It’s difficult to compare the BMW 3 Series 2018 with other models when it comes to variety. The M3, for example, comes as a standalone model, whereas with the 3 Series we have an estate, saloon, coupé and a convertible in the form of the SE, ED Plus, Sport, ED Sport, Luxury, and our personal favourite – the BMW 3 Series M Sport.
We first came across the new BMW 3 Series for sale during the Paris Motor Show, when the boffins at BMW told us that the new 3 Series would offer “revised styling, superior driving dynamics, exceptional efficiency and innovative features”.
This is the seventh generation 3 Series for BMW, who have given it the nickname of “G20”. So, is it lucky number seven for BMW?
You might notice a few tweaks to the design with the seventh generation – firstly, to the dimensions. The wheel base is considerably larger than its predecessor, up by 41mm to 2,851mm, which makes a pleasant change for the interior.
Your passengers will enjoy the increased legroom, while the exterior has seen some changes too. Namely, the track front and rear track are wider, while the body is 25% more rigid.
You’d think all of these extras would add up to a heavier 3 Series, but this could not be further from the truth: in fact, its kerb weight is actually 55kg lower than previous models. Add improved suspension mountings and a smaller drag co-efficient, and you’ve got yourself one very smooth drive indeed.
While petrol and fuel come as standard, there’s also the environmentally friendlier BMW 3 Series Hybrid, otherwise known as the BMW 330e iPerformance, which combines an 87BHP electric motor with 181BHP 2-litre petrol unit. This certainly provides the most economical drive of all the models, but you will have to take the less environmentally friendly options if you’re after other bonuses like adaptive dampers to provide a reliable grip on the road in various driving modes.
That said, if it’s economy you’re after, without the awkward adjustment into hybrid vehicles, then the BMW 3 Series 320D could just be what you’re looking for. It’s packing an impressive average of 56 MPG (63 MPG motorway driving and 49 city driving).
There’s quite a lot of variation amongst all the models, from the insurance group to the responsiveness of the engine. Indeed, in the entry level 381i, there’s a decent amount of get up and go, but that’s not without substantial effort from the driver.
Our personal favourite is the 320D, which needs no convincing before you’re rocketing your way off down a country road in a matter of seconds. Of course, the 320ED models are slower, but efficiency is their main aim – so keep these for long commutes. For mainly urban driving, go with the hybrid. You’ll save a lot of money.
As we’d imagine with all executive saloons, the truly high-class upgrades come at a price. If you want lumbar support, for example, you’ll have to pay a premium, though the driver’s seat does adjust manually together with the steering wheel.
The critically acclaimed iDrive system is consistent throughout all models. Expect a Bluetooth connection and a DAB audio as standard, plus a handy little safety feature across the entire range – the “SOS” emergency call system.
If you wish, you can upgrade to the BMW Professional System, pushing the standard 6.5in screen up to 8.8 inches, which offers online services and live traffic updates. If you’re feeling really fancy, upgrade to voice activation or the lively Harman Kardon audio setup.
Naturally, with saloons the over-the-shoulder view is a little obfuscated, so it’s better not to have the additional horror of a clunky infotainment system. Despite this minor annoyance, blind spot reminders are available, while rear parking sensors come as standard across the range.
There’s decent passenger space front and back with plenty of storage options in cabins and doors, while seats can be folded for extra room on long journeys.
The BMW 3 Series price starts at a fair £27,810, or you can get a 3 Series lease deal from £270 a month. We think this is very reasonable, particular considering the private deals from BMW, for what is a high-end, executive level saloon.
You’ll have to decide what matters most to you: fuel economy or extras, but it’s definitely worth the extra decision-making time.