BMW 3 Series Coupe
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BMW 3 Series Coupe Overall verdict
BMW has raised the bar with the current generation of 3 Series Coupe. It's fast, frugal and fearless
All the big diesel cars are pretty cool. But a de-badged BMW 318i with ‘M-Sport' written all over it will make people want to hit you in the face with a hammer. And hammer wounds aren't cool.
What is it?
Still the graceful old-shape 3-Series, but not for long. BMW will soon replace it with the 4-Series range, bringing the 3-Series Coupe to a close. The 4 is likely to be even more able and satisfying than this one, which is already a bit of a gem.
It's a really fluent and obedient car and never does anything unexpected. In the dry you get heaps of grip, though the huge torque of the 335i makes it easy to spin the inside rear wheel coming out of bends. Even in the wet it keeps its superb balance. Pressing the DTC button calls up a slightly looser traction-control setting, letting you push harder before the electronics intervene to save you from you. The ride though, is very hard so expect to feel everything the road has to offer. Active Steering is available but we prefer the car without. Self centring in straight running is more natural when the fancy gadgetry is absent, as is the initial feel into corners.
BMW's obsession with run-flat tyres has buggered the ride quality, and an inherently sporting set-up means that a BMW feels a bit stiff compared to non-German rivals. The 3-series is pretty good on space though, and all BMWs are usually quiet and accomplished cruisers.
The latest generation of 3 Series Coupe is available with nine engines. Count 'em: 320i, 325i, 330i, 320d, 325d, 330d, 335d and the 420bhp V8 in the M3. The 325i is a lovely, smooth engine but it doesn't have the bite you'd expect for 218bhp. It's fast, yes, but it soon runs out of breath when pushed hard and it always leaves you wanting more. The 306bhp turbocharged three-litre 335i by comparison, is a real star. The peak torque arrives at 1,300rpm and stays on the same high plateau until 5,000. Okay, there is some turbo lag at the very lowest revs, but beyond 2,000 it picks up and runs like a V8. It's a cinch to make swift progress along A-roads, and because the urge is so accessible, passing slower cars is similarly simple. The M3's V8 is awesome, with terrifying levels of performance from it's four-litre V8.
On the inside
Plenty of room in the back, despite the slightly lower roofline than the saloon. It's okay for adults in there, though no one would want to be climbing in and out too often unless they were in training for a pot-holing weekend. The boot is a good shape and at 440 litres a healthy size.
Built to BMW's typically high standards, the dash is basically as per the saloon, which means thick materials, tight panel gaps and all the buttons giving a lovely damped action.
One of the most cost effective coupes to own. Even the 335i returns just under 35mpg and is three categories short of the maximum company car tax banding. The diesels are impressively clean and frugal while it's expected the car's residual values will be excellent.