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In-depth reviews

BMW 3 Series - Reliability and safety

The BMW 3 Series scores highly for NCAP safety, and its unlimited mileage warranty compares well with rivals

Overall Auto Express Rating

4.5 out of 5

Reliability and Safety Rating

4.0 out of 5

Price
£40,180 to £60,020
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​BMW has slipped in our reliability rankings, down from 16th in our 2022 Driver Power customer satisfaction survey to 21st out of 32 manufacturers in 2023. That shows there’s some room for improvement, especially when Tesla managed to get 3rd place overall.

The 3 Series finished in 46th place out of 75 cars in the Driver Power best cars to own poll. That’s not a bad result, but again, it was beaten by the Tesla Model 3, which came higher in 22nd place.

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Euro NCAP put the seventh-generation 3 Series through a rigorous safety testing procedure in 2019 and awarded it a full five stars. It scored higher in adult, child occupant, and vulnerable road user categories than the Tesla Model 3, but the Model 3 was well ahead of the 3 Series for autonomous safety technology.

Additional safety systems come under what BMW terms Active Guard Plus. This includes speed limit information to warn you about the limit on the road you’re driving on, lane departure warning to let you know if you are straying out of your lane, a collision and pedestrian warning system with a city brake function to put the brakes on if it thinks you’re going to hit something to either avoid or mitigate a collision, and cruise control with a speed limiter function. A BMW Emergency Call service is offered as standard, which can alert the emergency services in the event of a collision.

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For a more comprehensive suite of safety systems, buyers can add the Driving Assistant Professional package for around £2,200. This includes adaptive cruise control to keep you a safe distance from the vehicle in front, a steering assistant to help keep you in the middle of your lane on the motorway and a lane-keeping assist system to not only keep you within your lane, but also intervene if you’re about to collide with a vehicle travelling alongside you in your blindspot. There’s a wrong-way warning system that detects ‘wrong way’ signs if you happen to drive down a road in the wrong direction, and a cross-traffic alert system to warn you of vehicles crossing your path when reversing or entering a main road from a junction.

Warranty

BMW offers a three-year unlimited mileage warranty on the 3 Series, and this also includes a three-year subscription to the BMW Emergency breakdown service. This is broadly similar to the warranty offered by Mercedes, but better than the 60,000 mile limit favoured by Audi. The BMW warranty can be extended after the initial three-year period with either monthly or annual payments and differing levels of cover.

BMW’s paintwork warranty lasts for three years, while its anti-corrosion warranty is 12 years in duration.

Servicing

Your 3 Series will indicate to you when it requires servicing using a countdown timer in miles and days. You can purchase a BMW Service Inclusive plan with your new car, either paying upfront to cover you for the first five years or 62,000 miles, or opting for a BMW Pay Monthly Service Plan over three years, with prices for the 3 Series starting from around £26 per month.

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Which Is Best

Cheapest

  • Name
    318i SE 4dr Step Auto
  • Gearbox type
    Semi-auto
  • Price
    £30,470

Most Economical

  • Name
    330e SE Pro 4dr Auto
  • Gearbox type
    Semi-auto
  • Price
    £36,970

Fastest

  • Name
    M340i xDrive 4dr Step Auto
  • Gearbox type
    Semi-auto
  • Price
    £48,070

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.

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