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BMW 3 Series Compact (2001-05)

Overall Rating

4 stars

Second generation Compact is a class act. It's just as desirable as its saloon sister, styling and quality are top notch, and its unique rear-drive hatchback layout pleases keen drivers.

  • Sporty hatchback coupe with strong image
  • Refined and responsive with pin-sharp steering
  • Quality cabin and good standard equipment
  • Quite pricey, new and used
  • Rear headroom could be better
  • Extras push up prices rapidly
Road Test

The original Compact seemed a bit of an afterthought a 3-Series with the boot sawn off, that was never ranked equally with other 3's. The current generation completely revises those views. It's a classic sports hatch whose rear-wheel driving characteristics combine with a brilliant chassis and fine engines to produce a car that handles with supreme confidence and is also fun. No Compact is cheap new prices start at around 17,000 and extras hike the bill far higher but the least expensive 316ti is a sound choice if you don't need the 325ti's 7-second 0-60mph acceleration. The 316 has a modern 1.8-litre Valvetronic engine, develops 115bhp, gives 40mpg and offers smooth, flexible power across the rev range. The cabin is efficiently styled, with a good driving position and adequate rear legroom although rear headroom is restricted. And lesser rivals are better equipped; climate control costs nearly 1000 on basic versions.

Need To Know

Best Models: Cheap 316ti and frugal 320td

Worst Models: Pricey 325ti Sport

Replacement: 2005

BMW 3 Series Compact (2001-05)
Star Ratings


4 stars


4 stars

Quality & Reliability

5 stars


4 stars


2 stars

Running Costs

3 stars

Value for Money

3 stars

Stereo/Sat Nav

4 stars
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