The BMW 3 Series is an icon of the BMW range with over 16 million sold to date in its 45-year history. The G20 3 Series arrived in Ireland in 2019 and now has been updated to keep it competitive in the compact executive class against rivals such as the latest Mercedes-Benz C-Class and the Audi A4. Subtle updates to styling and the addition of some new colours enhance the handsome 3 Series, but the most welcome changes take place in the cabin.

Caroline travelled to Munich with BMW Ireland to drive the latest 3 Series.

The new BMW 3 Series will arrive in Ireland before the end of the year
The new BMW 3 Series will arrive in Ireland before the end of the year


BMW has made a few small changes to the styling of the 3 Series – a subtle refining of the car’s classic good looks. Sold in Ireland as a Saloon or a Touring (estate), at the front the kidney grille has been redesigned with a slightly different contour and the addition of new vertical double bars. The grille hasn’t grown in size like some other BMW models. Available in Sport or M Sport trim levels, there are some different trim elements depending on which version you go for. The standard full-LED headlights now have smoother edges and feature new inverted L shaped daytime running lights. Boomerang-shaped air intakes at each side of the front bumper add more sporty definition, while the large central intake in M Sport models has a new honeycomb pattern. At the back there is a more pronounced rear apron emphasising the 3 Series’ sporty stance.

Sport models get 17-inch alloy wheels, while M Sport get 18-inch. Top of the range BMW Performance models come with 19-inch alloy wheels and 20-inch are now available through BMW M Performance Parts. The M Sport Pro Pack for M Sport models adds a black kidney grille surround, black chrome tailpipes, red brake callipers with M logo, and a black M rear spoiler for the saloon models. New colours include Skyscraper Grey, and M Brooklyn Grey – exclusive to the M Sport – as well as several ‘frozen’ metallic matte finishes.

The interior of the updated 3 Series - just fabulous!
The interior of the updated 3 Series – just fabulous!


Inside, the 3 Series cabin has been modernised with the addition of the new BMW Curved Display for the very first time. We’ve seen this in some other new generation BMWs like the iX and i4, and it’s welcome addition to the cabin of the 3 Series. It looks sleek and high-tech, and gives a stunning widescreen effect. Using the latest BMW operating system 8, it now also responds better to voice commands. The climate controls are accessed through the screen – the manual knobs and switches are gone. But a shortcut on the screen means they are easy to access quickly. Other new features include a rocker switch for the gear selection and sporty paddles on the steering wheel are now standard across the range.

Elsewhere, the quality of the interior is excellent. It feels like a luxury car inside with lots of soft-touch materials and a variety of finishes including Sensatec synthetic leather seats in a number of colours.


Rear seat passengers can enjoy the new standard fit tri-zone climate control, though that large transmission tunnel makes the rear bench more comfortable for two rather than three. In terms of boot volume, there’s actually not much between the Saloon and the Touring, though the Touring naturally has easier access for loading and unloading. Opt for the 330e hybrid, and bootspace is reduced from 480 litres in the standard saloon to 375 litres. Petrol and diesel versions of the 3 Series Touring offer 500 litres of space or 410 litres in the 330e.

Some mild styling tweaks for the latest 3 Series
Some mild styling tweaks for the latest 3 Series


The 3 Series is available with petrol and diesel engines, some with mild hybrid technology, and as a plug-in hybrid. The 318d entry level diesel is no longer on sale, so the long-standing 320d with 190hp from a 2.0-litre, four-cylinder will be your best diesel option. All versions of the 3 Series now come with an 8-speed Steptronic automatic transmission. The 330e plug-in hybrid accounts for over 50% of 3 Series sales in Ireland and can be driven electric for up to about 60 kilometres.

On the road

The 3 Series is still a classic rear wheel drive car, but xDrive all-wheel drive is available across the range too. The top of the range BMW Performance models, the six-cylinder M340i (374hp) and M340d (340hp) offer stunning performance aided by a bespoke suspension, M Sport differential, sport transmission, rear-wheel drive focused xDrive, bespoke exhaust system, launch control and a sprint function. The M340i offers milder looks and performance than an M3 but what a car. The 3.0-litre, six cylinder engine is legendary, delivering power with urgency to a beautiful accompaniment of pops and bangs from the bespoke exhaust. The steering is ultra-precise, the car bounds around corners like a true athlete – an elite one.

Back in the 320d Touring, and it was a chance to revisit a more standard 3 Series experience. The 320d offers some of the best economy figures of the range, while offering good refinement on the move. BMW didn’t have to tweak the handling – the 3 Series still leaves rivals behind with the level of engagement and agility it offers.

No matter which version you go for, the 3 Series offers class-leading handling, feeling sharp and more driver-focused on the road than rivals. M Sport models come with a sports suspension (except the 330e plug-in hybrid) and do ride a bit firmer than more comfort-biased rivals like the new C-Class.

Rear seating in the 3 Series
Rear seating in the 3 Series


The latest BMW 3 Series starts from €52,440 for the 330e hybrid and the 320i petrol. The 320d now starts from €54,130. The range-topping, high-performance M340d xDrive and M340i xDrive are available from €83,870 and €89,120 respectively. There are two trim level, Sport and M Sport.


The BMW 3 Series is an icon of the BMW range. You don’t mess with an icon but the latest round of styling updates give the 3 Series a sportier and more mature look.

Inside, the 3 Series benefits from the new curved display.  It brings the 3 Series in line with other models in the BMW range and adds a contemporary finish to the cabin. But it’s still a gorgeous cabin, driver-focused with lots of good quality materials.

On the road, the 3 Series remains one of the most engaging to drive compact premium saloons. The line-up has been streamlined but the well-placed 330e and 320d should remain high on the shortlist.

Not a major update for the 3 Series but enough to keep it a front runner in its class thanks to its classic good looks, sporty drive and cabin experience.

The BMW 3 Series remains a great choice of compact executive saloon
The BMW 3 Series remains a great choice of compact executive saloon


Written by Caroline Kidd

Founder and Editor of Changing Lanes, Juror for Irish Car of the Year