Is A BMW 3 Series A Good First Car?

The BMW 3 Series is a luxury compact sports sedan that was first produced in 1975.  The 3 Series comes in both 2.0-liter inline 4-cylinder and 3.0-liter inline 6-cylinder engines.

This article will dive into whether the BMW 3 Series is a good first car, this includes looking at the pros and cons of owning this car as a new driver.

Is A BMW 3 Series A Good First Car?

The BMW 3 Series can be a good first car for people looking for a sport’s compact vehicle.  If the entry price point isn’t too steep, you don’t mind using premium gasoline, and aren’t looking for a manual transmission, the 3 Series could be a great option for a first car.

Cons Of Driving A BMW 3 Series As A First Car

BMW’s in general are popular vehicles, and the 3 Series is one of their most popular sedans.  That being said, the 3 Series may not be the best option for everyone as a first car.

Below are some of the risks and downsides to owning the 3 Series as a first car:

Limited Space

The BMW 3 Series is a compact sports car thus it is a smaller car.  Accordingly, for individuals who are not of normal size, the 3 Series could be a little tight and uncomfortable.

Also, if you are someone who needs more space in a vehicle to haul larger items regularly, you may want to consider a larger sedan, a crossover, or an SUV.

Lack Of A Manual Transmission In Most Models

If you prefer a manual transmission, then a BMW 3 series may not be the car for you.  The 3 Series used to come with a manual transmission option, however, this feature was dropped in the United States with the seventh generation for most models.

The only 3 Series model that continues to have an option for a manual transmission is the M3 which is probably out of the price point for many new drivers.

Expensive Depending On The Options

The BMW 3 Series starts at approximately $41,000 for the 330i model on the low end and goes up to $69,000 on the high end with the M3 model.

Even if it is assumed that a new driver would go for the lowest priced 3 Series model, many options come at an additional cost which can quickly skyrocket the entry price on this car. 

Many of the coveted options on most vehicles today such as heated seats, remote start, keyless entry, and parking/driving assistance are an additional cost on this car.  Thus, unless you don’t plan to add any options, this car can quickly become too expensive for many people as a first car.

Safety In The Event Of An Accident

Since compact cars are smaller in size, there is less vehicle to protect newer drivers if they happen to be in an accident.  One of the downsides to driving a small car is that the driver can suffer more serve injuries if an accident occurs.

Cost Of Maintenance

Just as obtaining a BMW 3 Series can be pricey so can the maintenance.  BMWs are German vehicles and as such, they are more expensive to maintain than American vehicles. 

This is usually because the parts are more expensive, and the design of German cars makes them more difficult to work on so labor is more costly as well.

Premium Gas Requirement

A downside for some people with the 3 Series is that all the models require premium gasoline. 

This may not be a dealbreaker for everyone, but premium gas comes at a higher cost that may be too much for some newer drivers with a strict budget.


When considering a first car, reliability is important.  Although BMWs are popular fun cars to drive, they aren’t known for their long-term reliability.

Thus, if you plan to keep your first car long-term, you may want to research the long-term issues for the 3 Series to determine if that is a risk you are prepared to take.

Pros Of Driving A BMW 3 Series As A First Car

There are downsides to owning any vehicle as a first car, but there are also many pros to most vehicles as well. 

Below are the following benefits of driving a BMW 3 series as a first car:

All-Wheel Drive Option

The 3 Series has options for xDrive which is their naming for all-wheel drive.  The 330i, 330e, M340i, and the M3 all have xDrive options. 

This is significant for individuals who live in areas where inclement weather is more common.  A lot of cars these days don’t have the option for all-wheel drive so if you are looking for an AWD vehicle the 3 Series is a good option to consider.

Sporty Driving Style

For individuals who enjoy a sporty driving style with excellent handling BMWs are a fun car to own.

While 6-cylinder and 8-cylinder engine production is beginning to be phased out by many auto manufacturers, BMW still offers these engine options in certain models.

If you are in the market for a vehicle that still has sporty attributes and power output, BMW also offers many of their vehicles with twin-turbo 4-cylinder engines that have the same power output as many 6-cylinder engines of the early 2000s. 

Gas Mileage

Fuel efficiency is something that is an important consideration for many people especially those with longer commutes or just those who don’t want to be at the gas station every other day.

Although the BMW 3 Series takes premium gas, it gets good gas mileage. 

See below for the MPG for each 3 Series model:

ModelGas Mileage (MPG)
330i26 city / 36 highway
330i xDrive25 city / 34 highway
330e28 city / 28 highway
330e xDrive25 city / 25 highway
M340i23 city / 32 highway
M340i xDrive23 city / 32 highway
M316 city / 23 highway

Ease Of Parking

One benefit of having a smaller car is the ease of parking.  Oftentimes, new drivers have a learning curve when it comes to parking a car.  This is especially the case for those who live in densely populated areas who need to parallel park on a regular basis. 

Electric Hybrid Option/Tax incentives

As environmental concerns become more important, some new drivers may want to drive a car that does less damage to the environment. 

The fact that the 3 Series has a hybrid option is a great plus for those who want a sporty powerful car to drive, but also want to be environmentally conscious.

Another plus to driving an electric or hybrid vehicle is that there is a federal tax credit of up to $7,500.  The amount of the credit you would receive is determined by the size of the battery in your vehicle as well as how much you owe on your individual taxes for a given year.

Apple Car Play & Android Auto

Technology has become more integrated into vehicles over the years and many people are looking for certain connectivity options. 

The BMW 3 Series comes with Apple CarPlay as well as Android Auto which could be especially important for younger drivers who want to be able to access their phone’s features while driving.

Safety Features

Safety is important for any driver but is especially important for newer drivers who are looking for their first vehicle.

Below are some of the key safety features that the 3 Series offers:

  • Traction control
  • Blind spot monitoring
  • Lane departure warnings
  • Lane keeping assist
  • Electronic stability control
  • Traction control
  • Auto leveling headlights
  • 4-wheel anti-lock braking system
  • Rear view camera
  • Collision warning system

Final Thoughts

The BMW 3 Series can be a wonderful choice for a first car, but this depends on what the person is looking for in their vehicle.  The biggest downsides with the 3 Series are the entry cost, maintenance cost, and potential long-term reliability problems.  However, if you have a larger budget and don’t plan on keeping your first car long-term, then the BMW 3 Series could be the perfect first car!

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