Used buyer’s guide: BMW 3 Series Touring

From £4,500 Estate is great to drive and spacious, but you need to choose carefully

There are no poor choices where the 3 Series is concerned, as all of the engines are excellent. It’s the same with the transmissions; all E91s came with a six-speed manual gearbox as standard, but an excellent auto was optional. While the bigger engines provide more performance, the smaller ones give superior economy and adequate power for everyday driving. Entry-level cars are best avoided, so go for an ES or better equipped SE – the M Sport looks smarter, but features bigger wheels and stiffer suspension. With a firm ride already, this may make the car too uncomfortable for you.

Recalls

This generation of 3 Series Touring has been recalled three times. The first came in November 2006, because some cars built in March 2006 suffered brake servo failure. The next was in June 2009. It affected cars built from May-July 2008, whose airbags could fail in the event of a crash; the fault was down to poorly made wiring loom connectors. The most recent recall, in July 2012, was due to a potential problem with a control module, which could lead to failure of the electric power-steering.

Verdict

In 2011, the 3 Series was named the Best Compact Executive Car in our New Car Awards for the third year in a row, thanks to its style, dynamic excellence, image and economy. However, our Driver Power customer satisfaction survey suggests reliability has dipped as the 3 Series has aged, and running costs aren’t the lowest around. As a result, the BMW has to be seen as a bit of an indulgence – a premium product that’s priced accordingly. If you want practicality without having to sacrifice driving enjoyment, though, there are few cars that can compete with the 3 Series Touring.

Driver Power

Our view From 21st-place highs in 2008 and ’09, the BMW plummeted to 94th in this year’s Driver Power survey, thanks to high running costs, a poor ride and outdated in-car tech. Running costs, reliability and practicality were also low spots.

Your ViewAlex Greene from Chester owns a 2007 320d Touring. He says: “I love the drive, while the cabin is spacious enough. It also feels solid, but I’ve had several reliability issues, and with the car out of warranty, running costs are getting high.”

Contacts Official: www.bmw.co.ukForums: www.e90post.com, http://bmwenthusiasts.co.uk, www.bmw-forums.net

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