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Engine options, speed, acceleration and refinement

An extensive variety of BMW petrol and diesel engines is on offer in the 3 Series coupe. On the petrol side, there’s a 141bhp 2.0-litre for the base 318i, a 168bhp 2.0 four-pot for the 320i and a 3.0-litre six-cylinder units with 168bhp and 215bhp in the 325i and 330i respectively.

The petrol range is crowned by the 335i, which gets a 302bhp 3.0-litre six-cylinder unit notable for being the first petrol engine in BMW’s modern era to use turbocharging.

The 335i and 335d offer all the firepower you’d ever need

The 335i is a car not to underestimate: 5.3sec to 60mph and a scarcely believable 12.8sec to 100mph. For some perspective, the E46 M3 was just a second quicker to three figures.

The 325i feels far more like a tourer than a sports coupé. It's an accomplished, refined cruiser, but its relatively low torque figure (199lb ft) means that while in-gear acceleration is decent enough, it never seems rapid.

The 330i is, as you’d perhaps expect, the compromise between the 325i and 335i, boasting more usable torque (236lb ft) than the 325i, but not quite the performance levels of the turbocharged 335i.

The four-cylinder 318i feels dated and offers anemic performance, although the 320i fares better, being just about brisk enough for drivers who occasionally require a glug of performance. 

Diesel 3 Series coupes include a four-cylinder 2.0-litre unit with 181bhp in the base 320d, and 3.0-litre six-cylinder units with 201bhp in the 325d, 241bhp in the 330d and 282bhp in the 335d.

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The 335d simply demolishes any acceleration interval below three figures – and doesn’t let up much thereafter. It’ll rev in a very undiesel-like way – a pleasant attribute, but not particularly relevant.

The performance is slightly more muted in the 325d and 330d, but not by much in the latter. The 330d features an astonishingly capable engine – and it’s quiet and economical, too. At idle, it has a muted rumble, which at cruising speeds is inaudible, and at high revs not intrusive.