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BMW 3-series facelift: Test Drive

Date: 04 September 2008   |   Author:

Driving shot
Category: Upper medium
P11D price: £21,475-£35,295
Key rival: Audi A4

BMW has not only significantly improved the 3.0-litre diesel engine on the 3-series, it has also given its most important model what it calls a major facelift.

Rather than just altering the lights and bumpers, the German manufacturer has made changes to the sheet metalwork. The LED tail lights and bootlid are new, as is the bonnet, which features twin creases. However, in isolation only the geekiest of car nerds will instantly spot that this is the facelifted version; the differences in the bumpers and lights only become clearly apparent when it's placed alongside the old model.

Inside, there's a new iDrive system that takes BMW up to and maybe even past the user-friendliness of Mercedes' Comand and Audi's MMI systems for controlling audio, navigation and Bluetooth functions, plus selected other settings. The revamped system is a joy compared to clunky iDrives of old, and it's a shame that only drivers opting for the factory-fit navigation will benefit. The satnav itself is improved, with a hard drive replacing the previous disc-based system. It can store 12GB of music, too - enough for around 150 CDs.

But the best news is...