The Look 

The Drive

On Board Computer

Camera & Parking

Seats & Rear Bench 

Cup Holders & Cubby Holes

Boot

Safety (Euro NCAP) 

Luxurious and well thought out cabin design

Starting price: £41,530

Pros

Great infotainment system

Comfortable and easy drive

Great cabin design

Cons

Disappointing boot space

Low MPG if just driving on petrol

Intro

A great car with well thought out cabin design.

The hybrid is just as engaging as the petrol and diesel touring models.  The car has a subtle and stylish exterior and is a great size if you are not looking for an estate as large as the BMW 5 series.  Rivals include the Volvo V60, Skoda Superb Estate and Mercedes E300.

The drive was responsive and the car effortlessly pulled on to the larger roads with a bit of umph!  The power was certainly there if you needed it.  If you like a car geeky stat then the hybrid hits 0-62 mph in 5.9 seconds.  Not really enough time for Claire to take a sip of her morning coffee or even a nibble on a croissant! 

Parking was simple and the BMW 3 series is slightly shorter than her competitors such as the  VW Passat and the Volvo V60.

The technology works out the best driving mode for you, but you can override the battery reserve at a touch of a button.  So the electric range is up to 37 miles, but if you were wanted to keep, for example,  30% (11 miles) in reserve for when you came off an A road on to a country lane then this works a treat.  You can then quietly pootle along.  The car itself is capable of doing a combined petrol /electric distance of around 370 miles. 

Visually the view of the road ahead was very good, however there was a bit of a blind spot when looking through the rear mirror which was basically down to cabin design.  That said with a combination of good wing mirrors, sensors and parking cameras you would have to be super unlucky to knock into anything. 

Interior

All the controls, gearstick, whistles and bells were at our finger tips and there was no need to stretch or take ones eyes off the rolling road.

I do like a rotary control!  This car,… drum roll, not only has a brilliant responsive touch screen, but also a rotary control.  Happy customers all round! 

The satnav responds to voice commands which when you are running late and desperately trying to key in a postcode, with fat fingers, is a total godsend.

The climate control was spot on and we know from long drives, that we generally get hot in the front whilst the snoozing children get cold, so it’s great to have the ability to warm / cool different zones. The controls are buttons which again tend to be easier to navigate whilst driving safely.

Seats & Passenger Space

The front seats were really comfortable and felt a bit sporty too. It was good to hear that the vernasca leather is standard.  So much better than fabric seats, and more forgiving of everyday life, especially if you throw small children into the mix.

From the seated position we loved the fact that the design, with all its technology, almost wrapped itself around the driver (me!).

BMW has increased the width of the rear bench and state that it can now fit 3 child seats.  We were unable to try this out at the time of the test drive.  However, there are only 2 isofix points.  These are well positioned and easy to fix a car seat in place. We also noted that the car doors had a good opening (less chance of banging your head when desperately trying to quickly strap a child in!).  There is good headroom, but to be honest other than a quick trot around the block you would only comfortably seat 2 adults or large teens.  The transmission tunnel is really high and therefore there is nowhere for the middle passenger to comfortably put their feet.

Cups & Cubby

On the practical side the coffee / bottle holders were ideally placed forward on the console rather than annoyingly parallel to an elbow plus the door bins / glove box provided good storage space too.

In the rear the pulldown armrest had two good sized bottle holders plus there was practical space in the door bins and netted seat pockets (ideal to hold an ipad and some bits and bobs on a long journey).  There are 2 well positioned USB points and another positive was that the windows, if required, were able to go all the way down.

Boot Space

The boot size, due to the battery, is 410 litres which is 90 litres less than the petrol / diesel 3 series touring.  It is also smaller than rivals such as the VW Passat at 483 litres and the Mercedes C300e at 480 litres.  Unlike its competitors the Touring does have a nifty opening of the upper window on the boot door.  Great when you just want to grab something from the top of your shopping or luggage as opposed to opening the full door. 

There is the option to upgrade to have the under bumper ‘foot waving’ sensor which allows you to open and close automatically – perfect when overloaded with shopping or balancing a child on your hip. We liked the metal scuff plate which protects the boot when dragging out heavier items such as a pram and also the ability to pull a net up to stop any overloaded items being able to move or fall out of the boot onto the rear passengers.  If you have dogs, then due the raised boot floor, it is only really ideal for smaller breeds.  I think our Labrador might be a bit miffed with this space! 

Summary

Overall this is a well thought out smaller estate car and if you can live with a slightly smaller boot space then this is a good choice.  There are lots of technical upgrades you can have from key sensors to a drive recorder….. ‘a drive recorder?’ you ask….. well its basically like an aeroplane black box.  Hmmm not sure that that is really high on our agenda for now.  Oh and with Claire now being the proud owner of a caravan we learnt that a towbar additional would be further and slightly eye watering £850.

Boot Capacity - Kate and Claire

Boot Capacity

410 Litres

Car Dimensions - Kate and Claire

Dimensions

4709mm (L) x 1827mm (W) x 1440 mm (H)

Miles per Gallon - Kate and Claire

Miles per gallon

28 MPG Petrol, 37 MPC, 40-45 (MPG) Avg Combined 

Range - Kate and Claire

Range

N/A

Speedometer - Kate and Claire

Speed

0-62mph in 5.9 seconds (entry level)