Viewed as the most successful BMW model ever, the 3-Series offers a sporting eye-catching stance and delivers an awesome drive. Packed throughout with class-leading technology and specifications, it’s clear to see just why it’s so popular.
The goodStyle, handling, technology and popularity
The badIt attracts too many boy racers
BMW 320d xDrive M Sport Touring (2019)
SUVs are definitely the fashionable ‘go-to’ models of choice for the masses these days, but there’s no doubting the appeal of the good old traditional estate car when it comes to a practical alternative.
And if you need further proof, simply check out the latest BMW 3 Series Touring model with its striking dynamic design, upgraded engines, improved handling ability and the very latest infotainment and connectivity systems.
The five-door estate model also has all the practicality bases covered with a boot capacity ranging from 500 to 1,500 litres, plus an array of storage compartments scattered throughout the car.
We tested out the 320d xDrive Touring model which was powered by a 2.0-litre diesel engine delivering 190hp and 400Nm of torque. This model, in M Sport guise, could sprint to 62mph from a standstill in 7.4 seconds and onto a maximum speed of 140mph, while delivering 49.6-51.4mpg (WLTP) with carbon emissions of 124g/km based on NEDC figures.
The new 3 Series Touring has had quite a growth spurt too – it’s longer, wider and taller, but perhaps the biggest news dimensions-wise, is the increase in wheelbase which results in a larger boot and extra space for all occupants.
Despite its load lugging capabilities, it’s worth remembering that this car does carry the BMW 3 Series badging and that means it needs to be able to live up to the legendary performance status associated with the name. And it does just that.
The powerful engine is mated to the latest generation eight-speed Steptronic automatic gearbox, which is ultra-smooth with sharp acceleration and instant bursts of pace to make light work of overtaking. There are steering wheel-mounted paddles for added fun and different driving modes called Eco Pro, Comfort and Sport alter the way the car reacts and responds.
The road holding is exceptionally good and the car is perfectly balanced as it fires through the country lanes. Body sway is non-existent and despite the ride being a tad firm at times, the suspension system does a very worthy job of smoothing out any bumps and dips along the way.
It’s a car that can effortlessly eat up motorway miles and then is happy to prove its agility when weaving through busy town centres with a park assist system to make parking problems a thing of the past.
There is ample room in the back of the car for three adults to sit comfortably with all occupants enjoying extra leg, shoulder and head space thanks to the increased size of the cabin.
And when it comes to on-board technology, this vehicle is packed to bursting with all the very latest kit.
Creature comforts include a pitch perfect Harman Kardon sound system, full smartphone connectivity, powered heated seats, a navigation system, wireless charging, Bluetooth, head-up display, a heated steering wheel and an automatic tailgate. There is also gesture control that allows you to use hand movements to adjust the volume on the sound system as well as answer or dismiss phone calls. It takes a little getting used to but is a clever feature.
The M Sport model boasts the BMW Live Cockpit Professional set-up which adds a larger high-resolution 12.3-inch instrument cluster behind the steering wheel and a bigger 10.25-inch touchscreen too. And special mention to the separate climate control switches which mean the temperature can be altered quickly and simply on the move without having to navigate a complicated touchscreen menu.
The car has a very premium feel to it with the finest leather upholstery, along with ambient lighting, soft-touch surfaces and neat decorative inlays.
And as you would expect, it comes packed with the same comprehensive list of safety features and driver assistance aids that helped the 3 Series saloon model achieve a maximum five stars when it was tested for its Euro NCAP safety rating.
So when you factor in its towing ability of up to 1.6 tonnes, the new 3 Series Touring vehicle is the ideal rival to a high-sided SUV. And if further convincing were needed, more than 1.7 million 3 Series Touring models have hit the roads since its launch back in 1987 so it’s clearly a very popular choice.
BMW 330e Sport Saloon
There’s no denying the overwhelming success and popularity of the BMW 3 Series, especially with business drivers up and down the country who clock up the hours of motorway miles behind the wheel, but now the car has even more appeal thanks to a hybrid version that can deliver a whopping 148mpg.
It’s called the 330e and the good news is it maintains all the striking design cues of all other 3 Series models apart from a few subtle design tweaks such as a couple of eDrive badges on the rear of the car and door sill, plus the additional plug-in charging port on the front wing.
The 330e is a head-turner with aggressive, yet athletic styling which is complemented by 17-inch alloys, LED headlights with high beam assist, sun protection glass, black mirror caps, LED foglights and BMW’s distinctive grille.
Move inside the cabin and it oozes premium build quality with a combination of the finest leathers and materials sourced and blended to create a truly sophisticated and upmarket feel. And there is a wealth of technology to be explored, including the likes of heated front sports seats, a pitch perfect sound system that is compatible with all modern devices, sat nav with real-time traffic updates, internet connectivity, Bluetooth, a heated steering wheel and plenty more besides.
The test car carried a £35,395 price-tag (£41,570 with options fitted) and in true 3 Series form could sprint from 0 to 62mph in a very quick 6.1 seconds and onto a maximum speed of 140mph. The official fuel economy figure is 148.7mpg and carbon emissions are set at 45g/km.
The 330e boasts a turbocharged 2.0-litre four-cylinder petrol engine delivering 181bhp and this is assisted by an electric motor which delivers an added 87bhp. There is a lithium ion battery mounted into the floor of the boot and the car can be charged via a flap mounted in the front wing. According to BMW the vehicle can be boosted to 80 per cent charge capacity in a little more than two hours using a wallbox charger or three hours using the regular mains supply.
The 330e can run for 25 miles in electric-only mode, and provided there is enough charge, it starts up in complete silence, which does take a little getting used to – after all this is a 3 Series! It glides along through the busy city centre traffic without a murmur and that petrol powertrain is waiting in the wings to kick in whenever necessary.
As with most hybrid vehicles there is a choice of driving modes to choose from to maximise the power from the battery. The Auto eDrive works mainly on battery power but brings in the petrol engine when necessary. Then the Max eDrive uses only the power from the electric motor and finally, the Save Battery mode which preserves the batteries for later use when emission-free driving is beneficial.
But, despite all its clever wizardry the 330e has something else very much in common with more tradition 3 Series models and that is performance and driving dynamics. This car can certainly produce the goods when faced with the open road and the driver can select from EcoPro, Comfort, Sport and Sport+ to find the suitable driving mode with Sport certainly sharpening up reaction times and delivering a far edgier ride.
Out on the faster country lanes and motorways, the 330e is grounded, responsive, refined and offers instant power to accelerate and overtake at short notice. The steering wheel-mounted paddles offer the option of taking control of the eight-speed automatic gearbox which also adds to the enjoyment.
When it comes to practicality, the boot on the hybrid model is slightly smaller than on standard models because of the batteries which are positioned under the floor, but it can still accommodate 370 litres of luggage and the split-folding rear seats open up further space when needed. However, passenger room is unaffected, so all back seat occupants are treated to ample leg, head and shoulder space.
Add in a host of first class safety features along with overwhelming all-round appeal and it becomes very clear to see just why BMW is so confident its latest ‘e’ model will help plug the gap in the public’s ever-growing desire for hybrid technology without compromising on style and performance along the way.
BMW 3 Series Gran Turismo
Just when you thought BMW’s highly respected 3 Series range couldn’t get any better, a newcomer has arrived on the scene and it’s likely to turn a few heads.
The 3 Series line-up consists of the saloon, touring, coupe and convertible models and those vehicles account for 34 per cent of BMW sales worldwide.
Now a fifth family member has emerged in the shape of the Gran Turismo which offers the sporty dynamics of the saloon combined with the versatility of the touring model.
Slightly bigger than the touring car, the Gran Turismo (GT) offers incredible levels of space and rear passengers can really stretch out in luxurious comfort. A journey in the back is like travelling business class.
The boot is massive and can cater for 520 litres of luggage and this capacity can be increased further thanks to 40:20:40 split folding rear seats. And there are plenty of handy storage compartments throughout the cabin too.
Boasting a beefy, rugged and grounded stance, the GT looks amazing from any angle thanks to smart alloys, LED lights, twin headlamps, the traditional kidney grille and distinctive blades set into the air intakes of the front apron.
The interior is richly equipped and buyers can select from four trim levels – SE, Sport, Luxury and Modern.
Even the entry level SE boasts an impressive range of techno treats including 18-inch alloys, two-zone air con, Bluetooth, a 6.5-inch display, an active rear spoiler, automatic tailgate and plenty more besides.
At launch, there is a choice of three petrol engines and two diesel and manual or automatic transmissions. Plus, BMW plans to introduce additional models later on.
We tested out the most economical GT – the 318d Sport – over a demanding route incorporating winding Italian climbs and fast country roads and the GT was up to every challenge.
The car has a 0-62mph sprint time of 9.7 seconds and top speed of 130mph. But the real wow factor on the stats front is its highly impressive fuel economy. According to BMW figures, it can achieve a combined mpg of 62.8 with carbon emissions of just 119g/km.
A gear shift indicator and auto start-stop are just two of the long list of features that help the GT achieve such impressive economy figures.
Although the car is packed with a multitude of creature comforts as standard, the test car had a number of optional extras which bumped the price up from £30,910 to £41,945.
One of the add-on features was the head-up display which is essential as the GT can quickly accelerate to high speeds as it works its way through the six-speed manual transmission.
The 2.0-litre diesel engine delivered ample get-up-and-go with a constant supply of power on tap which makes overtaking simple. And the “proper” handbrake is always a bonus on angled ascents when you have to perfect a hill start.
Automatic handbrakes sometimes fill me with dread at those times!
Despite its larger-than-life size, the GT proved deceptively agile and although the test model was not the powerhouse of the range, it easily attacked steep climbs and sharp hair-pin bends with confidence.
There are different driving modes to choose from ECO PRO, Comfort, Sport and Sport+ to alter the driving dynamics of the car.
All occupants benefit from a comfortable, bright and inviting environment and light floods into the cabin through the panoramic sunroof. The high-seated driving position is always a bonus when driving through Italy where locals seem to have their own rules of the road.
My only slight gripe was the GT proved a little noisy at times when the engine was being pushed hard. But that aside, the GT is an accomplished performer.
BMW has fitted a comprehensive range of safety features to keep all occupants as safe as possible.
All in all, the GT is a welcome addition to the ever-popular 3 Series family. It may not have the awesome driving dynamics of the saloon, but in reality, few cars do.
BMW 320d Modern Touring
If you’re searching for a vehicle with versatility, plenty of technical genius and outstanding driving dynamics then BMW’s latest BMW 3 Series Touring model could be the perfect solution.
With oodles of class and eye-catching features guaranteed to turn heads, this sleek model seems to have it all.
Attention-grabbing design features include smooth streamlining, smart light clusters with follow-me-home headlights, 18-inch alloys, folding and automatically dimming door mirrors, tinted windows, sun protection glass and matt aluminium roof rails.
And once inside, it’s impossible not to be impressed with the build quality that surrounds you.
It seems BMW has utilised the very finest leather and wood veneers to create a stylish, sophisticated and very comfortable cabin area for all occupants both front and rear.
Creature comforts include dual zone climate control, an excellent audio system compatible with all modern media and music devices, a head-up display, heated seats, cruise control, automatic headlights and wipers, satellite navigation via a large colour screen, reversing camera, Bluetooth and plenty more besides.
The 320d Touring model boasts the largest storage capacity in its class and the already generous 495 litres can easily be increased further thanks to split folding rear seats. There is an extra compartment underneath the boot floor and numerous smaller storage options scattered throughout the cabin.
But, despite its size, this car is certainly anything but a sluggish load-lugger. The 2.0-litre diesel engine produces 184bhp and that helps this estate model sprint from 0-62mph in just 7.6 seconds and on to a top speed of 141mph.
The road-holding is excellent even on tight bends and the car copes beautifully with city centre driving or life on the more open and faster roads.
The eight-speed automatic transmission is both smooth and responsive as it works its way through the gears and the driver benefits from great all-round visibility.
All dials, controls and read-outs are positioned perfectly in the driver-focused cockpit and there are different driving modes to select from.
I did find there was a little road surface noise at higher speeds, but that aside, this car was an absolute pleasure to drive.
As one would expect, BMW has fitted a comprehensive range of safety specifications, such as dynamic stability control, anti-lock brakes, run-flat tyres with pressure warning system, numerous airbags and lots more.
The test car was priced at just shy of £50k which includes almost £10k worth of optional extras.
But despite the price-tag it really is a vehicle that excels in quality, performance, comfort, safety and versatility.
BMW 3 Series 335i M Sport
HANG onto your hat it’s going to be an exhilarating ride! That just about sums up any length of time spent behind the wheel of the BMW 3 Series M Sport.
In fact, if you are not careful the sheer power of this beauty can be quite deceptive, but sometimes, that’s just what we are looking for in a motor.
However, as one has come to expect from BMW, it’s not just about brute force because the car is packed with subtle luxurious touches and the sort of craftsmanship guaranteed to turn heads.
Due to its M Sport trim you have an elegant, low slung saloon with 18-inch alloy wheels and lowered suspension.
And the quality continues inside too with air con, an on-board computer, excellent sound system complete with a loudspeaker unit, and an MP3-friendly point.
Many of the features can be controlled from the multi-function steering wheel which leaves the driver to enjoy the drive itself rather than being distracted looking for fiddly volume or channel buttons.
The vehicle boasts great comfort levels with ample room for four adults along with all their goodies, but for me this model is all about the drive itself, which can only be described as truly awesome.
In a busy city centre it eased through the traffic and then out on the open road the 3.0-litre engine delivered blistering pace as it moved smoothly through the six gears.
Bear in mind this car boasts 0-62mph stats of just 5.6 seconds and you have some idea of the power at your disposal.
BMW is renowned for producing cars packed with safety spec and the 3 Series is no different.
There are numerous airbags including head ones, a run flat tyres plus warning system, corning brake control, dynamic stability control, rain sensor and automatic driving lights plus plenty more.
It’s true the 3 Series M Sport is not a cheap investment, but for that outlay you are guaranteed a whole lot of car and hours of driving fun.