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In-depth reviews

BMW 3 Series saloon - Interior & comfort

Beautifully designed, built and equipped interior, with impressive infotainment

Carbuyer Rating

4.4 out of 5

Owners Rating

3.4 out of 5

Read owner reviews
Interior & comfort Rating

4.5 out of 5

BMW is fully aware that buyers of this type of car expect a certain standard of interior quality and design, and has given the latest 3 Series the feel of being a scaled-down BMW 5 Series inside. This is good news, as the inside of the latest 5 Series is seriously impressive.

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In spirit, the 3 Series feels more driver-focused than the Audi A4, and the arrival of the latest infotainment setup means it can now compete with the Mercedes C-Class, which is a little flashier in its approach.

BMW 3 Series dashboard

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In common with other recent BMWs, the 3 Series makes a big leap forward when it comes to infotainment and on-board technology, thanks to the latest version of the brand's well-regarded iDrive system.

Now fitted as standard, the floating widescreen setup should impress buyers. It includes a beautifully clear 12.3-inch digital dashboard display, which flows seamlessly into a 14.9-inch central screen whose functions are accessed either directly by touch, or remotely via a rotary controller on the transmission tunnel. Many will find the controller simple to operate on the move. Most physical controls have been removed, with the climate control now adjusted via the screen. While this isn’t a move everyone will like, the settings for the temperature are always present at the bottom of the screen, so it’s quick to change them with a few taps.

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The infotainment system is further enhanced by BMW's "Intelligent Personal Assistant". This voice-controlled software package responds to voice commands, allowing you to adjust the temperature, set a navigation destination or change the media you're listening to via Amazon Alexa for Android or Siri for iPhones by voice. Apple CarPlay connectivity is also incorporated, with 'over-the-air' software updates supported to keep things running smoothly. Your phone can also double as a 'digital key' to set certain features remotely, as well as open the doors and switch the lights on.

Equipment

Trim levels are Sport and M Sport, with the former including 17-inch alloy wheels, LED headlights, heated front seats, parking sensors, cruise control, air-conditioning and a rear-view camera. M Sport upgrades this to 18-inch alloys and brings an M Sport steering wheel, aluminium interior trim, sports suspension and variable sports steering. The previously entry-level SE trim was discontinued when the 3 Series was facelifted.

Options

That’s far from the end of the story, however, because there are several packs buyers can add for a start. Comfort pack brings a heated steering wheel, powered boot and comfort access, while a Visibility pack adds adaptive LED headlights and high-beam assist. Technology includes a Harman Kardon stereo upgrade, wireless smartphone charging and a head-up display.

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M Sport Pro is also available as an upgrade for the M Sport trim, and it’s fairly comprehensive, adding more powerful brakes, adaptive suspension, 19-inch alloy wheels, tinted glass and an M Sport body kit that includes a rear spoiler.

A 'Driving Assistant Professional' package brings a semblance of semi-autonomous driving ability with a view to reducing driver workload. It allows the adaptive cruise control and steering assist systems to operate together, following traffic or retaining a set speed, while maintaining a road position between clearly marked lanes at speeds above 37mph.

The 3 Series Saloon can also be had with BMW’s Drive Recorder safety system as an option. This constantly records footage via various cameras located around the bodywork. In the event of a collision, the footage recorded before and after the event is automatically saved.

The standard LED headlamps can be replaced with sophisticated 'laser' lights that are said to cast a beam for up to 530m, with greater safety as a result. That said, they can only work in auto-high-beam mode, and they are so bright that the risk of dazzling other drivers means the car will only switch them on when roads are deserted. In many congested parts of the UK you’re unlikely to ever get the benefit.

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Andy is Carbuyer's managing editor, with more than a decade of experience helping consumers find their perfect car. He has an MA in automotive journalism and has tested hundreds of vehicles.

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