BMW 3 Series front grille
Ryan Darby

Ryan Darby

Ryan takes the lead on all things 'wordy'. With a sports media background, a true passion for cars, and a LOT of driving experience under his belt, he'll make sure you have all the information you need, when you need it.

Is the BMW 3 Series better than an Audi A4 or the Mercedes C-Class? 

Fun to drive, practical and beautifully designed. Does the BMW 3 Series live up to its reputation as one of, if not, the best premium saloon car on the market?

Rivals such as the Audi A4 and the Mercedes C-Class both get a seat at the table alongside the BMW 3 Series, and all have proven to be extremely popular options for motorists shopping in the Saloon market. 

The BMW 3 Series has incredible longevity and is currently the German manufacturer’s longest-running model, which speaks volumes about its quality. 

Interested in a BMW lease? Continue reading to find out why we think it is so special.

Who is it up against?

For anyone considering a BMW 3 Series lease deal, there’s a good chance you may have also looked at the aforementioned Audi A4 and Mercedes C-Class. The duo are often heralded as BMW’s biggest rivals, but the Jaguar XE and the Alfa Romeo Giulia are also worthy contenders at the top end of the saloon market.

Engine options in the BMW 3 Series

There are a wide range of options to choose from to find the perfect model for you. The 3 Series range includes, SE, Sport, M Sport and M Sport Pro Edition variants.

The extensive list of options doesn’t stop there. Depending on the model you choose, you have a choice of 17 engines... yes 17... to pick from; including petrol, diesel and plug-in hybrid variants.

If a hybrid lease is what you're interested in, the BMW 330e Plug-in Hybrid can offer a pure electric range of up to 36 miles and a combined mile range of up to 372.

If fuel efficiency is a priority for you, the M Sport and Sport models benefit from a slightly larger fuel tank than some of its peers, at 59 litres.

When it comes to mpg, there is not much to split the BMW 3 Series with the Audi A4, who are both capable of up to 60.1mpg on select models. However, they do both outperform the Mercedes C-Class, which falls below the 60mpg mark.

BMW 3 Series rear view

What makes the BMW 3 Series so good?

Finding the right balance between a driving experience and practicality in a Saloon car is by no means an easy task and it can be here that many manufacturers fall by the wayside, leaning too strongly to one or the other.

BMW have struck a lovely balance, producing a true driver’s car that can do the best of both worlds. It can be the executive car you need it to be or it can be transformed into a modern and well-equipped practical family vehicle.

The latest edition of the BMW 3 Series is refined. It promises sportier handling and improved suspension in a car that weighs nearly 60kg less than its previous edition.

Meanwhile, the Intelligent Personal Assistant, which comes as standard on M Sport and M Sport Pro Edition models remembers and learns your driving behaviours, further enhancing the driving experience on offer.

The design of the BMW 3 Series has a rugged and angled finish and it gives the car real character. You get the fierce and muscly look with some neat detailing throughout.

The famous Kidney Grille you get on the front of the car will change slightly if you go for the top-of-the-range M Model. They all look brilliant visually and aid the car’s balance and driving performance with class-leading aerodynamics, according to BMW. The Active Air system means the air valve inside the grille will remain closed unless the engine overheats - a brilliant combination of beautiful design and efficient driving.

The cabin has a timeless design, as we have come to expect from BMW cars over the years. It is simple and easy to use and we say that in the most endearing way possible - it is part of what makes it such an appealing drive for motorists.

For the more traditional driver, the system also comes with the iDrive rotary dial and shortcut buttons for easier usage while on the move.

BMW 3 Series driving on the road

Practicality matches performance

The boot space on offer in the BMW 3 Series is competitive and you benefit from a large opening. Depending on the model you choose, you get up to 485L of space. The latter matches the Audi A4 in terms of practicality and trumps the Mercedes C-Class. However, you do lose some luggage space if you choose the Plug-in Hybrid edition, as the 330e and the 330xDrive variants have just 375L of luggage space.  

On the inside, the space on offer in the rear seats is reasonable, even for the taller passengers, who will have ample leg and head room. Wider rear seats and large door openings mean that you don’t lose any comfort when travelling with three in the back or child seats.  

One of the safest Saloons on the road

Designed to fit family life, the BMW 3 Series has a wealth of features that will keep you safe on the road. The BMW 3 Series boasts a five-star NCAP rating, where it was also given the ‘best ever result’ for adult occupant protection from any “large family car” at the time of testing.

The BMW 3 Series recorded a 'near perfect' safety rating of 97 per cent for adult occupants, five per cent higher than the Mercedes C-Class and eight per cent higher than the Audi A4.

Front collision warning with brake intervention, Lane Departure Warning and access to BMW’s Emergency Call service all come as standard throughout the range.

Drivers also enjoy the Parking Assistant as standard, which helps you locate nearby spaces and makes parking in them a doddle with rear-view cameras too.

Upgrade to the Parking Assistant Plus and you get Remote 3D View and Surround View which provides an incredible picture of your immediate surroundings from all angles to further aid your parking ability.

BMW 3 Series Saloon driving along road

Competitively priced

The close battle between the Audi A4 and the BMW 3 Series continues when you look at the pricing of the pair. Depending on your preference of model and engine choice, the prices can start from £32,000 and rise to £50,000 for range-topping performance in the M Models or as much as £74,000 for the powerful M3 Competition model.

There is not much to split between Audi A4 and 3 Series for entry level models, while the Mercedes C-Class comes in as the slightly more expensive option.

A BMW lease deal is a fantastic option for those looking to get behind this impressive Saloon for a fraction of the cost. 

Why is the BMW 3 Series Saloon so good?

  • Combines driving experience with practicality
  • Class-leading infotainment system
  • Competitive storage space
  • Good running costs
  • Luxurious but rugged design

What isn’t so nice about the BMW 3 Series?

One of the common complaints put towards the BMW 3 Series is the drivers’ display. It is perhaps one of the key areas where BMW falls behind the Mercedes C-Class and the Audi A4. To get the fully digital drivers’ display, you will need to opt for the M Sport model, rather than a partially digital one available in other models.

If you want to experience the BMW 3 Series at its absolute best, you may need to utilise its outrageous number of optional extras. From an added Technology Package to an extra Comfort Package, you could quickly get bogged down in a wide variety of additional extras. As good as this car is as standard, this is perhaps somewhere rival manufacturers could take advantage.

BMW 3 Series M wheels


We are seriously impressed with the BMW 3 Series, it ticks nearly every box you can think of when looking in the Saloon market.

Some minor nuisances could make this car even better, like the drivers’ display that we touched on earlier, but while it falls behind rivals in just a few areas, it thrives and exceeds expectations in many others.

At a time where Mercedes-Benz are launching a brand-new C-Class into the Saloon market, competition is strong. However, the BMW 3 Series is fierce, it is stylish and most importantly, it has adjusted brilliantly with the modern demands of a Saloon car.

This makes it a very stronger contender for anyone considering a practical Saloon that doesn’t compromise on top end performance.

If you would like more information about our personal BMW lease deals and business contract hire offers, please contact a member of our team, who would be more than happy to help.