BMW 3 Series review - Reliability and safety

Proven mechanical components bode well for reliability while its safety systems are among the best in class

BMW has a reputation for making solidly reliable cars, but its poor 27th placing (out of 30 manufacturers) in our 2020 Driver Power survey shows that there’s definitely room for improvement. 

The 3 Series didn't feature in the customer satisfaction poll, although the latest 5 Series (which shares much of its technology with the newest 3 Series) was ranked in 40th place, so this should bode well for the new car’s reliability. Many of the 3 Series’ infotainment systems, as well as the car’s basic structure, engine and gearboxes, have fared well in the 5 Series, so we would hope the 3 Series can improve its overall ranking.

BMW has a reputation for making safe cars, and the 3 Series doesn't disappoint. Euro NCAP put the latest car through a rigorous safety testing procedure in 2019 and awarded it a full five stars. Adult and child occupant protection achieved 97% and 87%, respectively.

Additional safety systems come under what BMW terms Active Guard Plus. This includes speed limit information, lane departure warning, a collision and pedestrian warning system with a city brake function, plus cruise control with braking function. For a more comprehensive suite of safety systems, buyers can add the Driving Assistant Professional package for around £1,250. This includes Active Cruise Control, steering and lane control assistant, lane keeping assistant with active side collision protection, priority warning and wrong-way warning systems and cross-traffic alert.

Included as standard is BMW’s Connected+ service, which can alert the emergency services in the event of an accident.

Warranty

BMW offers a three-year unlimited mileage warranty on the 3 Series, and this also includes a three-year subscription to the BMW Emergency breakdown service. This is broadly similar to the warranty offered by Mercedes, but better than the 60,000 mile limit favoured by Audi. The BMW warranty can be extended after the initial three-year period with either monthly or annual payments and differing levels of cover.

BMW’s paintwork warranty lasts for three years, while its anti-corrosion warranty is of 12 years in duration.

Servicing

The 3 Series will require servicing approximately every 20,000 miles, dependent on the car’s use and mileage covered. 

To ease the burden of unexpected costs, BMW runs a scheme called Service Inclusive which offers fixed price servicing for three years or 36,000 miles. This will cover all standard scheduled servicing including oil changes, replacement air and fuel filters (depending on model) and spark plugs if required. Prices for Service Inclusive start from around £400 and it can be taken out at any time until the car’s first service is due.

Which Is Best

Cheapest

  • Name
    318i SE 4dr Step Auto
  • Gearbox type
    Semi-auto
  • Price
    £29,990

Most Economical

  • Name
    330e SE Pro 4dr Auto
  • Gearbox type
    Semi-auto
  • Price
    £36,970

Fastest

  • Name
    M340i xDrive 4dr Step Auto
  • Gearbox type
    Semi-auto
  • Price
    £48,070

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