BMW 3 Series Review 2024

BMW 3 Series At A Glance

5/5
Honest John Overall Rating
The BMW 3 Series is one of the most desirable new cars on sale today. It's not changed a great deal since the latest model arrived in 2019, but the latest infotainment system ensures the interior feels totally modern (without compromising on user-friendliness).

+Great to drive with a wide range of refined engines. Looks and feels very classy. New infotainment from late in 2022 means it's now entirely up-to-date.

-Even used examples aren't cheap. The Skoda Superb is a bigger, more spacious alternative for less money.

New prices start from £34,900
Insurance Groups are between 24–42
On average it achieves 108% of the official MPG figure

The BMW 3 Series isn't quite the fashion statement it once was. Traditional 3 Series buyers (most of them company car drivers) are now looking at electric alternatives like the Polestar 2 or Tesla Model 3, while those with families tend to favour SUVs like the Volkswagen Tiguan.

We still like the BMW 3 Series, though. In fact, we reckon the recently updated model is one of the best all-rounders you can buy.

For a start, there's an engine to suit almost every buyer. You could, until recently, get the 3 Series with a slightly underwhelming 2.0-litre petrol or diesel engine in the form of 318i and 318d models. These were fine, but lacked the punch most BMW buyers are after. The now-entry-level BMW 320i and 320d models are much better suited to the 3 Series - combining impressive performance with impressive refinement and relatively low running costs.

While there isn't an electric 3 Series on sale (take a look at the BMW i4 if that's what you're after), you can buy one with plug-in hybrid power. The BMW 330e combines a 2.0-litre petrol engine with an electric motor, providing an electric range of up to 38 miles. That doesn't sound like a huge amount but it's pretty good as far as PHEVs go... you should be able to cover a short commute or school run without the petrol engine kicking in at all.

In the market for a BMW 3 Series that feels a bit more special? The six-cylinder BMW M340i and M340d tick that box very nicely indeed - both are capable of accelerating to 62mph in less than 5.0 seconds (and sound pretty good at the same time... yes, even the diesel).

Whichever engine you go for, the BMW 3 Series is one of the best handling saloon cars on the market. The steering is direct and communicative, while the rear-drive layout means it feels ultra agile - even at town speeds. You can buy the BMW 3 Series with xDrive all-wheel drive (it's standard on the sportier models), while all now come with an excellent smooth-shifting eight-speed automatic gearbox.

Not that the BMW 3 Series is a one-trick pony. As well as being excellent to drive, it also has a classy and comfortable interior and generous levels of equipment (even on the most affordable models). If you're keen to get the latest infotainment, you'll need to look for a post-facelift model from late 2022 onwards.

Although cosmetic changes are minimal, the updated BMW 3 Series now has the same curved dual-screen infotainment display as the BMW iX and i4. As well as looking the part, it remains as user-friendly as ever - with actual physical buttons for adjusting the climate control, as well as BMW's brilliant rotary iDrive controller on the centre console.

Of course, being a traditional three-box saloon, the BMW 3 Series isn't as practical as alternatives from other segments. Its 480-litre boot is no smaller than rivals but, if you've got children, you might want to look at the BMW 3 Series Touring instead. Or, even better, look at the Skoda Superb - a bigger, more practical and more affordable alternative to the BMW 3 Series.

Ask Honest John

How can I clean the wind deflector on my sunroof?

"How can I clean the bugs off the mesh sunroof wind deflector?"
Given that the mesh in the wind deflector is quite fine and delicate, we would suggest using a soft brush to remove the bugs, or a vacuum cleaner with a soft brush attachment. Once the bugs have been removed try wiping over the mesh with a soft cloth and a non-aggressive universal interior cleaner.
Answered by David Ross

Is a diesel still better than petrol for high mileages?

"I have been a diesel car driver covering around 30,000 per year for the last 10 years and would like to add my two pence to the conversation. Along the A1, the cheapest fuel I have found is at Tesco Huntington, with petrol at £165 and diesel at £183. Comparing a BMW F30 320d and 320i M Sport Auto using an online tool, I think the petrol is a better option even at 25,000 miles per year. According to the website, I will get 50.2mpg from diesel and 38mpg from petrol. At 25,000 miles per year, diesel is £4,475, and petrol is £4,900. I agree that the petrol version will cost an additional £425 per year. However, with the purchasing price difference of about £2,000, the breakeven point will be at year four. Calculating the additional cost of higher insurance, servicing, and AdBlue for the diesel car will equate to a breakeven point at year five. As you might have noticed, I have not included DPF in my costing for the diesel or usage of E10 petrol in my costings. How can Honest John continue to recommend diesel below 30,000 miles per year?"
Our Real MPG data suggests readers see 51.4mpg on average from the 320d and 33.1mpg from the 320i. If you're covering 25,000 a year at 166.54p/litre (the average petrol price this week according to the RAC's Fuel Watch) in the 320i, you'll pay £5718.32 a year in fuel. If you're covering 25k a year at 190.49p/litre (diesel) at 51.4mpg, you'll pay £4211.99 in fuel. That's quite a significant saving of more than £1,500 every year. Running costs aside, diesels are generally better suited to long-distance driving than petrols. They have more low-down torque which makes them more relaxed on motorway drives. They have a longer range, so you'll have to stop and refuel less often. And, if you're covering 25,000-plus a year on the motorway, you're unlikely to have issues with the DPF as it'll regenerate regularly and not get clogged up.
Answered by Andrew Brady

Should I buy a BMW 330e or 320i?

"I am looking for a BMW up to five years old (budget up to £19,000) and one of the options is the 330e. Having looked at your review of the F30 model, it seems they have quite a few issues. Given that, would you recommend it? Or would a standard 320i be better? "
We've not heard of any serious issues with the previous-generation 330e, other than some cases of the on-board charger failing. This is a £1200 fix, but most failed early and were repaired under warranty. Whether or not the extra performance and efficiency potential is worth it over the 320i is worth investigating: for example, if you can't charge it at home regularly then you'll find it's less economical than a 320i. But the reduced tax liability as a company car could offset that.
Answered by Lawrence Allan

Can you recommend an Audi A4 Avant replacement?

"I have a 2016 Audi A4 TDI Ultra that has cover 103,000 miles. I'm now looking to replace it, what age/version of a newer A4 would I need to upgrade to in order for it to feel like a "worthwhile" change? My budget would be up to £25,000. I currently average 10,0000 miles a year, 12-mile daily commute. "
The current generation of A4 (which yours would be) was updated a couple of years ago, but it wasn't a very significant one. You might not find it feels like a substantial enough upgrade over your current car. We'd either suggest waiting for the next-gen A4 to come out (expect that to be revealed later this year) and for used models to appear in your budget, or consider looking at the latest BMW 3 Series or Mercedes C-Class. Both of those cars are a generation ahead of the A4 and feel it.
Answered by Lawrence Allan
More Questions

What does a BMW 3 Series cost?