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BMW 3 Series (2012-2018) Buying Guide

BMW 3 Series (2012-2018)
BMW 3 Series (2012-2018)BMW 3 Series (2012-2018)BMW 3 Series (2012-2018)BMW 3 Series (2012-2018)BMW 3 Series (2012-2018)BMW 3 Series (2012-2018)BMW 3 Series (2012-2018)BMW 3 Series (2012-2018)Pictures shown may not represent exact model specified

by Richard Dredge

When BMW launched the original 3 Series in 1975 it was an expensive car made in relatively small numbers, and the first generation came in two-door saloon form only. By the time production of the sixth-generation 3 Series was fully under way, BMW had created the 4 Series so as not to overwhelm its customers with variations on the 3 Series theme. As a result the 3 Series encompassed four-door saloon and five-door estate editions (along with the 3 Series GT hatchback), with the coupe and convertible now badged 4-Series. In typical BMW fashion the Mk6 3 Series was brilliant to drive and powered by some of the most efficient engines on the market. Superbly built and well equipped, the 3 Series was a big hit for BMW, despite its premium positioning - and as a used buy it's every bit as desirable.

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We LikeWe Don't Like
Great to drive
Very well made
Well equipped
Very safe
Efficient engines
Strong image
Costly to buy
Can be costly to run
M Sport's firm ride
So-so cabin space
Key Dates 
2/12The sixth generation BMW 3 Series saloon is launched in the UK. Codenamed F30 by BMW, there are 328i, 335i and 320d options.
7/12A 330d debuts alongside a hybrid (the ActiveHybrid3) and a 320i with xDrive four-wheel drive.
11/12The 316i and 320i EfficientDynamics join the range, both powered by a turbocharged 1.6-litre petrol engine.
9/12An F30 Touring appears, along with 316d and 318d engines.
1/13A DAB radio is now standard on all cars and the 325d is introduced.
7/15A facelift brings styling tweaks, LED headlights, new engines and an upgraded cabin.
7/16The 330e plug-in hybrid replaces the ActiveHybrid3.
Checklist 
  • The 320i and 328i have a 2.0-litre engine, the 316i and 320i Efficient Dynamics have a 1.6 turbo. The 316d, 318d, 320d and 325d have a 2.0-litre engine; the 330d and 335d are powered by a 3.0-litre straight-six.
  • When a mobile is paired via the bluetooth system, it can struggle to import data from the handset, but a software update should fix things.
  • The front seat frames can corrode, which lead to squeaks and creaks from the hinges and the various adjustment mechanisms.
  • A digital odometer means it&s easy to clock a , but the correct diagnostic tool will soon uncover if the clock has been wound back.
  • The regular 3 Series has power going to the rear wheels only, but xDrive models have four-wheel drive which gives much better grip in the wet.
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