BMW 3 Series saloon (2011-2018) - Interior & comfort
The BMW 3 Series boasts a decent amount of equipment and sat nav is standard on all models
BMW has built a strong reputation for making cars with high-quality interiors – and the 3 Series is no exception. With its classy design, logical layout and top-notch materials, the BMW’s cabin is a relaxing place to sit.
BMW 3 Series dashboard
As with all BMWs, there's a well laid-out dashboard that gives the interior a driver-focused feel. It almost has a wraparound-type design, as most of the controls and dials are angled towards the driver and the centre console is quite high.
The dials are easy to read, while the stereo and ventilation controls are well placed. The white climate control dials are a neat touch, as they stick out more than the plain black ones found on the pre-facelift version.
Better still, all 3 Series get a neat, dashboard-mounted colour screen that allows you to control the car's various functions, from the sat-nav to the radio and everything in between.
Even the most basic version with standard cloth seats gets a wide range of adjustment, meaning it's easy to get comfortable behind the wheel. All 3 Series have a chunky three-spoke leather steering wheel, which feels high-quality and luxurious. On the whole, visibility is excellent, and the standard rear parking sensors add further assistance.
Every 3 Series comes with BMWs ‘remote services' as standard, allowing you to check information like how much fuel is in the car from a smartphone app. It can even flash the headlights to help you find the car in a busy car park and lock or unlock the doors.
Elsewhere, standard kit is very generous. All versions get sat nav, air-conditioning, Bluetooth phone connectivity, DAB digital radio, a USB connection and a trip computer, while the SE and EfficientDynamics models add separate air-conditioning controls for the driver and passenger, as well as an auto-dimming rear-view mirror, plus automatic lights and wipers.
Drivers wanting something sporty can choose from the Sport and M Sport models. The former gets extra chrome trim, a distinctive red panel for the dashboard and a pair of sports front seats. The M Sport goes further still, adding M Sport logos, full leather seats, ambient lighting and a thick-rimmed multifunction steering wheel.
As with any BMW, it's possible to go to town on an extensive (and expensive) options list. There are plenty of hi-tech gadgets available, such as a head-up display and surround-view parking cameras, while the trim and seat colour combinations are as wide-ranging as your budget and imagination will allow.
As we’ve mentioned before, we think the optional adaptive dampers are a great addition to the car, no matter what model you’re choosing. This system provides an extra degree of flexibility in terms of handling and comfort.
There's also a whole host of optional safety kit, too, although it isn't cheap. For instance, you can add adaptive cruise control, lane-departure warning and road-sign recognition. There's also the Active Security package, which includes lane-keeping assistance and seatbelt pretensioners that activate the moment the car is on the move. The door mirrors automatically dim and fold in this pack, too. The Vision Package provides LED headlights, LED foglights and a high-beam assistant so you don’t dazzle other road users.