BMW 3 Series - Used

Car Review

BMW 320d x-Drive 2019 head on
BMW 320d x-Drive 2019 side
BMW 320d x-Drive 2019 rear
BMW 320d x-Drive 2019 front seats

IT is unforgivable in this day and age for car makers to come up with ugly models.

Surely, with all the money they invest in development and design it is not beyond the wit of man to pen a beautiful and attractive shape.

I know those designers are ever trying to outdo one another and create something new and cutting edge, but the grille on the latest BMW M3 is just plain ugly, with no saving grace.

And the whole Lexus range is completely spoiled by the horrible ‘gatemouth' grille.

Luckily, the previous range of the BMW 3 series built between 2012 and 2020 was uniformly good looking and svelte - just as it should be.

Most 3 Series models are optimised for the best performance and economy balance, with marvelous handling and a very good ride. They are among the most enjoyable driving cars you can buy.

But avoid any with larger than standard wheels or sports suspension. Both spoil that ride quite badly and unnecessarily, since the handling and roadholding are just as good with the standard setup.

Equipment levels are very good throughout the range, but there was a large range of expensive extras when new, and most secondhand cars will have some of them.

But 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 any that you're interested in have all the bells and whistles you would like. Xdrive denotes models with all-wheel-drive.

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.

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 of them all.

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

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

The 1.6 petrol was later replaced by a three cylinder 1.5 producing the same 134bhp output.

Many will be fitted with the excellent tiptronic automatic gearbox, but if you would rather have a manual, make sure you can live with the offset pedals before you buy.

There is also a plug-in petrol/electric hybrid introduced in 2016. It has the 2.0-litre petrol combined with an electric motor to give a total of 248bhp and can cover 25-30 miles on electric power.

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 60 in under six seconds, and the later 214bhp 2.0-litre diesel covers it in 6.4 seconds and can also reach 68mpg.

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

Stick with the models that come with smaller wheels and larger profile tyres, and you will have the best of everything.

Even lowly SE comes with traction control and loads of other electronic safety devices, alloy wheels, parking sensors, loads of airbags, heated mirrors, cruise and a remote for the stereo system. And many models will have lovely leather upholstery plus uprated media.

Pay about £11,500 for a '16 16-reg 320d SE Business Media, or £19,050 for a '19 19-reg 320i Sport.

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