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

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

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  • Mercedes-Benz C-class
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    3
  • The CC offers a handsome alternative to the staid Passat

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

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