Used BMW 3-Series Saloon (2005 - 2011) Review

Review by David Ross on
Last Updated: 16 Feb 2011
4.5
The fifth-generation BMW 3 Series combines a high-quality cabin and decent equipment levels with the best drive among 'executive' saloon alternatives. Its rivals, including the Mercedes-Benz C-Class and the Audi A4, have struggled to match the BMW’s driving dynamics.
BMW 3-Series Saloon (05-11)
Great to drive, decent level of standard kit, premium image, superbly built, refined interior
Expensive options, firm ride

New price range:

£19,845 - £38,685

Used price range:

£1,032 - £8,030

View all used prices

Summary

Parkers Rating:

4.5 out of 5

The fifth-generation BMW 3 Series combines a high-quality cabin and decent equipment levels with the best drive among 'executive' saloon alternatives. Its rivals, including the Mercedes-Benz C-Class and the Audi A4, have struggled to match the BMW’s driving dynamics. The striking four-door gets a power boost over the old model but, thanks to the Efficient Dynamics program, both fuel economy and emissions have actually been improved. It's not as good an all-rounder as the Audi A4, with less passenger space and a firmer ride, but it sets the class benchmark for driving pleasure.

Good range of engines

A choice of three petrol engines were available upon launch – 320i, 325i and 330i. Initially there was just one diesel engine – a 320d – but in 2005 a 330d model was introduced, with the 325d and fantastically fast 335d arriving in 2006. In September 2007 the engine range was completely overhauled, with the Efficient Dynamics programme rolled out across the range. This meant more power and better efficiency, while a 335i petrol engine was added which gave even the M3 a run for its money.

Great to drive

BMW prides itself on driving pleasure, and the 3 Series is no exception. All are rear-wheel-drive, which means the front wheels can concentrate on the steering and the rear on delivering the power. Of special note is the steering, which provides excellent feedback through the wheel and although slightly heavy compared to electrically assisted systems is some of the most direct available on the market.

2008 facelift

An autumn 2008 facelift gave the 3 Series sharper styling and a refreshed interior and also brought a new diesel engine to the line-up in the shape of the 330d. However, the pick of the line-up - for performance and economy - is the excellent 320d EfficientDynamics which is great to drive and is claimed to return an amazing 69mpg. It’s also very attractive to company car drivers thanks to its low CO2 emissions. So should you buy a 3 Series BMW, or should you look at rivals from Audi and Mercedes-Benz? Read on for our full and comprehensive BMW 3 Series review to find out.

Parkers Ratings

Overall

4.5 out of 5

Performance

5 out of 5

Handling

5 out of 5

Comfort

4 out of 5

Practicality

3.5 out of 5

Behind the wheel

4.5 out of 5

Safety

4.5 out of 5

Reliability

4 out of 5

Running costs

3.5 out of 5

Green credentials

3 out of 5

Buying used

3.5 out of 5

Selling

4.5 out of 5

Equipment

4 out of 5

What owners say...

 The boot is surprisingly big for a small saloon, but rear legroom is very tight for adults in the back.  

5 out of 5

Nicholas Kennedy ,   01 May 2016    ... read more

 The 60/40 split folding seats are a welcome addition in a boot that isn't the largest in the world by any means. Fine for 3 people though.  

5 out of 5

Anthony Liddle ,   15 Apr 2016    ... read more

 5 seats, good space, good boot, blue tooth Rubbish in the ice and snow.  

2 out of 5

Richard Purnell ,   25 Nov 2015    ... read more

See all Owners' Reviews

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