With a figure of just 109 g/km for the 320d Efficient Dynamics and even the 242 bhp 328i being below 150 g/km, the 3 Series is the best performer in its class.
Definitely sleeker than the old model, with a front end that emphasises the car's width, thanks to headlights that flow into the traditional double-kidney grill and a wide, shallow air intake. It is also 93mm longer than the old model, something that rarely does the styling any harm.
You can have a great time throwing this car along narrow country lanes or hustling it along wider A-roads. The optional M-Sport adaptive suspension is well worth considering for drivers who really care about handling.
It has decent space and a well-controlled ride. The engines are exceptionally quiet when cruising which helps to make the 3 Series feel like a larger executive car on the motorway.
Quality + reliability
It looks and feels every inch the precision-engineered German piece of machinery. After a few million 3 Series, BMW knows how to build them properly.
Balancing performance with economy is what BMW does better than anyone. Whether you choose a petrol or diesel, it will offer more power for a given fuel consumption than pretty well any equivalent car
Normally the Achilles heel of small BMWs. The latest 3 Series marks a break with the past, however. Four large people can travel in comfort along with their luggage, despite the rear-drive configuration that steals space around the rear axle. The extra mechanical components are hidden somewhere, but they make no apparent difference to the amount of space available.
Servicing is hardly going to be cheap, but fuel consumption will be low and BMW is expert at managing residual values of used cars. While the latest model is relatively new, resale values will be particularly high.
Value for money
BMW is never going to give its cars away - it has to retain its premium image. However, we think spending the money on the 3 Series is a better bet than spending the same amount on a direct rival, which makes it decent value.
Stereo / Sat nav
The sat-nav is a definite step forward, with a particularly wide screen. At first the proportions look odd, but then you remember there is a reason TV screens are now letter-box format.