The sixth generation BMW 3 Series is a car that needs little in the way of introduction. Launched in 2012, it's since been recognised as a benchmark in the compact executive car sector and whether you opt for the four-door saloon or the five-door GT hatches or Touring estates, there's plenty of talent spread through the range. Buying used should be a fairly trouble-free experience. There's stacks of used stock out there and with a bit of careful trawling, you ought to be able to turn up a car in the right spec, condition and colour..

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It's tempting to think of this car as a retrenchment, that it might be an M3 that has dialled back the extremity of its predecessor. While the straight-six twin-turbo engine doesn't deliver quite the aural dynamics of its eight-cylinder normally-aspirated predecessor, that's a small price to pay for a car that's just flat-out faster, especially in upgraded 350bhp 'Competition Pack' guise. It's quicker and more talented in corners too, thanks to a better chassis and less weight to lug. Faster, more composed and far more efficient as well. And better equipped and better value. You can see where we're going here. Did we mention it's faster? It's certainly a better car and if in becoming so, you need to make one or two compromises, then perhaps that's a reasonable trade. BMW has moved adeptly with the times with this model and should be rewarded for doing so. The company is interested in building performance cars for a real and rapidly changing motoring environment and that's what it's done with this M3. It has embraced efficiency improvements while still offering old-school interaction - via three pedals and a stick should you want it. It's a very smart blend of the traditional and the modern and looks to move the game on by quite some margin..

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The BMW 3 Series Gran Turismo won't be a car that'll suit everyone in this market. Yes, it offers more space and that will appeal to countries such as China and the USA where estate cars aren't perceived as premium items, but the raised ride height and ride and handling changes won't suit those who love the sharp-handling saloon version. But these aren't the people targeted by this particular car. There is, after all, a lot to like about the 3 Series GT, especially in this lightly improved guise with its extra infotainment features and slightly smarter look. As before, there's acres of room in the back, the lovely ride and the versatility of that fifth door and huge luggage bay. And the 318d diesel engine we've looked at here suits the car perfectly with its easy, willing torque matched to impressive running cost efficiency. It's a 3 Series for families. On that basis, the GT is worth its place in the range..

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You can see why BMW had to build this car. With Audi proving the need for a five-door bodyshape in the compact executive segment and key markets like China and the USA proving distinctly lukewarm to estates, a hatchback 3 Series seemed the obvious answer. In contrast to its Ingolstadt rival though, BMW has gone further than simply adding a rear hatch to its existing saloon model. It's tried to do something a bit cleverer than that. Raising the ride height and giving the car a more commanding Crossover-type feel has given this car wider appeal without too many dynamic downsides. Those who object to the slightly vaguer feel probably shouldn't be buying this model anyway. It is, after all, supposed to be the 3 Series for families. Ultimately, it all depends what you want. I wasn't totally sold on BMW's 'Gran Turismo' concept in 5 Series form but I'm rather more convinced this time round. It may not be the 'ultimate driving machine' but then it doesn't have to be. In terms of versatility, it's the ultimate 3 Series. For many, that'll be all that matters..

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The 3 Series Touring has long been one of the quiet achievers in BMW's model range. It might just be the lowest key car the German giant sells but it's also one of the most impressive. Look behind the low-key styling and you find a car that does so much so well. What's more, estate car buyers usually have a sense of the pragmatic and will appreciate the great strides BMW have made with this improved version in terms of efficiency. It used to be that nothing really got close to a 3 Series in this regard. The gap has narrowed in recent years, but this 3 Series Touring still astonishes in offering sports car straight line speed with supermini fuel and tax bills. Plus of course, this model retains its unique selling point, something that no other prestigious compact estate in this segment can offer - rear wheel drive. If you're an enthusiast, you'll appreciate the benefits at once the first time you throw the car into a corner. Even if you're not, you might notice more responsiveness through the turns than you might usually expect from a car of this type. With contenders in this class so closely matched, it's the sort of thing that might tip the balance BMW's way. Try a Touring and you'll see why..

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Although the styling has divided opinion, the latest 3 Series has most agreeing that it points the way forward for the compact executive saloon with a coherent and sensible template. Running costs are now the key criterion when it comes to choosing a car of this ilk and with this 318d, they set an impressive standard. 62mph in under nine seconds combined with fuel returns of nearly 70mpg and a 111g/km CO2 figure is always going to impress. The challenge BMW faces with this car though, is that the gap between itself and the chasing pack when it comes to efficiency is no longer the yawning gulf it once was. Fortunately the 3 Series can rely on what has now become Plan B, namely the way the car drives. Bolster that with improved interior quality and the case for this improved sixth generation car looks extremely solid..

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It's always enjoyable when a car turns out to be better than expected. The price of this improved 3 Series may have gone up a bit but what's not up for debate is how far the 3 Series in general and this 320d in particular has kicked on and placed genuine distance between itself and the best of its rivals. Both business and private users will be drawn to a vehicle that can achieve nearly 70mpg and emit just 111g/km, or do even better if you opt for the slightly less powerful EfficientDynamics Plus model. As impressive as that ED Plus variant is, unless you're really intent on carving a few quid off your annual running costs, the standard 320d in entry level SE trim makes the most sense. It's quick, composed, and classily constructed. Right now I'd hate to be a product designer at Audi or Mercedes. BMW has produced what might just be the most impressive 'real world' car on the market..

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Four-seat convertible cars aren't always the sharpest propositions from a driver's perspective but if you are interested in a used drop-top that has its hustle intact, BMW is a sensible place to start. The German marque routinely gives the driving dynamics of its vehicles a higher priority than is afforded by the majority of its rivals. In a class of car where chassis rigidity and a semblance of sportiness often go the way of the fixed roof, such a policy can be all the more important for customers who are that way inclined. The E90 3 Series spawned a fine-driving compact executive saloon, estate and coupe and used buyers can proceed safe in the knowledge that every effort has been made to ensure the same applies to the convertible. .

Read Full BMW 3 Series Convertible (2007-2013) Review

There aren't many sports cars that are as complete as BMW's M3, reviewed here in its 'E46' guise. This is a sports coupe that will happily undertake the weekly shop, the daily commute and a long distance holiday yet still be able to log a fearsomely rapid time around the Nurburgring. Reasonably reliable, comfortable and beautifully built, this is the car that finally wrested the title of 'everyday supercar' away from the Porsche 911. What's more, it's even something of a bargain, especially as used models are now starting to be priced well below a new hot hatch. .

Read Full BMW M3 (2000 - 2007) Review

The E46 generation of 3 Series Convertibles were hugely significant cars for BMW. Although its predecessor, the E36, had a relatively easy run at the marketplace, the later cars had to contend with vastly improved rivals from Mercedes, Audi and Saab. As the recognised market leader, the BMW has thus far managed to stave off these more concerted attempts to dethrone it, but make no mistake - the 3 Series is top dog on merit. If you're in the market for a used BMW 3 Series Convertible there's a decent amount of choice facing you and no real lemons in the whole line up. What's more, these cars are usually well looked after so there are many more diamonds than dogs on the forecourts. The E46 3 Series Convertible is one of those cars where it's actually quite difficult to go wrong when buying used. .

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Thinking of buying an ordinary family saloon? You might be surprised to learn that for the same price, a curvy third generation BMW 3 Series could be residing in your driveway. Your neighbours will mistake it for a new car and you'll be taken for someone of taste, rather than a photocopier salesperson. At least, that's according to BMW... .

Read Full BMW 3 Series (1991 - 1998) Review

This is the compact executive express that rival manufacturers continually struggle to beat. So desirable is the post-1998 generation BMW 3 Series that despite the large numbers sold, it's still in demand as something of an exclusive purchase. Thanks to all those cars on the road however, secondhand prices are no longer as strong as they were: good for you, bad for the grey-suited corporate accountants. What it all boils down to is that for the same price as a tricked-up new Mondeo or Vectra, you could could put a delectable used fourth-generation 3 Series in the driveway. .

Read Full BMW 3 Series (1998 - 2001) Review

So far ahead of the chasing back was BMW's E46 3 Series when it was first introduced in 1998 that it seemed as if it would enjoy an extended period of dominance. BMW's rivals, however, had other ideas. The facelifted version of the 3 Series saloon and Touring models aimed to keep the model fresh and sales were indeed revitalised but a fresh crop of tough rivals meant that the 3 Series' slice of the compact executive pie was being steadily eroded. This increased competition kept BMW prices manageable and these savings have, in turn, been realised by used buyers of the post 2001 BMW 3 Series. The 3 Series has garnered a reputation as one of the most bulletproof used buys around so although prices are reasonable, don't expect any ridiculous bargains. You get what you pay for, even in these competitive times. .

Read Full BMW 3 Series (2001 - 2005) Review

The BMW 3-Series Compact is a car that has had a mixed reception in the UK. Many saw the car as a cut-price, outdated BMW for those suckered by the blue propeller badge on the bonnet. Others saw it as an entertaining alternative to the standard hot-hatchback fare. Whichever camp you find yourself in there's no denying that, even with the entry-level models, you're buying into all of the quality and depth of engineering for which the Munich firm have become renowned. As a used buy, the Compact opens BMW ownership up to those who were previously looking at far more mundane transport. A good thing or not? You decide. .

Read Full BMW 3 Series Compact (1994 - 2001) Review

The BMW 3-Series Compact never got off to a great start in the UK, being viewed by many as a cut-price, outdated BMW for those suckered by the blue propeller badge on the bonnet. True, those early E36 (1994-2001) models rarely hit the spot with enthusiasts, but BMW put a lot of that car's shortcomings right with the E46 series Compact launched in 2001. Here was a model range with modern engines, high tech suspension and up to date interiors. The styling still wouldn't win any prizes in a Concours D'Elegance, but at least it looked a little more contemporary. Used examples represent a budget entry into the BMW fold without too many sacrifices. .

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If ever a car was granted an easy run at a target, the E36 BMW 3 Series Convertible was it. Whilst the saloon had to contend with the Mercedes C-Class and the Audi A4, the Convertible version had no C-Class convertible nor topless A4 Convertible to interrupt its smooth ride to big profits. Shopping for a used BMW 3 Series Convertible opens up a big market, plenty of choice and the opportunity to buy as many lemons as gems. Although BMWs are, on the whole, admirably reliable, there are a few facts you need to go equipped with. Find out here. .

Read Full BMW 3 Series Convertible (1994 - 2000) Review

The BMW 3 Series coupe established itself as the default choice as the premium compact coupe of choice in the nineties. Mercedes were slow to respond, not launching the rival CLK model until 1997 and Audi's Coupe never really overcame the wholesale indignation of the fact that it pointedly wasn't an Audi Quattro. This left the field clear for BMW to clean up and during its lifespan it developed the E36 series Coupe to a finely honed excellence. Used examples are plentiful, but you'll need to be on your toes if you want to avoid the rogues. Prices have fallen to levels where the cars are getting into the hands of those who can't afford to maintain them, so shop with care. .

Read Full BMW 3 Series Coupe (1992 - 1998) Review

If asked to identify how the BMW 3-series coupe differed from its humbler saloon origins, most would point to the obvious - a deficit of doors. In fact BMW go to great lengths to point out that the BMW badge, the door handles and the side indicator lenses are the only visible parts shared with the saloon. Sure enough, park the two cars side by side and the differences become apparent. It's just this sort of attention to detail that have given BMW their reputation as one of the most bulletproof used car purchases around, with correspondingly implacable residual values. The Coupe is in high demand, so you'll have to be prepared to fork out for your fun. .

Read Full BMW 3 Series Coupe (1999 - 2006) Review

Although Touring designations have long been a part of BMW's history, it's been the 3 Series Touring that really established the concept of the lifestyle estate. Here was a market sector that emphasised performance, fun and youthfulness, neatly sidestepping all the connotations estates used to be saddled with. The E36 3 Series, produced from 1995 right through to 1999, was enormously successful and spawned an ever-wider array of Touring variants. One of them may well have your name on it. Here's how to make sure it's not a duffer. .

Read Full BMW 3 Series Touring (1995 - 1999) Review

Although most associate the BMW 3 Series with compact saloons or sports coupes, the Touring estate versions could be described as the unsung heroes of the range. As with any 3 Series purchase, they're well built and will retain their value doggedly, but unlike your neighbour's 318i saloon, they have a little more exclusivity. The additional practicality of the estate body shape can't be overlooked either, although they're hardly cavernous in the back. As a used proposition, the E46 generation 3 Series Touring is a sound bet. There won't be too many screaming bargains about, but if you want a quality, practical product that rewards the enthusiast driver, there's little to touch a Touring. .

Read Full BMW 3 Series Touring (1999 - 2005) Review

Whilst some airily dismiss the BMW M3 as the ultimate footballer's ride, to most of us it represents an achievable dream - in used form at least. Here is a car that can mix it with a Porsche 911 yet still carry four in comfort, boasts BMWs usual record for reliability and yet retains an almost unassailable cachet. Although the M3 first appeared in left hand drive E30 guise, it's the later right hand drive cars that we examine here. Any M3, on its day, can be huge fun, but the wrong one can saddle you with commensurately hefty bills. Tread carefully to separate the diamonds from the dogs. .

Read Full BMW M3 (1993 - 2000) Review

Could you really justify paying over £85,000 for a BMW M3? If you can, then this CS model will charm you. It's faster and more talented in corners too, thanks to its extra power. So yes, it certainly knows how to entertain. With the right buttons pressed and the right electronics de-selected, it's still a car you have to master, where yours are the risks but yours too the rewards. It can, in other words, still be slightly scary in a way a rival Mercedes or Audi could never be. And it's a potential collectors' item. Enough said..

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BMW has at last brought us a hybrid 3 Series model that makes real world sense. The old 'Active Hybrid 3' model never did, with its high price and tiny all-electric driving range. Fortunately, technology has moved on and this 330e demonstrates just how far. If you were thinking of a high-spec diesel-engined version of this Bavarian model, we think you really have to look at a 330e as a realistic alternative. The long waiting lists for this variant suggest that many potential customers are..

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The trouble with being the benchmark car in any sector is that you're there to be shot at. Take the BMW 3 Series Coupe for example. This is the car that's pasted onto the wall of the design studios of Audi, Mercedes, Lexus, Jaguar, Infiniti and anyone else with aspirations in this sector. BMW not only has to knock all these rivals down, it also has to battle the buying decisions of potential customers who know that the BMW is the best car in its sector but might feel tempted to choose something else for fear of being thought predictable. To successfully do this, the 3 Series Coupe couldn't afford to be just a little bit better than its rivals. Munich needed to engineer a gaping gulf in talent. The E92 generation 3 Series Coupe managed just that, but it needed to constantly keep moving in order to stay ahead. Here we look at the post-2010 facelifted cars. Do they still make the grade second time around?.

Read Full BMW 3 Series Coupe (2010 - 2013) Review

Just occasionally it's refreshing to choose something alternative, to swim against the tide a little. On other occasions, there are reasons why a given car is so popular and in the case of BMW's 3 Series Touring, it's not hard to see why. Beautifully finished, great to drive and with low depreciation that keeps a lid on running costs, the 3 Series Touring remains a very informed pick. .

Read Full BMW 3 Series Touring (2005 - 2012) Review

As the preferred option for compact executive car buyers who like an engaging drive to go with their brushed aluminium and brand equity, the BMW 3 Series always looked likely to go down a storm in coupe form. With the saloon's athleticism and unerring engineering packaged within a more graceful amalgamation of body panels, it was hard to see how the coupe could fail on the occasion of its 2006 launch. Fail it didn't and as a used buy, there's no reason why a two-door version of BMW's most bountiful cash cow shouldn't be a similar success. .

Read Full BMW 3 Series Coupe (2006 - 2010) Review

There's a special aura that surrounds the BMW M3, one that's replicated by precious few other cars. It's composed of ethereal stuff like the knowledge of the other great models that have carried the badge, the passion of the engineers who created them and the embarrassment in the supercars they've out-classed on race circuits around the globe. In fairness, and certainly by the time this V8-engined E90 series model arrived in 2007, the M3 probably was a supercar. It's just that this is a supercar with real everyday practicality and running costs that make used models accessible to the masses. With the realisation that you could quite conceivably own one, the M3 aura grows..

Read Full BMW M3 (2007 - 2013) Review

BMW got back to basics with the E90 generation 3 Series. This was the car that shucked off the gimmicky styling and did what BMWs have always done best - concentrated on the engineering and let form follow function. The results have been spectacularly effective and are a testament to sticking with what you're good at. Used examples are now appearing in decent numbers but they do hold their value well despite industry mutterings of oversupply harming the car's so-called exclusive image. .

Read Full BMW 3 Series (2005 - 2011) Review

'More where you need more and less where you want less - otherwise leave well alone' seems to be the mantra of this seventh generation BMW 3 Series. If BMW wanted to build a model that would convert those who didn't previously fancy a 3 Series, then this MK7 design probably isn't that car. Its appeal is largely the same. If, on the other hand, you're crunching hard numbers, then it's hard to see this Munich maker's much improved mid-sized executive model coming off second best to anything in its division. The class-leading rear-wheel drive driving dynamics are merely the icing on the cake. Beneath the styling changes and interior upgrades are some serious engineering updates. A new family of petrol engines and big changes to the diesel powerplants come winging in, delivering unprecedented performance/economy combinations. The 3 Series has changed a lot about the way we buy cars in this class, continually forcing its rivals to play catch up. This one's no different. As you were, people..

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