What must it be like to always have the weight of expectation bearing down on you? If you want to know, ask an engineer who has worked on the BMW 3 Series. This a car that always has hefty anticipation heaped upon its roof rack, being the brand’s longest-running and most popular model. Indeed, it accounts for nearly a third of BMW's annual sales.
For that reason, BMW's reluctance to stray too far from its successful formula is entirely understandable. Since 1975, the theme of a well-packaged, sporty, rear-wheel-drive saloon remains front and centre of the 3 Series' ethos, and that’s still intact for this seventh-generation model.
However, that doesn’t mean it can’t be added to. These days, you also get the option of four-wheel drive 'xDrive' versions, along with a broad range of petrol and diesel and hybrid engines to suit most tastes and budgets.
But the big questions hanging over the 3 Series are: is it as good, or even better than, its two chief executive adversaries, the Mercedes C Class and Audi A4; and has it reclaimed its ‘sportiest saloon’ crown from the Alfa Romeo Giulia and Jaguar XE?
We'll answer those questions over the next few pages. And if you decide you want to buy a 3 Series, or indeed any other new car, find out how much money we could save you on the brochure price by checking out our latest deals.