The BMW 3 Series Coupe is stylish, recently updated and has an unrivalled blend of performance and economy
What is it?
The awesome twin-turbo BMW 335i coupé left us breathless, but it's time to sample the opposite end of the range - the 325i. The entry-level 3-series coupé uses a 2.5-litre straight six producing 215bhp and 184lb ft of torque. Mated to a six-speed manual box, that results in a 0-60mph time of 6.9secs and and top speed of 152mph. BMW claims a combined economy figure of 33.6mpg.
What's it like?
Don't expect 335i performance - but then, you could say that of most cars. The 325i feels far more like a tourer than a sports coupé. It's an accomplished, refined cruiser, but that relatively low torque figure means that while in-gear acceleration is decent enough, it never seems rapid.
The steering is heavy but direct, and the gearchange has a slightly rubbery mechanism but is ultimately slick enough. The handling isn't quite as precise as the 335i but that's down to the lack of uprated sports suspension - and that means the ride is one area where the base model can trump the range-toppers. It's less fidgety.
The rest of the car highlights how much progress BMW has made with the new coupé - rear access is decent and there's room in the back for two adults. The interior is comfortable and well-finished - although the mood lighting (situated just under the door windows) didn't do any favours to the garish red leather trim in our test vehicle.
Should I buy one?
The 325i is out on a limb pricewise - it's considerably more expensive than Audi's 2.0-litre TT, but more practical with it. Equally, it lacks the grunt of Merc's 280 CLK but is over five grand cheaper (and you should be buying a 335i at that money anyway).
It might occupy a lonely area of the market, therefore, but that doesn't make it any less compelling as a proposition. If you can't quite stretch to a 330i, then this will do quite nicely.