Added 26th October, 2018
By Jonathan Crouch
BMW has rarely had to work as hard on a mid-term facelift as was the case with this post-2015-era 3 Series model. The exterior tweaks might be subtle, but they hide the significant engineering changes that were necessary to allow this car to keep pace with rejuvenated premium rivals that by 2015 it was having to compete against.
So this revised model delivered more where more was needed - in areas like power, equipment and technology. And less where less was required - in terms of fuel consumption and emissions. Beyond that, wisely, the winning formula was left largely as it was - which means that if you didn't previously fancy a 3 Series, you still might not be converted by this one. If, on the other hand, you already had it high on your shopping list and come in search of a used mid-sized premium saloon or estate from the 2015-2018 period, its much improved product and efficiency proposition will be more appealing to you than ever. If that's the case, then the class-leading rear-wheel drive handling dynamics will be merely the icing on the cake.
Are there still faults here? You'd have to say that there aren't too many, provided you can afford the premium pricing and you're not looking for copious levels of boot space or rear seat accommodation: both, to be fair, are par for the course in this segment. Beyond that, the only real issues here lie in whether the original owner managed to get the spec of his or her car right. If you find a 3 Series on which too many boxes were ticked, it might be a touch pricey. If on the other hand, you find a more reasonably priced one on which the wrong ones were ticked - for things like the vague 'Variable Sport' steering or the super-stiff non-Adaptive M Sport suspension - then to some extent, those all-important driving dynamics will have been damaged.
The latter issue is one you really want to avoid, given that exemplary handling is still the most compelling argument for this car. In a world where driving can so often be such a mechanical, joyless activity, this BMW remains involving in a way its competitors are struggling to match. In that respect at least, this version remains a benchmark for its period.