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BMW 3 SERIES Used Car Review

The 3 Series is German car maker BMW's signature model - a compact luxury passenger car that has existed in multiple generations since its 1975 debut. Since 2014, the 3 Series name has applied to sedan and wagon body styles only, with coupe and convertible models adopting the 4 Series nomenclature. The 3 Series has long been considered one of the most entertaining cars to drive in its class, and the flagship M3 performance variant is especially famous.

Pros

Cons

  • Entertaining to drive with beautiful handling
  • Fuel efficiency consistently excellent, and often class-leading
  • Superb performance of six-cylinder engines
  • Good build quality
  • Run-flat tyres (introduced in 2007 in lieu of a spare wheel) bring a firmer ride
  • Four-cylinder turbos replaced brand's famous six-cylinders in performance but not sound
  • Adaptive suspension (optional on many models) needed for best ride quality
  • Interior presentation has generally lagged behind rival Audi A4
This is general information and should not be relied on as purchasing advice.
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Overview of the BMW 3

Overview of the BMW 3

The 3 Series is German car maker BMW's signature model - a compact luxury passenger car that has existed in multiple generations since its 1975 debut.

Since 2014, the 3 Series name has applied to sedan and wagon body styles only, with coupe and convertible models adopting the 4 Series nomenclature.

The 3 Series has long been considered one of the most entertaining cars to drive in its class, and the flagship M3 performance variant is especially famous.

BMW 3 SERIES GENERATIONS (SINCE 1998)

1998-2006

2007-2012

2012-present

RUNNING COSTS

Fuel Consumption

2.0-litre 4-cylinder turbo petrol: 5.4-6.7 litres per 100km

2.0L 4-cylinder turbo diesel: 4.4-5.3 litres per 100km

3.0-litre 6-cylinder turbo petrol: 6.8-7.2 litres per 100km

3.0-litre 6-cylinder turbo diesel: 6.2-6.4 litres per 100km

Hybrid 2.1 litres per 100km

= Highly economical.

= Good economy.

= Average fuel use.

= Heavy consumption.

Servicing

SIMILAR MODELS TO BMW 3 SERIES

WHAT TO LOOK OUT FOR: BMW 3 SERIES

As with any high-end European car, don't go near a 3-Series that doesn't have a fully stamped service history.

Biggest potential grief comes from variable valve-timing system (VANOS, in BMW-speak) which can fail due to internal leaks within the hydraulic circuitry. Some six-cylinder 3-Series were even recalled to fix this.

Beyond a leak, VANOS can fail through a lack of oil changes as dirt and grit blocks the tiny oilways that operate the system. If it fails, it can cost thousands to fix and the car won't be right without it.

Any 3-Series showing a 'check-engine' light on the dash is cause for concern.

Some early cars from this series had a brake booster that could fail, leaving the car with brakes but no assistance, requiring the driver to press harder on the brake pedal.

Again, this was the subject of a recall, so check that it's been done on affected cars.