For years, if you wanted a premium mid-size luxury sport sedan, you sought the brand with the blue and white roundel. The BMW 3 Series has been the go-to premium sport sedan since its inception back in the late ’70s with the E21-generation. Since then, brands like Mercedes-Benz and Audi have been nipping at BMW’s heels, trying to unseat the 3 Series.
In recent years, both brands have come very close to the 3 Series, even offering what many consider to be better alternatives. But it isn’t just Mercedes and Audi anymore. Newcomers from Cadillac, Jaguar and even Lexus are challenging the 3 Series as well. Some of its competitors are sharper driver’s cars, some are better luxury cars and some have superior technology. But there’s still reason to buy the BMW 3 Series over its competition. And don’t just take it from us, because Whatcar has just listed seven of them.
7. Engines – The engine range in the BMW 3 Series is superior to its competition. The brand’s 2.0 liter diesel engine is spectacular at blending both decent performance and excellent fuel economy. Its 1.5 liter turbo-three is fun, economic and innovative. But the real star is the brand’s new B58 3.0 liter turbocharged I6. It’s turbine-smooth, boasts fantastic power and makes a better noise than any engine in its class. If you want a car with a great powerplant, the BMW 3 Series is your car.
6. Handling – While some enthusiasts may claim that the Cadillac ATS or Jaguar XE are sharper cars, dynamically, the BMW 3 Series is still a great driver’s car. It may not be the scalpel-sharp tool it once was, but it’s still damn good. Steering is a bit less communicative than before and it’s a tad too light, but it’s still as accurate as ever. Where the 3 Series really shines, though, is chassis dynamics. It’s an incredibly well-balanced car that will do whatever you want. Want to be tidy with your corners and brake properly? Great, it’s got you. Want to come in hot and kick the tail out a little? Awesome, it loves it. While some cars may seem “sharper” it’s still hard to beat the superb chassis balance of the 3 Series.
5. iDrive – Here is an area where the BMW 3 Series is the unanimous victor over its rivals. BMW’s iDrive infotainment system is leaps and bounds ahead of its rivals. It’s slick, innovative and intuitive. While some car companies are getting better, none can touch BMW’s iDrive just yet. The next best system is Audi’s MMI, which has gotten very good over the years. But it still isn’t as good as iDrive and that alone is a reason to buy the 3 Series. These systems now control almost every aspect of interacting with the car. Try adjusting the volume in a Cadillac ATS with its CUE and after five minutes of it not working you’ll want to pull over and get out of it, regardless of how good its steering is.
4. Visibility – This one may sound a bit silly. People don’t typically buy premium sport sedans for their visibility. However, it just goes to show BMW’s commitment to the 3 Series’ everyday usability. BMW cars about the little things. While the 3 Series might not be the sexiest car in its segment, its tall glass windows and skinny (relatively) pillars give it excellent outward visibility. Not only does that make it easier to driver, park and navigate everyday life, it also makes it easier to drive quickly down a windy road. A Jaguar XE looks far sexier than the 3er, but its massive sweeping A-pillars are frustratingly large by comparison. So the 3 Series’ commitment to usability is evident in all aspects of driving, even small ones.
3. Hybrid Availability – As of right now, the BMW 3 Series is only one of two cars in its class with hybrid power. If you’re looking for a car that’s not only fun to drive and luxurious but can also return excellent fuel economy, the BMW 330e is your car. It can do 20 miles on electric power alone and return We sampled the BMW 330e a little while back and came away very impressed with its powertrain. Right now, I don’t know if anyone can make hybrid powertrains as smooth and seamless as BMW.
2. Fleet Favorite – Among businesses who offer company cars to their employees, the BMW 3 Series is a favorite. Largely because its diesel engines are so economical and it’s so affordable. But not only is the 3 Series economic and affordable but, with those diesel engines, it also emits very little emissions. This makes the 3er cheap to register and run in many countries and cities where cars are taxes higher based on higher emissions.
1. Spacious – While the BMW 3 Series isn’t the longest or widest car in its class, it actually has the best overall interior space. Front passenger space as well as headroom is superb and best-in-class. The back seat is also quite capacious and better than rivals from Mercedes, Jaguar and especially Cadillac. The Audi A4 has a bigger back seat and probably a bigger trunk, thanks to its front-wheel drive-based layout, but the 3 Series is better overall. Which is surprising, considering its rear-wheel drive layout and exterior dimensions. But BMW has become excellent at carving out interior space.
So, overall, the BMW 3 Series is a superb car to own. While there may be other cars in its class that excel at certain areas more than the 3er, none are the all-around success that the 3 Series is. Admittedly, that’s typically not what BMW fans want to hear. BMW fans want a 3 Series that’s flat out more dynamic than any other car in its class and damn everything else. However, that’s simply not what works anymore in the auto industry. What works is being an overall fantastic driver’s car, dynamically speaking, while also being spacious, comfortable and filled with technology. In that regard, the BMW 3 Series is still king.