It’s hard to think how BMW could fail with a car like the 3 Series coupe. You take perhaps the world’s finest four-door executive saloon, take away the rear doors, give it a sleeker body and cherry pick the best of an already impressive engine range and create perhaps the most desirable coupe package out there.

There are those who would argue that the 3 Series coupe is the 3 Series. The car started life as the two-door E21 back in 1975, and has been a stalwart of the world’s most recognizable car range ever since.

This latest, fifth-generation E92 3Series coupe changes the formula from previous 3 Series coupes. Whereas its predecessors have usually only had the styling changed at the rear to reflect the different bodystyle, the E92 gets its own distinctive bodywork, and therefore greater visual differentiation from the saloon and Touring.

These changes were supposed to bring with them a new name for the E90 3 Series coupe and its cabriolet sibling: 4 Series, in the same way BMW gave the 5 Series coupe the 6 Series badge.

But BMW’s marketing men have decided to stick with the 3 Series name, which in turn means the sledgehammer M3 model that crowns the range (and gets a V8 for the first time) kept the M3 name rather than a switch to M4.

While the step change hasn’t brought a new name, it has brought more premium pricing to reflect the 3 Series coupe’s new-found sophistication. And in a market place that’s more crowded than ever – chiefly with the Mercedes C-Class coupe and Audi A5 – can BMW back this up with the kind of quality 3 Series-badged product we’ve come to expect?

Top 5 Sport coupes

  • Porsche Cayman
    The Porsche Cayman is now in its second generation

    Porsche Cayman

  • The stated criteria for the GT86 read like a purist's manifesto: rear-drive, no turbo, ordinary tyres

    Toyota GT86

  • BMW M235i
    The BMW M235i is a rear-wheel-drive turbocharged coupé which rivals the likes of the Porsche Cayman

    BMW M235i

  • Costliest car gets the deftest chassis to ever underpin a TT - the best reason yet to buy into Audi’s coupe.

    Audi TTS

  • Peugeot RCZ R
    The front-drive RCZ R packs a 266bhp turbocharged engine

    Peugeot RCZ R


First drives

Find an Autocar car review

Driven this week

  • First Drive
    24 November 2015
    Suzuki has added an automatic diesel powertrain to its S-Cross crossover line-up. Does it offer a compelling choice over the manual versions?
  • First Drive
    24 November 2015
    Alpina’s D3 saloon and estate benefit from the latest BMW 3 Series updates. We've always loved it, but is it still as beguiling as ever in this latest form?
  • First Drive
    24 November 2015
    Our first UK drive shows that few supercars offer as rounded a package as Audi's new R8. It isn't the last word dynamically but it still has a lot to offer
  • First Drive
    20 November 2015
    A new 1.8 turbo petrol engine and manual gearbox make the Ibiza Cupra a more satisfyingly brutish, hands-on hot hatch, but it's still not the best of its breed
  • First Drive
    20 November 2015
    We sample a development prototype of the new, more powerful and track-focused Zenos E10 R