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 on to 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 finished in a rather mediocre 21st place in our 2021 Driver Power manufacturer standings with 19.2% of owners reporting a fault in the first year. The brand’s position was a slight improvement over last year, with a rise of six places. Only German rivals Audi plus fared worse finishing in 23rd place.

BMW 3 Series buyers seem generally happy with their cars' comfort and equipment with the model finishing in 31st place out of 75 cars in our model survey. Expensive running costs were one of the areas where owners were unhappy, along with low scores for the brand’s interior and exterior design. However, owners were full of praise for the iDrive infotainment system, which is deemed to be user-friendly with a good balance of physical and touchscreen controls, as well as the performance and fuel economy of their cars.

Safety

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.

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