In-depth Reviews

BMW 3 Series saloon - Reliability & safety

BMW owner satisfaction rating lags behind rivals, but safety is beyond doubt

Carbuyer Rating

4.4 out of 5

Owners Rating

3.4 out of 5

Read owner reviews
Reliability & safety Rating

4.0 out of 5

BMW enjoys an enviable reputation as a maker of high-quality cars that appeal to driving enthusiasts. The name the company has made for itself manifests itself in the way its cars traditionally hold onto a healthy percentage of their initial purchase price when it comes to selling them on.

Unfortunately, despite how buyers typically see BMW as having an aspirational, desirable image, owners aren't always quite as keen, and the brand currently trails behind its German rivals in our latest Driver Power owner satisfaction survey results.

BMW 3 Series reliability

BMW fell to a rather mediocre 27th place in our 2020 Driver Power manufacturer standings, a drop of two places from last year. Only German rivals Mercedes plus Vauxhall and Dacia fared worse. Rival carmaker Audi performed slightly better by comparison, finishing in 21st place, a drop of five places from 2019.

BMW buyers seem generally happy with their cars' comfort and equipment, while running costs were deemed as expensive. The iDrive infotainment system came in for high praise but drivers were less pleased with the firm's interior and exterior design. Worst of all, though, is the fact that some 20% of owners reported at least one fault within the first year of ownership, even if this figure is a slight improvement on last year's.


Euro NCAP tested the latest BMW 3 Series in 2019, where it scored the maximum five-star safety rating. It scored very well in all categories but a particularly high 97% safety score for adult occupant protection is one of the best Euro NCAP have seen. The Audi A4 saloon also managed a five-star crash test, but adult protection was rated at 89%.

Every model comes with an Autonomous Emergency Braking (AEB) system that incorporates pedestrian detection, as well as lane departure warning. As well as promising to reduce driver workload, the optional Driving Assistant Professional package works to mitigate the likelihood of a crash by combining Active Cruise Control with Stop & Go, a steering and lane control assistant system, Wrong-way Warning and Cross-Traffic Alert systems.

Most Popular

Best new car deals 2021
15 Jan 2021

Best new car deals 2021

Car dashboard warning lights: the complete guide
Tips and advice
28 Dec 2020

Car dashboard warning lights: the complete guide

Best small SUVs
Small SUVs
31 Dec 2020

Best small SUVs