In-depth reviews

BMW 3 Series - Practicality, comfort and boot space

Leg and head room are better than before, with the 3 Series now matching or beating its rivals for interior space

Overall Auto Express Rating

5.0 out of 5

Practicality, comfort and boot space Rating

4.6 out of 5

£39,580 to £59,165
Find your BMW 3 Series
Offers from our trusted partners on this car and its predecessors...
Or are you looking to sell your car?

The 3 Series is bigger than it was before, and the main focus for BMW has been on improving accommodation for those in the back. As a result it now offers similar levels of space as the Audi A4 and the Mercedes C-Class. BMW says the 3 Series is now wide enough to accommodate three child seats side by side in the rear, but only the two outside positions come with Isofix points.

Both front seat occupants should be able to find a comfortable position with a good range of seat adjustment and a steering wheel that’s adjustable for height and rake. The standard upholstery included with the Sport trim is BMW’s ‘Sensatec’ upholstery, which is a vegan-friendly alternative to leather. Moving up to M Sport adds in part-Alcantara upholstery, along with the option of genuine leather.


As with most new cars, the 3 Series has grown in comparison with its predecessor. It is now 4,709mm long (up by 85mm), 16mm wider (at 1,827mm) and a scant 1mm taller. The C-Class is a touch shorter by 23mm while the Audi A4 is longer at 4,738mm. The Audi is 13mm wider and the Mercedes is 17mm narrower – as near as makes no difference. 

What has changed significantly for the BMW 3 Series is that its wheelbase has been extended by 41mm, which gives more leg room for rear passengers. Indeed, it now has the longest wheelbase of the three cars. In addition to this the car’s front and rear tracks have also been widened in the quest for improved ride and handling. 

Leg room, head room and passenger space

If the 3 Series had previously been a little tight in the rear for three passengers, it now offers a decent amount of legroom. That’s thanks to the increase in wheelbase, but if three adults are carried in the rear, the middle seat passenger might feel a little hard done by as the middle seat is a little hard and has less legroom thanks to the transmission tunnel.

There should be no complaints on the amount of headroom though, as the 3 Series offers a few millimetres more than either the Audi A4 or Mercedes C-Class. There’s plenty of room for storing oddments too, with decently sized door pockets.

The driver and front seat passenger fare very well with comfortable and supportive seats. So far we’ve only sampled the sports seats that come in the Sport and M Sport models, but we would expect the standard seats to be comfortable as well. One slight disappointment is that lumbar support is an option rather than a standard feature. 


While the 3 Series has grown in size, the same cannot be said of its boot, which stays at 480 litres – the same as the previous generation model. It should be more than adequate for most buyers without being class-leading. The Audi A4 has an identically sized boot but the C-Class falls a little short of its rivals with a 455-litre capacity.

As standard the 3 Series comes with 40:20:40 split folding rear seats that improve its practicality. If you opt for the Comfort package (around £1,100) you get extended storage with some handy nets in the boot compartment along with an electrically operated boot lid that can be opened by swiping your foot under the rear bumper.

Which Is Best


  • Name
    318i SE 4dr Step Auto
  • Gearbox type
  • Price

Most Economical

  • Name
    330e SE Pro 4dr Auto
  • Gearbox type
  • Price


  • Name
    M340i xDrive 4dr Step Auto
  • Gearbox type
  • Price

Shane is responsible for looking after the day-to-day running of the Auto Express website and social media channels. Prior to joining Auto Express in 2021, he worked as a radio producer and presenter for outlets such as the BBC.

Most Popular

New 2024 Dacia Duster: third generation of Europe’s best-selling SUV revealed
Dacia Duster - front

New 2024 Dacia Duster: third generation of Europe’s best-selling SUV revealed

Dacia has taken the wraps off the latest Duster, which arrives with a new look and fresh technology
29 Nov 2023
New Renault Scenic 2023 review: the famous nameplate returns in style
Renault Scenic - front
Road tests

New Renault Scenic 2023 review: the famous nameplate returns in style

We get behind the wheel of new all-electric Renault Scenic to see what all the fuss is about
27 Nov 2023
“Renault is taking over as the manufacturer of cars for the people”
Opinion - Renault Twingo

“Renault is taking over as the manufacturer of cars for the people”

Mike Rutherford thinks Renault is doing more than any other manufacturer when it comes to making affordable electric cars
26 Nov 2023