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BMW 3 Series Saloon models and trim levels explained

Get to know the BMW 3 Series Saloon range and find your perfect model

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The BMW 3 Series Saloon is a real fan-favourite on the roads, amassing a loyal following thanks to its handsome good looks and brilliant engines.

It’s a timeless model and a top choice for a luxury car that’s functional and fun.

The 3 Series Saloon rivals cars like the Audi A4 and Mercedes-Benz C-Class, and is undoubtedly fierce competition.

The fun you’ll have behind the wheel is a huge factor in this, but the plush interior and all-round good looks help put the cherry on top.

There is a range of engines to choose from in the 3 Series lineup, with a special mention going to the 3.0-litre turbocharged petrol option that offers an incredible 374hp from a six-cylinder engine that BMW loyalists adore.

You can also pick a 330e model for some plug-in hybrid power, helping you stay efficient on fuel while enjoying the powerful engine.

BMW 3 Series models explained

The BMW 3 Series Saloon is a real crowd-pleasing car that will suit many motorists, but there’s also the 3 Series Touring and Gran Turismo model if the Saloon isn’t quite doing it for you.

A 3 Series Saloon might be your perfect car if:

  • You love the luxe feel of a BMW and fancy the sleek saloon styling.

  • The 3 Series engine range gets you excited, with some powerful contenders.

  • You enjoy a plush interior with all the classic BMW bells and whistles.

When considering a BMW 3 Series Saloon, there are some things to take into account.

You might prefer the Touring, Gran Turismo, Convertible or a competing model if:

  • You want to stick to a smaller budget, as high-spec models can be pricey.

  • You’re not a huge fan of the saloon shape and prefer the estate styling of the Touring, or the Gran Turismo.

  • The plug-in hybrid isn't enough, and you’d prefer an all-out electric car.

BMW 3 Series trim levels explained


The 3 Series SE is the entry-level model in the range but still comes kitted-out.

Expect three-zone climate control, built-in sat-nav, and a reversing camera.


Move up the range to the 3 Series Sport for all the standard features plus chunkier 18-inch alloys, a larger fuel tank, and exterior trim touches.

There’s also Apple CarPlay and Android Auto to play with.

M Sport

The crowning glory of the 3 Series range is the M Sport, providing a sporty body kit and matching steering wheel, plus an upgraded 12.3-inch infotainment screen.

Best BMW 3 Series Saloon engines

The BMW 3 Series Saloon is particularly well- regarded for its engine offerings, with this being one of the main reasons why the car has such a loyal following.

There’s a range of 2.0-litre and 3.0-litre engines on offer as well as the plug-in hybrid model.

All of these are ideal for day-to-day driving, but there’s some real power on offer if you need it.

The M340i xDrive is the crowning glory of the range, with a 3.0-litre turbocharged six-cylinder petrol engine that’s capable of a massive 374hp.

If you prefer diesel, you can get 340hp from the M340d xDrive, thanks to its 3.0-litre set-up.

This one should also be the more efficient option, but that depends on how you use the power...

You can choose from automatic BMW 3 Series models or classic manuals, and there’ are options for front-wheel and rear-wheel-drive.

BMW 3 Series Saloon plug-in hybrid

Some BMW fans would be upset at the idea of adding electric power to this iconic vehicle, but it’s well-suited to hybrid life.

BMW claims that the 12kWh battery in the 330e is capable of up to 34 miles of electric range, so short journeys can be fuelled by electric power if you keep on top of charging.

It feels great to drive too, with the 330e available as both a rear-wheel and four-wheel-drive depending on your preference.

Best BMW 3 Series models

The BMW 3 Series will suit a range of motorists, depending on what's more important to you as the driver.

There are enough choices in this line-up to find something for all potential 3 Series owners.

Take a look at our top picks for the perfect model:

The best BMW 3 Series for families

The BMW 3 Series Saloon might not be the first car that springs to mind when you think ‘family vehicles’, but the 3 Series Sport model has all the kit you’d need for comfortable family driving.

It’s got some handy safety features too, so you know it’s reliable.

The best BMW 3 Series for value

The entry-level BMW 3 Series SE model comes with the same luxury feel as the pricier trim levels and is still mightily impressive, with loads of standard kit.

Opt for the 320d engine for a quintessential BMW drive.

The best BMW 3 Series for performance

It’s no competition – the BMW M340i xDrive is the one to pick if you want performance.

Does a claimed 0-62pmh of 4.4 seconds sound good?

The best BMW 3 Series for tech

A BMW 3 Series M Sport model will offer all the bells and whistles you could want, including an upgraded 12.3-inch infotainment system with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

BMW 3 Series body types explained: Touring, Gran Turismo and Convertible

The BMW 3 Series Saloon isn’t the only body type in the range; you can also pick from Touring, Gran Turismo hatchback and Convertible models.

The BMW 3 Series Touring is the estate style body and offers a 500-litre boot and spacious cabin.

It’s a great alternative to the SUVs that are currently taking over the car market and offers more boot space than the 480 litres in the Saloon.

If you like a hatchback shape, the BMW 3 Series Gran Tourismo is the one to pick.

It’s a comfortable model with a cushy suspension that makes it enjoyable to drive.

For some wind-in-hair action, the 3 Series Convertible is an unbeatable choice.

It’s seriously good-looking and is a lot of fun to drive, but it’s less spacious than others in the lineup due to the convertible roof.

a white bmw 3 series touring being driven on a road

Used BMW 3 Series Saloon reliability

Buying a used car can often raise questions around reliability, but a pre-owned BMW 3 Series is still going to be a dependable model.

The high-quality manufacturing is a trademark of the brand and the premium finish is undeniable, so you know you’re getting an impressive car.

When it comes to consumer surveys, the 3 Series performs well and is positively reviewed by its drivers.

It places well on leader boards and was awarded a five-star Euro NCAP safety rating back in 2019.

Finance deals on BMW 3 Series Saloon models

You can get a used BMW 3 Series Saloon on Personal Contract Purchase (PCP) and Hire Purchase (HP) car finance if you’d like to spread the cost.

Car finance can be a helpful way to split the cost of a car into manageable chunks.

With PCP, you’ll pay the depreciation amount and will have an optional final ‘balloon payment’ at the end of your contract to take ownership, while HP spreads the full cost of the car.

If you choose PCP car finance and think you might want to return your car at the end of the contract, you’ll need to keep an eye on any damage to the car.

Anything more than fair wear and tear might require you to pay damage fees, so keep on top of repairs.

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