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In-depth reviews

BMW 3 Series review – 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.

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While BMW doesn’t do particularly well in the Driver Power customer satisfaction surveys overall, it does at least hold its own when compared to other premium German rivals. It came in 21st place ahead of Mercedes in 25th and Audi in 30th, but behind Jaguar in 10th and Lexus in eighth in the 2023 brand survey. 

The 3 Series itself came in a respectable 18th place out of the top 50 cars in the survey in 2024, with pretty stable scores across the board. Owners were most impressed by its infotainment system where it came in 10th place out of all the cars in the survey, while its lowest scores – while still not terrible – were in the value for money, reliability and quality, and running costs categories.

BMW 3 Series reliability

In 2023, 22% of BMW owners reported having experienced an issue with their car in the first year of ownership, which is slightly better than average. 23% of Audi owners, 28% of Mercedes owners and a shocking 44% of Jaguar owners reported the same, although Lexus was ahead with just 14% reporting an issue.

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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Charlie writes and edits news, review and advice articles for Carbuyer, as well as publishing content to its social media platforms. He has also been a regular contributor to its sister titles Auto Express, DrivingElectric and evo. As well as being consumed by everything automotive, Charlie is a speaker of five languages and once lived in Chile, Siberia and the Czech Republic, returning to the UK to write about his life-long passion: cars.

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