Best Compact Executive: BMW 3 Series
Why it won...
Improving on perfection isn’t easy, but the BMW 3 Series did just that when it arrived earlier this year. The outgoing model still ruled the compact executive roost at the time, so the new car had a job on its hands simply to be better than its predecessor.
We needn’t have worried, because the latest version has the dynamic prowess, efficient engines and classy interior that have made the old car such a hit – and adds a welcome extra dose of style and space to the recipe. As a result, the 3 Series is still the default choice if you’re in the market for a classy and cost-effective company car.
EfficientDynamics hardware includes stop-start technology and active aerodynamics, which help to slash both fuel bills and CO2 emissions, and this gives the 3 Series the edge over its rivals in the battle for company car honours. We’re big fans of the new look, too – the intricate grille provides some much needed visual interest on the outside. And from behind the wheel, it’s as fun to drive, capable and refined as ever.
Inside, it’s apparent that BMW has been in the business of making prestige saloon cars for decades. After years of evolution, the iDrive system is now a slick and user-friendly interface for controlling the standard-fit Bluetooth, stereo and optional sat-nav. And material quality is absolutely top-notch.
Yes, the 3 Series might seem an obvious choice as our favourite compact executive for the fourth year in a row, but the talents of the latest version make it a worthy winner.
Our choice: 320d EfficientDynamics
Compact executive saloons are aimed squarely at company car drivers, and the new 320d ED scores a direct hit. Its 2.0-litre diesel engine is tuned to optimise efficiency, resulting in CO2 emissions of 109g/km – and an enticingly low tax burden.
Audi A5 Sportback
The A5 Sportback is one of the executive sector’s best kept secrets. Its sleek profile and hatchback body work wonders for both its styling and practicality, and it comes with a comprehensive choice of engines and transmissions. It’s a far more stylish alternative to the sensible A4 saloon.
You've got to admire Citroen. Rather than try to beat the Germans at their own game, it has taken a very different path. The result is one of the most eye-catching cars on the road. The DS5 isn’t an engaging driver’s car, but if the clinical efficiency of its rivals leaves you cold, look no further.
- 1IntroductionThe awards everyone wants to win are back as we name the finest models in 18 categories and crown our Car of the Year for 2012
- 2Best City Car
- 3Best SuperminiPeugeot has rediscovered its touch. The RCZ coupe has been winning awards and turning heads for the last couple of years
- 4Best Compact Family CarIt was always going to take something special to beat the Volkswagen Golf, and the new BMW 1 Series is exactly that.
- 5Best Family Car
- 6Best Five-Seat MPVThe C-MAX has emerged from the shadow of the big-selling Ford Focus, and it deserves to take centre stage.
- 7Best Seven-Seat MPVThe SEAT Alhambra has made the MPV sector its own and after scooping the top prize last year, nothing in the past 12 months has been able to dislodge it from the top of the class
- 8Best Estate CarThe Skoda Superb Estate has scored a hat-trick of wins in the Estate Car category at our annual awards, and it’s going to take something seriously talented to knock it off the top step of the podium next time around.
- 9Best Crossover
- 10Best Compact SUV
- 11Best Large SUVIf the Discovery carries on at this rate, it will deserve an outstanding achievement award at our next New Car Awards.
- 12Best Hot HatchA fast Ford is back on top of the hot hatch pile, and having met the people behind the new Focus ST, we’re not surprised.
- 13Best ConvertibleThe best convertibles need to be as good with their roofs up as they are with them folded, and the Golf Cabriolet is exactly that.
- 14Best CoupePeugeot is back with a bang this year – although it never really went away.
- 15Best Roadster