The 320d is strong and economical, and the optional suspension makes this car the best in class to drive
Beautifully designed and finished
Six airbags and a host of driver aids
Solid interior and the mechanics should be dependable, too
Not the biggest boot in the class, but big enough for most
SE trim is the pick of the bunch
We recommend the 2.0-litre diesel engine (the cars are badged 320d), which feels strong in any gear and are properly fast when you want them to be. The 328i, which has a 2.0-litre petrol, is rapid but can feel a bit strained, while the 3.0-litre petrol in the 335i is blisteringly quick. To get the best driving characteristics from the 3 Series Touring you'll need to specify the optional adaptive dampers. These make the car the best to drive in its class, with a wonderfully smooth ride, responsive steering and agile body control. Without them, however, the ride feels slightly unsettled at slow speeds, there's too much body roll in corners and a noticeable amount of body movement under fast acceleration and strong braking. Still, the 3 Series is impressively hushed although there's a little more wind noise than in most rivals.
The materials are sumptuous, the finish is flawless and most of the switches work with a solid action. Many functions are controlled by the standard iDrive system, which uses a large dial to select between menus on a colour screen. There's lots of room for the driver and plenty of adjustment for the steering wheel and seat although the manual seat adjusters are annoyingly awkward and imprecise. Two adults can fit in the back in comfort (the middle seat is a squeeze) and while the boot isn't the biggest in the class it's still a practical size and you can drop the rear seat backs to increase your load space. A stroke of genius is the optional system that opens the tailgate when you waggle your foot beneath the rear bumper. Even the entry-level car gets alloys, cruise control and Bluetooth. Step up to SE and you get the best blend of cost and kit, including dual-zone climate control and rear parking sensors. Modern trim gets leather details to the trim, while Luxury brings full leather and larger alloys. Sport and M Sport cars get a variety of sporty features.
The cabin is beautifully built and should prove trouble-free. Mechanically, BMW's reliability record is reasonable rather than outstanding but there shouldn't be many unforseen problems here either. Standard safety equipment includes six airbags and a host of driver aids. Options include the Active Security Pack with lane-change warnings, while an alarm is standard too.
All 3 Series engines boast excellent economy, especially the 320d, and low CO2 emissions also help keep running costs down. Re-sale values are very competitive so from a financial point of view the 3 Series Touring makes a sound choice overall.