It is usual to find a massive disparity between what a car manufacturer says a car’s fuel consumption will be and what it actually is, and not just because we tend to drive cars harder than most.

With the 3-series, however, BMW’s claims turn out to be more honest than most. Once more taking the 320d as our example, BMW says it will do 61.4mpg; our own tests driving the car in a gentle but hardly saintly style yielded 56.8mpg.

Matt Saunders

Deputy road test editor
The BMW 320d offers such impressive performance coupled to great fuel economy

More to the point, perhaps, equivalent testing of other cars has shown a marked reluctance to better 50mpg, giving the BMW not only a longer range but dramatically lower long-term running costs.

Expect any 3-series to hold its value well, but should you be minded to buy one secondhand, remember the power is in your hands: such is the popularity of the Three that supply is bountiful, so there’s no need to compromise on spec or price.

There will always be another one to look at and dealers know it. Use this to your advantage.

Top 5 Compact execs

  • 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

    1
  • 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

    2
  • The Audi A4 saloon is bigger, roomier and more aerodynamic than its predecessor

    Audi A4

    3
  • The CC offers a handsome alternative to the staid Passat

    Volkswagen CC

    4
  • Volvo S60
    The Volvo S60 is offered with an impressive new D4 diesel engine

    Volvo S60

    5

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