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The BMW 320d has been as consistent a contender for the title of ‘best car in the real world’ as the industry has made in decades – and the new G20 version has unquestionably raised its game. It’s better in ways that will greatly please long-time 3 Series owners – outright performance and sporting flair, as well as handling precision and driver appeal – but also in others that make it a more complete executive car.

Both practicality and perceived cabin quality have taken big strides, and the car now has electronic driver aids and infotainment features that would be the envy of almost any saloon. It has also advanced on real-world fuel economy and, in becoming a car easily capable of topping 60mpg at one moment and sprinting like a hot hatchback to damned near 150mph the next, sets a dynamic standard matchable by absolutely none of its peers.

BMW’s one-time default-choice exec hits even greater heights

In a segment where new rivals have been given room to emerge and old ones the opportunity to eke out a significant sales lead, this car is clearly the product of a company intent on making the 3 Series the default affordable executive option – for keen drivers, but perhaps even for others too. Right now, it deserves to be considered nothing less.