$56,400 – $91,400
Good: Sports Sedan king on the handling front; Stunning modern looks; Smooth linear power delivered across a number of power trains.
Not so Good: Fairly firm ride in the 335i, especially over rougher surfaces with the bigger rims and lower profile tyres; We think the 320d’s interior is quite ugly; Interior could offer more storage options.
Design and Engineering
Good : The new BMW 3-series arrived on our shores in February 2012, featuring a bolder design, with a wide and more aggressive stance that includes a slimmed down BMW trademark kidney grille and sleeker headlights.
The sixth generation 3 Series has also grown in size compared to its predecessor, with its increased track (front + 37 mm, rear + 47 mm), length (+ 93 mm) and wheelbase (+ 50 mm) all growing in size.
Not so good : Some people might not be a fan of the grown proportions of the 3-Series. We think its aggressive while still having a touch of elegance.
Interior and Styling
Good : Interior feels well built and the finishing materials are of a high quality. Most drivers will be able to get comfortable; the small-diameter steering wheel feels solid with tilt & reach adjustment.
The comfortable and supportive seats (the sports seats offer plenty of side support) and good outwards visibility are all pluses. The rear seat space is adequate for adults and the boot space is good (it helps when there is no spare – as run flat tyres are standard).
Not so good : Interior is lacking in storage compartments. Although the new 3-Series has grown in size, the rear seat bench is more suited to 2, rather than 3 adults due to the design of the outer seat cushions. We found the hard textured brown wood highlights found in the 320d quite ugly to touch and look at.
Good : The sixth generation BMW 3-Series features a new engine line-up with three petrol engines and two diesel engines.
Starting with the diesel options the 318d features a 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbo diesel that produces 105kW of power and 320Nm of torque when mated to a 8-speed automatic transmission fitted as standard.
Next up, the 320d features an up-tuned 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbo diesel that produces 135kW of power and 380Nm of torque when mated to a 8-speed automatic transmission fitted as standard.
Kicking things off for the petrol line-up is the 320i featuring a 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbocharged petrol that produces 135kW of power and 270Nm of torque 8-speed automatic transmission.
The 328i comes with an up-tuned 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbocharged petrol that produces 180kW of power and 350Nm of torque when mated to a 8-speed automatic.
Sitting at the top-of-the range is the 335i featuring a 3.0-litre in-line six-cylinder twin-turbo petrol engine that produces 225kW of power and 400Nm of torque when mated to a 8-speed automatic transmission.
Not so good : The base model 320i has the chassis for it, but you must work the engine hard to call this a Sports Sedan.
Also, the 318d doesn’t feel quite as refined as other diesel options that BMW has to offer.
Ride and Handling
Good : Handling has always been the 3 Series’ strength and the sixth generation is no exception. It is still the most sports-handling orientated vehicle in its class; excellent body control across the range; the 3-Series is fantastically agile for a Medium vehicle.
Not so good : At low speeds the steering in the 3-Series can feel overly heavy; however as speeds rise it lightens up and offers better feedback. Run-flat tyres come standard (on most variants), and the stiffer side walls means the 3-Series ride is a little on the firm side, most noticeably over rougher surfaces.
Buying and Owning
Good : For the amount of performance on offer the 320d & 320i have outstanding fuel economy. The BMW badge is still worthy of its high quality stature.
Not so good : Run flat tyres are still noticeably louder than conventional rubber over broken up bitumen. Like its German competitors, the 3-Series option lists are very long and it’s all too easy for the list price to escalate sharply if care isn’t taken when ticking all the boxes!