What’s new?

Listen carefully, because the new bits of the 3 Series may not be
obvious. This is a mid-life lift rather than a brand-new car, so from
the outside there are resculpted bumpers, new lights – including LED
daytime running lights and tail lights – plus new exhaust pipes,
depending on your engine. Inside, there’s new cabin materials and some
new equipment, but under the skin there’s some new engines, plus revised
suspension and steering, all designed to keep it on top of the dynamic

Looks and image

At first glance, you’re unlikely to notice it’s a 2015 3 Series that’s
just barged in front of the traffic queue; this is a very subtle
makeover. The front bumper has wider vents underneath, the rearranged
headlights are also designed to give the car greater width on the road,
and the rear LED lights are certainly smarter. This is still a car that
looks best with the right wheel and colour combination, and effectively
looks like all the other 3 Series models already on the road – but
that’s not necessarily a bad thing.

Space and practicality

There’s no more space in the new 3 Series than there was before, but for
a car of this size, it copes with people and their luggage well. Front
seat passengers are best catered for, with head and legroom a little
more restricted in the rear, although normal-sized adults will be
comfortable. One small, if notable improvement, is the new cup holder
ahead of the gear lever, which is more substantial than before. The boot
remains a useful 480 litres and is easily accessed through a decent

Behind the wheel

Although there are several new engines in the range, the only examples
available to drive were 340i models, which gets a new 3.0-litre twin
turbocharged six-cylinder unit. With 322bhp available, as well as a
332lb/ft of torque, there’s no doubt it is absurdly fast; 0-62mph takes
5.1 seconds, which is as quick as an M3 from 10 years ago. Match it with
impressive automatic transmission and you get quick shifts when
required, and smoothness when you’re not in a hurry, it’s also more

The steering and suspension changes have come about thanks to improved
body mountings, allowing stiffer settings for the dampers and springs,
without the ride quality suffering. This particular model had adaptive
damping and steering too, but it remains a fun and responsive sports
saloon to drive, although more humble models may offer better handling.

Value for money

As part of the changes for 2015, all 3 Series models now get the basic
satellite navigation system as well as BMW’s emergency on-call service:
if you have an accident where the airbags are deployed, the car will
automatically call for assistance. The entry SE model gets 17-inch alloy
wheels, air conditioning, Bluetooth, DAB and cruise control, while this
near top-spec 340i comes in M Sport guise only. Some of the options are
on the pricey side, but the general equipment level is good value.

Who would buy one?

The chances of you buying a 3 Series are pretty high. It’s featured in
the list of top 10 bestsellers in the UK for several years on the spin
for a variety of reasons. The BMW badge is one of course, as is its
reputation for being a driver’s car, which still holds true. It appeals
to young, thrusting executives, the young and the old and anyone looking
for a little bit of flash in their lives. That it has become ubiquitous,
hasn’t hurt its chances either, so expect to see a lot more new ones.

This car summed up in a single word: German

If this car was a…: Kitchen appliance, it would be one of those shiny
chrome toasters that will toast eight slices of bread and buy flowers
for your mother with ruthless efficiency.


BMW 340i, £39,505

Engine: 3.0-litre petrol unit producing 322bhp and 332lb/ft of torque

Transmission: Eight-speed automatic gearbox driving the rear wheels

Performance: Top speed 155mph (limited), 0-62mph in 5.1 seconds

Economy: 41.5mpg combined

Emissions: 159g/km of CO2

By Matt Joy