Top driving

executive

ALL BMW 3 Series models have the same marvellous handling and road holding, superb steering and excellent brakes, combined with a comfortable ride.

Very few car makers can accomplish this wide range of abilities, but do avoid any with sports suspension if you can. It makes the ride worse.

From 2005 to 2011, three petrol engines were available in the shape of the 320i, 325i, and 330i - and even the 320 is huge fun to drive.

There were also 320 and 330 diesel models which drive just as well as the petrols and have close to the same performance.

Never buy without service history and if possible, a small number of owners and a lower than average mileage for the year.

Best buys for fun and economy are probably the 320 petrol and the 320d turbo diesel.

There are saloons, estates, coupes and convertibles to choose from with a bewildering range of models, so it's worth checking prices thoroughly to make sure you're not paying too much.

The seats are beautifully supportive and the driving position has plenty of adjustment for all sizes, but leg and knee room in the back is on the small size.

Equipment is good even in basic models and original owners often enhanced that from the optons list to individualise their cars.

 

FAST FACTS

Price: Pay about £8,800 for an '09 09-reg ES, or £12,900 for an '11 11-reg SE automatic

Mechanical: 147bhp, 1,995cc, 4cyl petrol engine driving rear wheels via 5 or 6-speed manual or automatic gearbox 

Max Speed: 137mph

0-62mph: 8.9 seconds

Combined MPG: 38

Insurance Group: 23

C02 emissions: 178g/km

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