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BMW 3 Series M Sport review

A popular choice in the UK, the 3 Series M Sport mixes usual 3 Series traits of a great drive and low running costs with a sportier look

Overall Auto Express Rating

5.0 out of 5

The most dynamic-looking BMW 3 Series short of a full-blown M car, the 3 Series M Sport ups the sportiness levels while keeping running costs in check. Delete the sports suspension if the firm ride is too much and you’ll have a striking version of our compact executive champ.

The BMW 3 Series is our favourite compact executive car, and it’s a popular choice in the UK for both private and company car users. 

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The 3 Series M Sport has all the usual trappings of the 3 Series range, but dressed up with a more aggressive body kit, larger alloy wheels, gloss back exterior trim and a smattering of M badges around the cabin, and on the front wings. 

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The 3 Series M Sport comes with engines available elsewhere in the 3 Series range, so that means a comprehensive selection of petrol and diesel units to consider. 

Diesels will account for the majority of sales of the 3 Series M Sport, and there are plenty to choose from. The diesel range consists of 318d (141bhp), 320d (181bhp), 325d (215bhp), 330d (254bhp) and 335d (309bhp) models, so there should be one to suit every kind of buyer.

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BMW’s xDrive four-wheel drive system is also available on 320d and 330d models for an extra £1,500, while the 335d comes exclusively in xDrive guise. 

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On the petrol front, there’s a less extensive line-up comprised of the 320i (181bhp), 328i (242bhp) and 335i (302bhp). The 320i and 328i are derived from the same 2.0-litre 4cyl unit, while a 3.0-litre straight-six unit powers the 335i. 

On the road, the 3 Series M Sport has a lower, stiffer suspension set up than the rest of the range, meaning it can become crashy and unsettled over bumps. The good news is that this can be de-selected on the options list at no extra cost, meaning the 3 Series M Sport still retains the dynamic looks but rides as comfortably as the rest of the line-up. 

The 3 Series offers excellent grip and direct steering, plus the standard rear-wheel drive layout delivers a great combination of agility and security on the move. Should you get a bit overexcited, the 3 Series is equipped with ESP as standard to keep things in check. 

Engine and gearbox settings can be tweaked through BMW’s Drive Performance Control system: enabling you to toggle between EcoPro, Sport and Comfort modes – all of which are pretty self-explanatory. All cars come with a slick six-speed manual gearbox, while a smooth and refined eight-speed automatic option is available at extra cost. 

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Move inside, and the 3 Series M Sport has a few tweaks over standard SE, Sport and Luxury models. You’ll find M Sport badges dotted around the cabin and a chunky multifunction M Sport steering wheel and gear lever. BMW’s Dakota leather trim comes as standard in either black or red choices, while there are also a few different trim colour options for the dash and centre console. 

There’s plenty of head and legroom for four adults in the car, plus the boot can take a respectable 480 litres. It’s well shaped, but the load lip is a bit high, which limits the ease with which you can load heavy items. Practicality is helped by a wide, square opening, plus the rear seats can be folded down with just the flick of a lever from the boot – if you specify them from the options list.

Thankfully, the 3 Series M Sport doesn’t have the running costs you might expect of something that looks this sporty. With engines from the rest of the 3 Series range, costs are kept in check thanks to fuel-saving tech and the latest advanced engineering. 

Now read our full review of the BMW 3 Series. 

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