BMW 3 Series

The BMW 3 Series is a great choice for anyone who wants a executive car that blends great handling with first-class build quality - so it's no surprise our judges nominated it Best Executive Car in our 2014 Car of the Year Awards. It's available as a four-door saloon, a practical Touring estate, a GT and a hybrid saloon. Each body style has a wide range of engines and trims. The diesels are the most popular choice because they combine good fuel economy and low emissions with strong performance. Whether you want low running costs, big performance, or a mixture of both, there's a BMW 3 Series for you. The BMW M3 sporting flagship matches BMW 3 Series practicality with near-supercar performance.

BMW 3 Series saloon

Price 
£23,555 - £43,685
4 Doors
4.9 / 5
Pros
  • Good to drive
  • Beautifully built
  • Low running costs
Cons
  • Expensive options
  • Bland styling
  • Average interior space

As an all-round package, not many cars are as good as the BMW 3 Series. This four-door saloon manages to mix low running costs and familiar BMW driving thrills in one high-quality package. It has a roomier interior than its predecessor, while eight versions have emissions below 120g/km, making it one of the most efficient models in the small saloon class. Prices start at around £23,000, and there are six models to choose from: ES, ED and SE are the same as the last 3 Series, while Sport, Modern and Luxury versions have different equipment according to your tastes. If you want to slash your bills even further, the 320d EfficientDynamics offers emissions and economy figures on a par with a supermini.

BMW 3 Series Touring estate

Price 
£24,870 - £42,820
5 Doors
4.8 / 5
Pros
  • Good performance and economy
  • Top-notch build quality
  • Excellent practicality
Cons
  • High list price
  • Expensive options stack up fast
  • Cheaper rivals offer more space

The BMW 3 Series Touring is a more practical version of the saloon, offering a 495-litre boot that expands to 1,500 litres when all rear seats are folded flat. It features an opening rear windscreen and a powered tailgate, which is useful when your hands are full. There is a huge choice of engines ranging from the base 316i petrol through to turbocharged 3.0-litre petrol and diesel options. There are a range of specifications, too, including SE, Sport, M Sport, Modern and Luxury, with all models offering the top-notch build quality you'd expect from a BMW. The estate version is as fun to drive as its predecessor, even though the luggage area is almost 10 per cent larger.

BMW 3 Series GT hatchback

Price 
£29,205 - £43,670
5 Doors
4.3 / 5
Pros
  • Practical
  • Comfortable but fun
  • Cheap to run
Cons
  • More expensive than estate
  • Styling not to all tastes
  • Not as good to drive as the saloon

Available with a similar range of petrol and diesel engines, the BMW 3 GT has been designed as a more practical and more comfortable alternative to the 3 Series saloon. There's a huge 520-litre boot, loads of rear legroom and a high-quality interior, while it's still lots of fun to drive. It costs around £1,300 more than the equivalent 3 Series Touring estate, but strikes a great balance between driving enjoyment and practicality. Style may not be to everyone's tastes, but if exclusivity is key, the new BMW 3 GT is well worth a look.