Donna Kelly has over 12 years of experience in the motoring industry, writing, test driving and tweeting about cars. Her weekends are spent trackside, covering racing events.
The BMW 3 Series Saloon is a premium and practical family saloon. Offering the perfect blend of performance, driving dynamics, low running costs, technology and refinement, the 3 Series Saloon is one of the best compact executive vehicles on the market.
Our BMW 3 Series Saloon review covers:
The new BMW 3 Series Saloon has a dynamic silhouette with precise bodywork lines and short overhangs. Its redesigned doubled kidney grille and distinctive L shaped light graphics give it a sporty and muscular presence while on the road.
Inside, the BMW 3 Series Saloon is plush and well-made, offering similar levels of space as the Mercedes C-Class and Audi A4. Its comfortable cabin can accommodate three child seats side by side in the rear. However, only the two outside seats come with Isofix points.
At the rear, the BMW 3 Series Saloon's boot can hold 480 litres of space, beating rivals such as the Mercedes C-Class at 455-litres. BMW offer a comfort package that gives the 3 Series Saloon extra storage with nets in the boot compartment along with an electric powered boot lid. All models come with 40:20:40 split-folding rear seats that improve practicality.
The 3 Series Saloon has a well-crafted interior that looks and feels great, although the Mercedes-Benz C-Class still stands out in the class. Nevertheless, the BMW still has a well-made interior that functions well with lots of brushed metal used, just as you get in the bigger BMW 5 Series.
The infotainment system in the 3 Series isn't nearly as cutting-edge as it once was. BMW has launched even more complex eighth-generation software for the electric iX and i4 models, but it's still highly tech-packed.
All models come with a 12.3-inch digital instrument panel, and while it looks nice, unfortunately, it can't be customised as much as those in an Audi or Mercedes. A 10.25-inch touchscreen sits in the dash's centre, including voice control and optional gesture control. However, you can also utilise the click-wheel controller and the steering wheel controls on the centre console.
The BMW 3 Series Saloon comes in four trim levels, including SE Pro, Sport Pro, M Sport and M Sport Pro Edition.
The entry-level SE Pro model comes with BMW Live Cockpit Professional with a 10.25-inch central information display, Parking Assistant with a rearview camera and reverse assist. It also comes with Adaptive LED headlights and 17-inch light-alloy V-spoke wheels.
The Sport Pro model has a high gloss Shadowline exterior design and high gloss black interior trim. It also comes with aluminium door still finishes, heated front sports seats and 18-inch light-alloy V-spoke wheels.
M Sport models have a sharper appearance and come with M exterior styling, M Aerodynamic package, M door still finishes and an M sport leather steering wheel. It also comes with Interior trim finishes in aluminium Tetragon, leather upholstery and 18-inch M light-alloy double-spoke wheels.
Top-of-the-range M Sport Pro Edition models have enhanced driving dynamics with M Sports system, M rear spoiler, M sport brakes, Adaptive M suspension and dampers. It also comes with unique BMW paintwork, BMW high gloss shadow line black mirrors and sun protection glass, BMW aluminium fabric high gloss interior trim, M seat belts and 19-inch double-spoke jet black alloy wheels.
Under the bonnet, the 3 Series Saloon comes with a wide range of engines with petrol, diesel and plug-in petrol hybrid variants available.
The petrol range starts with the 318i, producing 154bhp, and a 182bhp 2.0-litre four-cylinder 320i, which comes with Sport automatic transmission as standard. The 330i also uses the same engine tuned to produce 254bhp. The sporty M340i has a 3.0-litre engine which produces 369bhp. All petrol models have an eight-speed automatic transmission, and the 320i can be ordered with xDrive four-wheel drive, while M340i vehicles come standard with four-wheel drive.
The diesel range starts with the 318d and 320d, which use a 2.0-litre diesel engine producing 148bhp and 187bhp, respectively. These four-cylinder diesel engines are available with either a six-speed manual or an eight-speed automatic transmission with all models except the 318d can be equipped with four-wheel drive. The performance diesel engine 330d gets a six-cylinder unit producing 261bhp and features in the M340d xDrive, producing 335bhp.
The plug-in hybrid variant is powered by the same four-cylinder petrol engine as the 320i but adds an electric motor to produce 249bhp. The car's battery is claimed to allow 41 miles of all-electric driving.
Out on the road, the BMW 3 Series Saloon is entertaining to drive, with impressive road holding and ride quality. BMW's new suspension damper technology helps improve the overall ride quality. When the car carries a light load, the damping rate changes to being much softer, resulting in a much smoother and more enjoyable ride.
Prices for the new BMW 3 Series Saloon start from £38,445.00 OTR* or to lease from £439.27 per month.
Want to know more about leasing the BMW 3 Series Saloon? Nationwide Vehicle Contracts is one of the largest car leasing providers in the UK. All of our leasing deals include the manufacturer's warranty, road tax for the duration of the lease, breakdown cover, and free mainland GB delivery (exclusions apply).
Plus, with fixed monthly rentals, a low initial outlay and flexible mileage and contract terms, leasing a BMW 3 Series Saloon might be cheaper than buying outright with a bank loan or dealer finance.
*'On the road' price is correct at time of publication and includes one year's road fund license, DVLA first registration fee and number plate fee. Prices are subject to change. Always check with your nearest retailer.