The BMW 3 Series has long been one of the big-hitters in the compact executive class. By most reasonable measures, there is very little to fault – the engine range is deeply impressive, the handling is sharp yet the ride is quite comfortable, and the levels of fit and finish inside the cabin are very high.
But how well will the Mercedes C-Class and Jaguar XE rival cope with all the sensible stuff? We’ve taken a look at the vital stats of both the 3 Series Saloon and Touring estate models, including external and internal dimensions, weights, and boot space. Don’t forget, you can put the BMW 3 Series in our car configurator to see how much you could save.
Despite their outwardly different appearance, both the saloon and Touring models have exactly the same dimensions from the outside. At 4,624mm long, both are 96mm shorter than the latest Audi A4. Not a vast difference by any means, but the shorter body might let you to squeeze into the last tiny parking space the Audi couldn’t manage.
If you compare the 3 Series’ basic measurements to those of the A4 and C-Class, there is little to separate the trio. In terms of both head- and legroom, the most spacious of the three is the new A4. When you see the differences, however, it becomes almost a non-issue unless you’re brushing your head against the roof – just millimetres separate these three in each measurement.
|Headroom (front/rear)||1,023mm / 957mm|
|Shoulder room (front/rear)||1,451mm / 1,458mm|
|Headroom (front/rear)||1,026mm / 973mm|
|Shoulder room (front/rear)||1,451mm / 1,460mm|
If practicality is your thing, then the Touring is the one to go for. Although the additional 15-litres of volume over the saloon may seem modest, the wide and tall hatchback opening makes loading bulky items into the rear a doddle. Again, margins are close – it’s worth noting that, at 505 litres, the Audi A4 Avant offers 10 litres more space than the BMW.
The Touring features standard-fit 40:20:40-split folding rear seats, making it easy to compromise between carrying longer items and one or two rear seat passengers. Fold all three sections down, and up to 1,500 litres is available.
|Seats up||480 litres / 495 litres|
|Seats down||n/a / 1,500 litres|
Turning circle and fuel tank capacity
The tight 11.2m turning circle isn’t just useful when you’re lost and need to perform a U-turn, but it also comes in handy when parking, particularly in bay spaces. To this end, the 3 Series can out-turn an Audi A4 by 20cm, but the Mercedes C-Class beats the 3 Series by the same amount.
Although the BMW’s 60-litre fuel tank is smaller than the one you’ll find in the Mercedes, the 74.3mpg-rated 320d Efficient Dynamics model can still waltz along for a whopping 980 miles before needing a refill. The equivalent C-Class can go even further on a single tank, but the BMW is 1.9mpg more frugal, making fuel costs cheaper for every mile you drive.
|Turning circle||11.2 metres|
|Fuel tank||60 litres|
When the latest generation of the 3 Series was released back in 2012, an emphasis was placed in trying to reduce weight to improve both performance and efficiency. As a result, the current car weighs on average 50kg less than it predecessor, while its 50:50 weight distribution was maintained to keep the same sporty feel from behind the wheel.
|1,460kg (316i)||1,765kg (335d xDrive Touring Auto)|
Find out more
For more details on the BMW 3 Series, head over to our full review section, where you’ll find an aggregated rating based on the opinions of the UK’s motoring press. Then put the BMW 3 Series in our car configurator to see how much carwow could help you could save, or take a look at our deals page for our latest discounts.