You’d not be wrong to call it like a BMW, only more so. As ever, BMW has avoided the temptation to go for a luxury feel in either classical vogue like a Mercedes or of a more modern bent, like an Audi.

Instead, the interior design concentrates on proliferating the sense BMW would like you to have that all its cars are strong of limb, clean cut and functional to the last. So what we have here is a pared-back, simple approach to cabin design, long on ergonomic efficiency and short on gimmicks and trivial surprise and delight features.

Nic Cackett

Road tester
The red stripe emblazoned across the dashboard of our Sport-spec test car is likely to be a polariser

The driving position is impeccable and offers a vast range of seat and wheel adjustments. The central display now offers a 6.5in colour screen on which all functions operated by the now world-class iDrive control system are displayed.

Even first-time users will find the system easy to operate, while those familiar with iDrive's ways will find it so intuitive that it can be used almost without conscious effort or thought as to which button to press or direction in which to push the controller wheel.

All the extra space between the wheels has been dedicated to providing those in the back with some much-needed extra room. The front seat package has therefore changed hardly at all, while long journeys in the back are now if not exactly to be savoured, then certainly no longer to dreaded by anyone up to and including averaged-size adults.

Top 5 Compact execs

  • Jaguar's new four cylinder 2.0-litre Ingenium diesel engine comes with either 161bhp or 178bhp outputs

    Jaguar XE

    1
  • BMW 3-series
    The 3-series remains strong in the areas it has always excelled but now it's more rounded than ever

    BMW 3-series

    2
  • Mercedes-Benz C-class
    The C-class shares a lot of its looks with the new S-class, furthering its desirability

    Mercedes-Benz C-class

    3
  • The Audi A4 saloon is bigger, roomier and more aerodynamic than its predecessor

    Audi A4

    4
  • The CC offers a handsome alternative to the staid Passat

    Volkswagen CC

    5

Find an Autocar car review

Driven this week

  • First Drive
    3 July 2015
    Charming four-door city car gets Smart's new six-speed dual-clutch automatic gearbox, in a bid to make the Forfour more versatile
  • First Drive
    2 July 2015
    First UK drive in the latest-generation MX-5 reveals an iconic roadster that's back to its best
  • First Drive
    2 July 2015
    Extra firepower and pared-down kerb weight conjure even greater brilliance from the Boxster's chassis. Pricey – but superb to drive
  • First Drive
    1 July 2015
    There's another BMW 2 Series variant on the horizon; we drive a late-stage prototype plug-in hybrid Active Tourer
  • BMW's prototype fuel cell concept is based on the 5GT
    First Drive
    1 July 2015
    Fuel cell-powered 5 Series GT concept previews a revolutionary storage and refuelling system which could pave the way for hydrogen to become the alternative fuel of choice