Although the styling has divided opinion, the latest 3 Series has most agreeing that it points the way forward for the compact executive saloon with a coherent and sensible template.
The challenge BMW faces with this car is that the gap between itself and the chasing pack when it comes to efficiency is no longer the yawning gulf it once was. Fortunately the 3 Series can rely on what has now become Plan B, namely the way the car drives. Bolster that with improved interior quality and the case for this sixth generation car looks extremely solid.
Equipment levels have been beefed up and needed to be and the model line up changes quite markedly. The popular ES and SE will be again available from launch, while Sport and M Sport are targeted at the more enthusiastic driver and Modern and Luxury are different takes on the sophisticated compact premium saloon. Even the base ES (which is only available on 316d), gets 17-inch light alloy wheels, automatic air-conditioning, Bluetooth, BMW Professional radio with 6.5-inch colour screen and iDrive, keyless starting, USB, a multi-function leather steering wheel, cruise control and automatic boot opening.
Quite how BMW has sold so many 3 Series models yet has retained its perceived exclusivity appears to have defied the conventional wisdom of supply and demand but BMW is hoping it can reprise this smoke and mirrors trick with this latest Three. You’d be very brave to bet against a repeat performance.
FACTS AT A GLANCE
CAR: BMW 3 Series saloon range
PRICES: from £24,880 - £38,550
INSURANCE GROUPS: 20-38
CO2 EMISSIONS: [320d Efficient Dynamics] 109g/km
PERFORMANCE: [328i] 0-60mph 5.7s / top speed 155mph
FUEL CONSUMPTION: [328i] (combined) 44.1 mpg
STANDARD SAFETY FEATURES: stability control, ABS, twin front and side airbags
WILL IT FIT IN YOUR GARAGE?: length/width/heightmm 4624/1811//1429.