Used BMW 3-Series Compact (1994 - 2001) Safety & Reliability

Review by Parkers on
The Compact was BMW's attempt to woo customers who wouldn't have previously been able to afford a BMW or who couldn't live without the practicality of a hatchback. The Compact met the needs of both and proved to be popular although it's rear suspension was taken from the old model so was quite a bit cruder.
1.5 out of 5



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  • Adult Occupant Rating

    2 out of 5
  • Pedestrian Test Rating

    2 out of 5

Good for its age, almost all models have ABS but earliest cars may have no airbags at all and some were retro-fitted. Passenger airbags generally optional and side bags only optional on the later models. Good immobiliser fitted from 1992 onwards.

4 out of 5


Even the 316 should run to a high mileage if the cambelt is regularly changed. How good it is will depend on how well it has been looked after. Most owners get well over 100k without any significant problems at all.

Car check problem points


Beware rainwater leakage through poorly fitting window seals.


Old starting problems; leaking radiators; neglect of service warning; rough running/idling on 2.8 models may be serious.


Loose or poor quality trim on oldest cars and high milers; full service history a must unless cheap enough to risk big bills; chipped windscreen; faulty air conditioning.