Compact Executive Car of the Year 2019: BMW 3 Series
The BMW 3 Series is the 2019 Auto Express Compact Executive Car of the Year, with the Alfa Romeo Giulia and Mercedes C-Class commended
The previous BMW 3 Series was still a contender in the compact-executive segment, even at the end of its life. Yet this new version builds on what made it great, while also adding even more tech to help propel it to the top of the class.
As ever, key to the 3 Series’ appeal is still the way it drives. BMW has improved the car yet again in this area, and with its agile chassis, composed ride and brilliant driving position, it’s a delight from behind the wheel. Few models in this sector are as much fun, and yet the 3 Series is also the most comfortable car in its class.
New suspension tech means the dampers control the body superbly, and filter out all but the worst the road can throw at the chassis. As you add more speed it just gets better. That means the BMW is as good on a motorway, where most buyers will probably spend a lot of time, as on a twisty back road. It gets the ride and handling balance just right.
This latest version has been upgraded with a new interior that’s also a big step forward and balances usability, looks and technology. The infotainment system and sat-nav are among the best on sale in any car, with an intuitive and modern-looking interface, and the digital instrument cluster found on some models is another cutting-edge touch.
The seats are very comfortable and there’s plenty of room in the back for passengers, too, thanks to this seventh-generation 3 Series’ slightly swollen dimensions over its predecessor’s; it means the BMW makes the cut as a family car. In fact, coupled with a big 480-litre boot, that makes this one of the more practical junior executive saloons around, even if the styling might prove divisive.
The evergreen 320d auto features a fantastic 187bhp 2.0-litre diesel that promises more than 50mpg, while CO2 emissions of 118g/km mean that it’s cheap to run as a company car. That’s crucial in this sector, with many user-chooser company car buyers. But the BMW’s real party trick is the way it manages to be good to drive, refined, advanced, practical and economical all at the same time.
BMW 320d M Sport Sport auto (£38,325)
The 320d’s balance of performance and economy is spot-on, and the 3 Series is so refined that you won’t notice the diesel rattle when it’s warmed up. M Sport trim brings 18-inch alloys and a sporty exterior look, but it’s worth the price of entry for BMW’s Live Cockpit Professional system, with a 12.3-inch screen, sat-nav and connected services. Go for the auto gearbox, too.
Alfa Romeo Giulia
Alfa’s Giulia brings something a bit different to the class, because it’s quite a step away from the German metal that dominates here. With sharp styling, a sublime chassis and some fantastic petrol engines, it’s the one to go for if you value the driving experience and want an alternative to the usual German trio.
Last year’s winner gets a deserved commendation, thanks to the same great blend of traits that helped it to the 2018 crown. The cabin is comfortable, there’s a wide choice of efficient engines and the C-Class is practical; it’s just that the 3 Series has moved things on incrementally in every area.
Auto Express New Car Awards 2019
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- 1IntroductionWhat are the best new cars to buy in the UK today? The 2019 New Car Awards have the answer...
- 2Car of the YearThe Auto Express Car of the Year for 2019 is the all-electric Tesla Model 3
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- 5Convertible of the YearThe MINI Convertible is the 2019 Auto Express Convertible of the Year, with the Audi A3 Cabriolet and Mercedes E-Class Cabriolet commended
- 6Compact Family Car of the YearThe Skoda Scala is the 2019 Auto Express Compact Family Car of the Year, with the Mazda 3 and Toyota Corolla commended
- 7Family Car of the YearThe Vauxhall Insignia Grand Sport is the 2019 Auto Express Family Car of the Year, with the Skoda Superb and Toyota Prius commended
- 8Compact Executive Car of the Year - currently readingThe BMW 3 Series is the 2019 Auto Express Compact Executive Car of the Year, with the Alfa Romeo Giulia and Mercedes C-Class commended
- 9Executive Car of the YearThe BMW 5 Series is the 2019 Auto Express Executive Car of the Year, with the Mercedes E-Class and Volvo S90 commended
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