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. 

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. 

Best company cars

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.

Best executive cars

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. 

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. 

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. 

Most Popular

New 2021 Vauxhall Astra teased for the first time
Vauxhall Astra teaser 1
Vauxhall Astra

New 2021 Vauxhall Astra teased for the first time

The new Vauxhall Astra will get electrified powertrains and a more premium image
8 Jun 2021
‘Our switch to electric will soon make driving manual cars a lost art'
Gearknob
Opinion

‘Our switch to electric will soon make driving manual cars a lost art'

Want to drive a manual car? You need to take your test in a manual car. So what happens once all driving-school cars are automatic EVs?
8 Jun 2021
New Vauxhall Astra prototype review
Vauxhall Astra prototype - front
Vauxhall Astra

New Vauxhall Astra prototype review

A new Vauxhall Astra is on the way and we've driven a prototype ahead of its official arrival
14 Jun 2021
'The hydrogen underdog disruptor is back in town'
Toyota Mirai opinion
Opinion

'The hydrogen underdog disruptor is back in town'

Mike Rutherford says hydrogen-powered cars could still be a frequent sight on UK roads
13 Jun 2021
UN report highlights ethical problems with electric cars
Electric car charging
News

UN report highlights ethical problems with electric cars

Analysis reveals lithium refining takes 65 per cent of Chilean region’s water, while 40,000 child miners dig for cobalt in DRC
14 Jun 2021
New Porsche Macan facelift prototype review
Porsche Macan prototype - front
Porsche Macan

New Porsche Macan facelift prototype review

We get behind the wheel of a prototype version of the facelifted Porsche Macan SUV
13 Jun 2021
Illegal car modification hotspots revealed
Volkswagen Polo exhaust
News

Illegal car modification hotspots revealed

Gloucestershire has the highest proportion of illegal car modifications, with altered number plates the most common breach
14 Jun 2021
'Factories are at a standstill because they can’t get the parts to finish cars'
Car manufacturing
Opinion

'Factories are at a standstill because they can’t get the parts to finish cars'

Steve Fowler points out the fresh issues facing global car manufacturing
9 Jun 2021
Volkswagen Golf GTI Clubsport vs Cupra Leon 300
Volkswagen Golf GTI Clubsport vs Cupra Leon 300
Car group tests

Volkswagen Golf GTI Clubsport vs Cupra Leon 300

The capable Volkswagen Golf GTI Clubsport goes up against its new Cupra Leon 300 sibling in this hot hatch battle
12 Jun 2021
New Nissan Qashqai production begins in Sunderland
Nissan Qashqai - front static
News

New Nissan Qashqai production begins in Sunderland

Nissan will offer every school child in the North East of England a place on the Nissan Skills Foundation course to mark 35 years of manufacturing in …
14 Jun 2021
New 2021 Volkswagen T7 Multivan replaces Caravelle
Volkswagen T7 Multivan - front
Volkswagen Caravelle

New 2021 Volkswagen T7 Multivan replaces Caravelle

The Volkswagen T7 Multivan MPV switches to the MQB platform and adds plug-in hybrid technology
10 Jun 2021
New 2021 Tesla Model S Plaid launched with 1,006bhp
Tesla Model S facelift - front
Tesla Model S

New 2021 Tesla Model S Plaid launched with 1,006bhp

Range-topping version of the Tesla Model S officially unveiled, with a sprint time of 0-60mph in less than two seconds
10 Jun 2021
New hydrogen-powered Land Rover Defender prototype in development
Land Rover Defender
Land Rover Defender

New hydrogen-powered Land Rover Defender prototype in development

The Land Rover Defender FCEV prototype will be assessed for off-road and long-range zero-emission motoring
14 Jun 2021
New Skoda Enyaq iV 2021 review
Skoda Enyaq iV 80 Sportline - front
Skoda Enyaq

New Skoda Enyaq iV 2021 review

The new Skoda Enyaq iV is the Czech firm’s first bespoke electric car and we've tested the full range on UK roads
10 Jun 2021