The BMW 3 Series is one of carwow’s favourite compact executive cars. Thanks to a great choice of engines, a comfy yet entertaining chassis and a premium badge on the bonnet, it’s arguably the ideal all-rounder for a large proportion of the car-buying public.
In 2015, a mid-life refresh of the range brought with it a selection of new paint finishes, and a minor tweak to the prices. Striking the balance between picking a colour personal to you and one that is desirable on the used market can be tricky, so we’ll talk you through the options available.
If you’re taken by its Bavarian quality, put the BMW 3 Series or the BMW 3 Series Touring in our car configurator to see how much carwow could help you save. For more information on the differences between solid, metallic and special colours, read our paint types guide.
Alpine White – £0
Alpine White is a bright, crisp shade. Once seen as the budget colour, its explosion in popularity means white has become a much more desirable option. Remember to budget for keeping it clean. The 3 Series’ sharp lines work well in white, though you might irritate other drivers when they mistake you for a police car…
Jet Black – £0
The second of two solid colours available for the 3 Series – black is always a sensible choice. Very few cars look bad in black, and it will always be a desirable shade come selling time. Cheap car washes can make obvious swirl marks so don’t cut corners when cleaning it. Spec a large set of alloy wheels for a mean and moody look.
Mineral White – £645
For an extra £645, metallic elements give Mineral White a more upmarket feel than Alpine White. Given the demand for white cars at the moment, this option may be a sensible and desirable choice. Like other light colours, lots of washing will be needed to keep it looking good.
Black Sapphire – £645 (£0 M Sport)
It’s tough to make a comparison between Black Sapphire and Jet Black in the photos, but the metal flake of the former manages to catch the eye when the light hits it. It’ll make washing your car all the more satisfying because you’ll appreciate the 3 Series’ fine curves.
Glacier Silver – £645 (£0 M Sport)
Silver is a typical choice for a BMW and, regardless of trim level, wheel design or bodykits, it suits the car very well. It isn’t the most inspiring of options perhaps, but we wouldn’t blame you if it was your number one choice. It’ll be easy to sell to used markets and, while it’ll need regular cleaning, it won’t be as bad as a white car.
Mineral Grey – £645 (£0 M Sport)
This is the only grey option for the 3 Series. With a subtle blue tint, it’ll undoubtedly be a popular option and will be easy to sell on. It’ll hide road dirt for longer than lighter colours, too, so you won’t have to clean it as often as other hues.
Melbourne Red Metallic – £645 (£0 M Sport)
One of the few lively colour choices in the range – Melbourne Red works very well on sportier models – it isn’t uncommon to see the M3 in this colour. If you want to be a little different with your mid-size executive saloon, then this might be the colour for you, but it won’t sell as easily as black or silver on the used market.
Imperial Blue Xirallic – £645
A dark metallic blue never fails to look smart, and will always tempt used buyers. Imperial Blue offers a subtle, classy look which should be fairly desirable come trade-in time. It’ll hide the worst road grime for longer than a lighter car.
Jatoba – £645
One of the more subtle colours in a very subtle range, the dark greyish-brown Jatoba is ideal if you’d rather not draw too much attention to yourself. It does look fairly classy, however, so we expect it to be reasonably easy to sell on. It’ll hide road muck for an age before it requires cleaning.
Platinum Silver – £645
Platinum Silver differs from Glacier Silver courtesy of a slight gold tint, which is most apparent in bright sunlight. Used buyers should be tempted by this shade but you’ll have to budget for keeping it clean to get the best out of it.
Mediterranean Blue – £645
If you’d prefer a break from the sea of grey and silver cars on the road, Mediterranean Blue might be just the trick. A slightly bolder shade than Imperial Blue, it’ll attract lots of used buyers and be relatively easy to keep clean.
Estoril Blue – £0 (M Sport only)
Estoril Blue is a colour which has been used on BMW’s most potent M models for years. Thanks to its performance connection, it’ll have plenty of used buyers waiting to take it off your hands. Keep it clean to make it look its best.
Citrine black – £1395 (£845 M Sport)
When there are two other black paint finishes available in the range, it it becomes hard to justify spending comfortably over £1,000 for a colour which will only look different if you intend to polish your car daily. You won’t recoup your money when you sell it but you won’t struggle to find a buyer either.
Champagne Quartz – £1395 (£845 M Sport)
Gold is rarely considered a sporty hue when applied to a car, and that rings true here. We’d be unsure that this shade will be very sought after in a few years time, so we’d recommend having a good think before committing almost £1,400 towards it. It should hide road grime better than some lighter silvers and whites.
Tanzanite Blue – £1395 (£845 M Sport)
As with Melbourne Red, this is a shade frequently seen on the sportier models, in particular the M5 and M6. Up close, it really looks gorgeous and it is certainly one of our picks in the 3 Series range. Buyers might not flock to this like they do black or silver, but once you’ve cornered one, they probably won’t be put off by this shade.
Smoked Topaz – £1395 (£845 M Sport)
Of the three brown shades on offer, we feel that this is the most stylish. A subtle red tint lends it an upmarket feel, and it’s likely to be one of the less commonly chosen finishes that buyers will go for, so why not take the plunge? It won’t be as easy to sell as cars from the monochrome range, however.
Take a look at our aggregated review of the BMW 3 Series and Touring estate, complete with big, beautiful photos and detailed specifications. Then take a look at its main rivals – the Mercedes C-Class, the Audi A4, and the Jaguar XE.