BMW 3 Series - Used

Car Review

BMW 320d, 2015, side
BMW 320d, 2015, front, action
BMW 320d, 2015, rear, action
BMW 320d, 2015, rear, static
BMW 320d, 2015, interior
BMW 320d, 2015, rear seats
BMW 320d, 2015, boot

IT doesn't matter which BMW 3 Series you buy they all drive brilliantly and, to my mind, have no equal when it comes to a sporting executive saloon or estate.

Now I know they're fairly common but that doesn't detract from the incontrovertible fact that they are superb to drive in a way few others approach.

For this secondhand look at the marque, I'll concentrate on the current model, which has been around - amazingly - since 2012.

This is the ‘3' that grew up and, for the first time, brought enough head and legroom for two adults to ride comfortably in the back.

It is just about to be replaced, but don't think this will affect secondhand prices.

This is a car that holds its value remarkably well, so although it will cost you more to buy, it will also retain a larger proportion of that outlay when the time comes to move on.

The wide choice of engines are now all turbos and start with a 1.6 petrol that has 134bhp, or 167bhp in some Efficient Dynamics models.

Next comes the more common 2.0-litre with power ranging from 181 to 248bhp and then the beautiful 3.0-litre ‘six' with 301 to 321bhp.

The 1.6 petrol was fairly recently replaced by a three cylinder 1.5 producing the same 134bhp output and also used in the Mini Cooper.

Diesels are a 2.0-litre which has power ranging from 114 to 214bhp and a silky smooth 3.0-litre with 254 to 308. This is the best sounding oil burner on the market.

Many will be fitted with the excellent tiptronic automatic gearbox, but if you would rather have a manual, make sure the driving position suits before you buy because the pedals are offset.

There is also a plug-in petrol/electric hybrid, which because of its very low emissions has been an excellent seller.

It was introduced in 2016 and has the 2.0-litre petrol combined with an electric motor to give a total of 248bhp. It can cover about 25 miles on electric power alone.

Performance is good to superb in all, with the 1.5/1.6 petrols capable of 8.6 seconds to 60 miles an hour and economy of 47mpg.

The 2.0-litre 240bhp petrol reaches 60mph in under six seconds and the later 214bhp 2.0-litre diesel covers the sprint in 6.4 seconds and can get to 68mpg.

Both the 3.0-litre petrol and diesel can get to 60mph in about five seconds, but the diesel is still capable of 57mpg.

All this would be as nothing if the ‘3' wasn't also one of the most enjoyable cars to drive on the market, shading competitors from Audi and Mercedes.

The road holding is sublime, with excellent grip and superb balance giving huge safety and loads of added fun.

Add deliciously tactile steering that is perfectly weighted at any speed and engines that pull hard in every gear, and you have a recipe for the first day of the holidays if you enjoy your driving.

But avoid models with bigger wheels and lower profile tyres - or sports suspension - because both spoil the otherwise excellent ride for such a sporting car. The handling and road holding are just as good without.

Stick with the ES or SE models, which come with the smaller wheels and you will have the best of everything.

There is a bewildering range of models to choose from. For instance there are 57 different engine, gearbox and trim combinations for the 2.0-litre diesel alone, so make sure that you have all the bells and whistles you would like. Xdrive designates models with four wheel drive.

Even lowly SE comes with traction control and other electronic safety devices, alloy wheels, parking sensors, loads of airbags, heated mirrors, cruise and a remote for the stereo system.

Pay about £10,800 for a '13 13-reg 320i SE automatic, or £17,700 for a '16 16-reg 320d Luxury automatic.

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