BMW 3 Series Touring Special Edition Leasing

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BMW 3 Series

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Whatcar? Review

For

The 3 Series Touring is practical and, in the right spec, very good to drive. The engines are strong and efficient, while the classy interior has a user-friendly infotainment system.

Against

The smaller diesel engines are noisy and the steering has an inconsistent feel. Adaptive suspension – which we recommend – is a pricey option.

Summary

The 3 Series Touring scores highly in almost every area, and is one of the best cars in its class. It’s a shame it’s not a bit more refined, though.

Performance

The 318i entry-level model has a 1.5-litre three-cylinder petrol engine, providing decent pace, but needs to be worked hard. The four and six-cylinder petrols are all strong, with the 330i and 340i providing effortless acceleration. With the exception of the entry-level 316d, which feels a little underpowered, the four and six-cylinder diesel engines are flexible and provide all the pace most you’ll need. The brilliant eight-speed automatic gearbox actually improves acceleration in some models.

Ride & Handling

We’ve only driven the 3 Series Touring with optional adaptive M Sport suspension. When fitted, it’s one of the most satisfying cars in its class to drive, providing a fine blend of comfort and fun. A choice of settings allows you to emphasise sportiness or comfort, and the rear-wheel drive chassis gives precise, well-balanced handling. Four-wheel drive xDrive models provide even more traction on slippery surfaces. The steering is responsive but has an inconsistent feel as you turn the wheel.

Refinement

In some respects the 3 Series isn’t as refined as an executive car should be. The biggest let-down is the amount of noise the four-cylinder diesel engines create; the other engines, especially the six-cylinder petrols, are much quieter. Road noise is muted in all versions (although more prevalent for those with large alloy wheels) but wind noise at speed is more noticeable than in many rivals. The manual gearshift is okay, while the eight-speed automatic gearbox is one of the smoothest around.

Buying & Owning

The 3 Series Touring is far from cheap, but it’s decent value for private buyers once you factor in showroom discounts, PCP finance offers and strong residual values. Fuel economy is very good, for all engines. The 320d ED Plus is especially frugal, and has impressively low CO2 emissions, which makes it a sound choice for business users. The six-cylinder models cost more to own, but still make more financial sense than many rivals. BMW’s fixed-price servicing deals are good value for money.

Quality & Reliability

In its class only the A4 Avant has a higher-quality feel than the 3 Series Touring, and even then the margins are small. The cabin is very classy, with soft-touch plastics, mostly expensive-looking materials and switchgear that feels precise and well engineered. The 3 Series’ three-year unlimited mileage warranty is more generous than some, but not class-leading. BMW didn’t cover itself in glory in our latest reliability survey, although Audi, Jaguar and Mercedes performed worse.

Safety & Security

The 3 Series saloon achieved a maximum five-star rating in Euro NCAP safety tests in 2012. The Touring model wasn’t tested, however, and the tests have become more stringent since then. Six airbags are standard but the Touring doesn’t have the driver’s knee bag. An optional pack adds lane departure warning system and a city braking. Security expert Thatcham gave the 3 Series five stars out of five for resisting theft and four out of five for withstanding being broken into. An alarm is standard.

Behind The Wheel

The 3 Series Touring scores highly for ergonomics in most areas. The controls are simple and easy to use, and the iDrive control system that operates most functions is the most user-friendly around. Visibility is good and reversing sensors, automatic lights and rain-sensing wipers are standard across the range. It’s all the more disappointing, then, that the manual seat adjustment is fiddly and, more pertinently, the pedals on manual versions are slightly offset.

Space & Practicality

The 3 Series Touring is on a par with most rivals for space, meaning there’s enough for most families. Up front tall folk aren’t likely to have any complaints, while the rear seats offer plenty of head and leg room for six-footers. Access is good and split-folding rear seats with a 40:20:40 aid versatility. The tailgate window opens separately, helpful in tight spaces. Boot space is good, if not as generous as in a Skoda Superb Estate. The rear seats fold almost flat for extra load space.

Equipment

The 3 Series Touring is generously equipped. Even entry-level SE models have sat-nav, cruise control, climate control, rear parking sensors, automatic headlights and wipers, Bluetooth and a digital radio as standard. Our favourite trim is ED Plus, the next step up the ladder, adds leather upholstery and heated front seats. M Sport trim includes cosmetic upgrades and bespoke bumpers and suspension. Models further up the range gain extra luxury kit, but start to look pricey.