BMW cars review

By Martin Pratt

Article 3 of 24

German prestige car brand BMW makes more than just luxury saloons: it builds hatchbacks and hybrids too. Is it worthy of your attention?

BMW is one of the world's best-known makers of prestige cars, whose models have a reputation for focusing on the driver's enjoyment behind the wheel. 

Its range has expanded dramatically over the years. With a big tradition in coupés, convertibles and sports cars, BMW is increasingly embracing practicality. Its line-up now encompasses the popular VW Golf-sized 1 Series, 4x4 SUVs like the X1, X3 and X5, and even MPVs like the 2 Series Active Tourer. Easily the mainstay of its business, though, are its large saloon and estate cars, such as the 3 Series and 5 Series.

For a prestige brand, BMW claims a relatively low CO2 emissions average, helped by its EfficientDynamics programme, which boosts fuel economy. It's also embraced electric cars with the i3, as well as hybrid models such as the 330e. For years, BMW has chosen to make its car rear-wheel drive to keep its cars dynamically sharp, but it now makes front-wheel drive cars, too, because they free up extra interior space. 

To see how all the BMW cars we've tested scored head straight to our BMW car reviews.

How much do BMW cars cost?

As one of the three main German prestige car makers, alongside Audi and Mercedes-Benz, it's no surprise to find that BMWs are priced to compete at the top end of the mainstream market. 

BMWs are better equipped as standard than they used to be but you're very likely to want to tick a few boxes for optional extras - and BMW has a long list of very tempting ones. Typically the prices for options are on the high side, too. UK customers are particularly drawn to M Sport packages, which make BMWs look and feel sportier - but you need to be aware of the impact this can have on ride comfort.

Choosing the best BMW car

Historically, BMW's most important model has been the 3 Series saloon and Touring estate. Arguably it still represents the heart of the BMW range, with its focus on driving dynamics, comfort, technology and safety. The larger 5 Series offers the same sort of incisive driving experience but with more space and comfort, especially in GT or Touring guise. Meanwhile the X5 is a large 4x4 that offers high levels of driving enjoyment on the road.

As well as coupé models like the 2 Series and 4 Series, niche models have been making big inroads in recent years. So the X4 is effectively a coupe version of the X3, while the Gran Coupé badge in BMW's dictionary means a four-door coupé. Arguably, one of the most appealing BMWs is also its most accessible: the 1 Series, which brings BMW values to the medium hatchback class dominated by the VW Golf.