BMW 3 Series saloon - Interior & comfort
Beautifully designed, built and equipped interior, but 3 Series dash isn't the last word in style
BMW seems aware that buyers of this type of car expect a certain standard of interior quality and design, and has given the latest 3 Series something of a 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.
BMW 3 Series dashboard
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 ‘7.0’ version of the brand's well-regarded iDrive system.
Though optional, the BMW Live Cockpit is well worthy of consideration by buyers. It includes a beautifully clear, 12.3-inch digital dashboard display, which teams up with a 10.25-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.
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.
Trim levels are SE, Sport, M Sport and M Sport Pro Edition and despite what you may have heard about BMWs, even the entry-level trim is well equipped. An 8.8-inch screen offers sat nav and Apple CarPlay, there's DAB radio, front and rear parking sensors, cruise control and heated front seats.
Sport adds leather upholstery and sports seats, while M Sport and M Sport Pro cars get upgrades to a 12.3-inch instrument display and BMW's latest 7.0 software. Interior trim is upgraded and there's a sports steering wheel and black headlining.
Options include a 'Driving Assistant Professional' package that 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 collison, 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, plus 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.