Car trim reviews

BMW 3 Series Modern

"The BMW 3 Series Modern is a more classy-looking executive car than the Sport model, featuring a very light and airy cabin."

Here at CarBuyer, we’re big fans of the BMW 3 Series, in fact, we awarded it our Best Executive Car award for 2012, beating rivals such as the Mercedes C-Class and Audi A4. Modern trim sits alongside the Sport in terms of price and equipment levels but offers more comfort. It replaces the Sport model’s bolstered seats and daring red interior detailing with upmarket half leather seats and a lighter, more classic interior colour scheme. On the outside, Modern trim comes with smart 17-inch alloy wheels and chrome trim, creating a more upmarket feel. Standard equipment includes cruise control, rear parking sensors, dual-zone air-conditioning, a sport leather steering wheel, Bluetooth and a 6.5-inch colour display with iDrive cabin control system. The Modern is available with a wide range of engines, including the 320i xDrive four-wheel drive and range-topping 335i petrol and 330d diesel engines. Buyers can choose between a standard-fit six-speed manual gearbox or an eight-speed automatic. The 318d is the most fuel-efficient, returning 62.8mpg and producing emissions of 118g/km.

Good points

For buyers wanting a classy-looking, well-equipped executive car, the 3 Series Modern is very hard to beat, as it boasts very few compromises. For starters, there’s plenty of room inside for four adults, and the boot is a very useful size at 480 litres in the saloon and 495 litres in the Touring estate version. The half-leather seats improve comfort, and while the chrome trim won't suit all tastes, it fits the Modern’s executive-car bill. Despite the more business-like appearance, the 3 Series Modern is exceptionally good to drive, and is equally at home on a bumpy back-road as it is cruising up the motorway. Noise levels are very low inside the cabin and build quality is top-notch. Performance is very strong too: the 330d for example, is capable of 0-62mph in under six seconds – which is very impressive considering it returns over 57mpg. The 318d version returns the best fuel economy however, boasting 62.8mpg with emissions of 118g/km.

Bad points

The 3 Series Modern is not available with the 320d SE’s EfficientDynamics pack, while the frugal 316d is also missing from the line-up. BMW has clearly done this on purpose however, meaning that the Modern trim remains more exclusive, available only to wealthier buyers. There is an extensive list of options available on the 3 Series, and although items such as the Head-up Display and eight-speed automatic gearbox are very impressive, they are expensive. Other omissions from the standard-fit spec list include folding rear seats in the saloon and BMW’s clever Drive Performance Control, which tailors the car's performance to suit your driving mood.

What you get

  • Alloy wheels
  • Alarm
  • Rear parking sensors
  • Tyre pressure sensors
  • Passenger & Driver airbag
  • Front side airbags
  • Curtain airbags
  • Front fog lights
  • Auto climate control
  • Leather steering wheel
  • Height adjustable driver's seat
  • Front electric windows
  • Single CD player
  • AUX stereo input
  • Cruise control
  • Stop/Start
  • Part leather seats
  • Rear electric windows
  • Bluetooth

Recommended optional extras

  • Split-folding rear seats

Our choice

We'd go for the 318d or the 320d Modern for their low emission diesel engines and considerably lower price.

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