Best compact executive car: New Car Awards 2014
The BMW 3 Series is the 2014 Auto Express Compact Executive Car of the Year, with the Lexus IS and Mercedes C-Classs commended
Four decades after making its debut, the brilliant BMW 3 Series shows no signs of slowing down. Despite the arrival of numerous talented rivals, the BMW has maintained its grip on the compact executive crown.
It combines invigorating driving dynamics with low running costs, a decent dose of practicality and bags of upmarket kerb appeal. And all this means that the 3 Series has continued its New Car Awards winning streak to an incredible sixth straight year.
The key to success in this fiercely fought sector is convincing company car buyers to take the plunge, and few cars deliver a more compelling argument than the BMW. For starters, there are the low emissions – the clean 320d EfficientDynamics emits just 109g/km of CO2, while even the fiery 330d claims only 129g/km.
Factor in the car’s competitive pricing and you’re unlikely to be bitten by any bloated Benefit in Kind bills. And then there’s the generous kit list, which includes business essentials such as Bluetooth, automatic air-conditioning, cruise control and a DAB radio. The BMW is beautifully built, too, with an interior that mixes premium appeal with everyday practicality.
But it’s the 3 Series’ sublime driving experience that really makes it stand out. The rear-wheel-drive handling is beautifully balanced, there’s loads of grip and the major controls brim with feedback. Plus, with an extensive line-up of eager four-cylinder and smooth straight-six engines, there should be something for all tastes and budgets. There’s also the option of BMW’s confidence-inspiring xDrive four-wheel-drive system.
It’s going to take something very special indeed to knock the BMW off its place at the top of the podium.
BMW 320d EfficientDynamics (£28,775)
Rock-bottom 109g/km emissions make the 320d ED a no-brainer for business users. Happily, this focus on frugality doesn’t come at the expense of fun or standard kit.
Commended compact executive cars
Lexus has dared to be different with its handsome IS, and the result is a distinctive and desirable saloon. Under the skin, it uses the brand’s smooth and frugal petrol-electric hybrid system, while the classy interior is beautifully built and packed with equipment. Low CO2 emissions are the icing on the cake.
Sleek looks and a luxurious, S-Class-inspired interior help make the C-Class one of the most desirable compact executive saloons money can buy. It’s also available with plenty of hi-tech kit, such as LED headlamps and air-suspension. Yet the Merc is held back by its gruff engines and lacklustre handling.
- 1IntroductionWe reveal the best new cars on sale today in every sector of the market, plus we name our overall 2014 Car of the Year
- 2Car of the Year 2014The British-built MINI is Auto Express' Car of the Year 2014
- 3City Car of the YearThe Skoda Citigo is the 2014 Auto Express City Car of the Year, with the Hyundai i10 and Toyota Aygo commended
- 4Supermini of the YearThe Ford Fiesta is the 2014 Auto Express Supermini of the Year, with the Dacia Sandero and Peugeot 208 commended
- 5Premium Small Car of the YearThe MINI is the 2014 Auto Express Premium Small Car of the Year, with the Audi A1 and Citroen DS3 commended
- 6Small Family Car of the Year The SEAT Leon is the 2014 Auto Express Small Family Car of the Year, with the Mazda 3 and Volkswagen Golf commended
- 7Family Car of the Year The Mazda 6 is the 2014 Auto Express Family Car of the Year, with the Skoda Superb and Vauxhall Insignia commended
- 8Estate Car of the Year The SEAT Leon ST is the 2014 Auto Express Estate of the Year, with the BMW 5 Series and Skoda Octavia Estate commended
- 9MPV of the Year The Citroen Grand C4 Picasso is the 2014 Auto Express MPV of the Year, with the Citroen C4 Picasso and SEAT Alhambra commended
- 10Crossover of the Year The Nissan Qashqai is the 2014 Auto Express Crossover of the Year, with the Citroen C4 Cactus and Mazda CX-5 commended