The BMW 3-Series just turned 40, so we drove the lot
From 1975’s E21 to the latest 340i, Paul Horrell tests six generations of 3
BMW likes to tell us that the small sports saloon was invented with the first 3-Series. Cobblers.
In the late Sixties and early Seventies, the Alfa Giulia and Triumph Dolomite were highly regarded both for their dynamics and – no, seriously – their quality. So was the BMW 2002, of course.
But history is written by the winners. And in 1975, exactly forty years ago, the winner popped out onto the roads. It was the first BMW 3-Series. We're now on the sixth generation, and it's become the saloon by which all other manufacturers measure their efforts.
To see exactly what this path of evolution and refinement has done, I drove all six of them in the same afternoon down the same road. All were good, some were just plain fabulous…
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