The mark of a truly great New Car Honours champion is the ability to see off fresh rivals – and that’s exactly what BMW’s all-conquering 3-Series has done yet again this year. Unbeaten since its launch in 2005, the German saloon marches to its third successive title – despite the challenge of the all-new and highly competent Mercedes C-Class.
So what’s the key to BMW’s ongoing domination of the compact executive sector? Well, strength in depth is the main one. From ride to residuals, and power to paint choices, the 3-Series comes out on top in nearly every key area.
BMWs have always served up a great driving experience, and the 3-Series delivers the best in this sector. The classic front engine/rear-drive layout provides a near perfect balance and means that even base models corner with breathtaking ease. Then there’s the design, which oozes quality both outside and in. Despite its compact dimensions, there’s a decent amount of space inside, plus a fantastic driving position. The materials are first-class, and while the iDrive control system isn’t to all tastes, owners are far from short-changed for creature comforts and gadgets.
Another contributing factor to the BMW’s triumph was the introduction of three brilliant new engines. The twin-turbo 335i and 335d units are not only the strongest powerplants in the range, they’re among the most impressive performers anywhere in the new car market. With development like this, who’d bet against a fourth straight win in 2008?