With a five-door wagon and a four-door sedan, the 3 Series is BMW’s most popular automobile line, having an initial production in 1975. In 2016, the company sold nearly half a million models worldwide, with almost one quarter of those in the United States alone. This number reflects almost 30 percent of BMW’s total car sales among its luxury automobile lines.
The 3 Series consistently ranks among the top 20 cars in the luxury range. Not only does it offer drivers the safety features that have made BMW one of the most reliably dependable car brands in the world, its luxury appointments and driving performance also rate consistently high across the range of car guide indices. The 3 Series offers three body types, the Gran Turismo, the Sports Wagon and the Sedan.
The Sedan begins with the 320i as the base model, moving up in engine size and luxury options to the 330i and 340i. BMW has also produced a diesel version, and recently, a hybrid option, in this Sedan line. The base modelfeatures a turbo inline four-cylinder, 180-horsepower engine, which is upgraded to a 248-horsepower engine in the 330i and a 320-horsepower engine in the 340i. All models come with electronic throttle control, auto stop and start functions and driving dynamics controls in a range of settings that include Sport and Comfort options.
Interior options on the base model can be upgraded across the series include SensaTec upholstery and six-way adjustable front seats. The instrumentation includes a range of steering wheel functions that include cruise control, buttons for the audio system and wireless mobile phone controls using Bluetooth. Climate control includes a filtration system and multiple user settings. There’s a sound system that plays both CDs and MP3s, with a radio that’s prewired for satellite radio service.
Safety features include front, side and knee airbags, an integrated alarm system, an SOS button that automatically calls BMW Assist in the event of an accident, daytime running lights and an Impact Sensor that automatically turns on interior and hazard lights, disconnects the fuel pump and unlocks doors in the event of an accident. The 3 Series also offers a range of warranties that include a four-year Roadside Assistant Program, a 12-year limited rust perforation warranty and a five-year or 50,000-mile limited New Vehicle warranty.
The 3 Series Wagon features a four-cylinder, 248-horsepower engine, hatchback-style fifth door and an eight-speed Sport Automatic Transmission. In addition to sharing the base sedan model’s interior luxury options, it also offers 10-point power-adjusted seats, side bolsters and thigh support on the front driver and passenger seats. The front seats also include an armrest for added comfort. Rear seats are split fold-down seats for easy loading through the hatchback door. There’s a six-inch center screen in the dashboard with BMW’s exclusive iDrive system.
For an entry-level luxury car, the BMW 3 Series offers most of the bells and whistles drivers have come to expect for this price bracket. There are other luxury brands that may offer slightly more bang for the buck, but BMW’s consistent quality and safety reputation is reflected in the 3 Series. Some features that the brand needs to improve include offering interior upholstery upgrades, and both its high-pressure fuel pump and the water pump have been known to need replacement more often than other cars in its class. The battery also needs to be delicately handled after being accidentally drained, otherwise the car will return a false positive that the engine is overheating. In spite of these minor detracting points, the 3 Series remains one of the most popular BMW brands on the road.