cheap-looking corrugated trim in some versions
What We Would Like To See
- A good weather forecast for next winter, rear-wheel-drive doesn’t like snow
BMW certainly knows how to make a car enjoyable to drive. The new sixth generation 3-Series looks good and drives beautifully, it delivers a very satisfying experience behind the wheel. This new model is more efficient than its predecessor, with a range of turbocharged engines that are more fuel efficient. BMW claims that it is “the ultimate sports saloon”, and that does not seem too outrageous a claim.23 April 2012
BMW 3 Series Road Test Data
|Model Reviewed||BMW 3-series 320d Sport|
|Body Type||5-door Saloon|
|Performance (manufacturers data)|
|0 - 62 mph||7.5 seconds|
|Top Speed||146 mph|
|CO2 Emissions (NEDC Figures)||g/km|
|Economy (NEDC Figures)|
|Extra Urban||74.3 mpg|
|Euro NCAP Rating||5 Star|
|Warranty||3 years / unlimited|
|Price (when tested on the 23/04/12)||£29,080|