Our three-month loan of the 3 Series comes to an end this month as part of a series of back-to-back long-term tests which saw us downsize from the 5 Series to the 4 Series to the 3.
It also enabled us to gauge the technological enhancements with each newer generation of BMW, culminating in the much improved 3 Series – we’ve noted the quicker auto transmission changes and easier selection of driving mode, for example.
The 3 Series, facelifted last year, keeps the car at the head of a highly competitive pack with improved engines, transmission and suspension.
Our car came with the adaptive M Sport suspension, a £750 option, which transforms the driving experience by allowing the car to be sporty when you want, but more comfortable on longer drives. It’s an excellent drive, matched by the responsive steering, but we wonder how many company car drivers will be up-speccing their cars to benefit from it. The standard suspension is not nearly so fulfilling.
Our 3 Series came with an eye-watering £10,000-worth of options, including three packs: Interior Comfort (£695 – rear head restraints, split-folding rear seats, extended interior lights), Media (£900 – uprated sat-nav, real time traffic info, online services) and Visibility (£850 – LED fogs and headlight, high-beam assistant). So which were our favourites?
Parking sensors are a must-have on any car to minimise the chances of front or rear bumper scrapes (£395) and the adaptive suspension makes the world of difference in real-life conditions. And it’s surprising how quickly you become accustomed to the head-up display (£825) and how much it’s missed when you switch cars.
Our time with the 3 Series has been highly enjoyable. The car has served us well on both short and long runs, on high speed roads and the twisties. And throughout, it has returned a steady mid-50s mpg, rising close to 60mpg on steady runs.