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Driving all the BMW 3-Series, Chapter 5: E90 (2005-2015)

‘A big leap, and a controversial one’: Paul Horrell tests the fifth-gen 3er

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Previous: driving the 1998 ‘E46’ 3-Series

E90 320iS

Time for another big leap, and a controversial one. This three got a jagged Bangle-ised exterior and an interior dominated by the primordial iDrive.

It feels heavier, is bigger, and more serious than what’s gone before. But more likeable? Nope.

To be fair I’m not in an optimal version. This one has an M-tuned chassis and wide wheels with a hard ride, pointlessly heavy steering and more grip than its engine can live up to.

Still, taking the four-cylinder engine to 7300rpm is fun, and the M short-throw six-speed draws you in some more.

We’re getting modern here. Better, safer roomier, bigger. But some of the joy is leaching out of it.

Next: driving the 2012 ‘F30’ 3-Series

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