BMW 3 Series 2012

What we love

  • A highbacked booster at its full height can be fitted into the rear seats
  • ISOFix point in the front passenger seat of the car – if occasionally needed
  • air vents for rear passengers – work independent of front
  • radio speakers can be on in the front but not in the rear

Room for improvement

  • Airbag warning light is not clearly visible to driver
  • Boot access is poor
  • There is no storage space in the rear seat
  • It’s not possible to switch off all the sound alerts so could potentially wake a sleeping baby

Decent sized family car, good for an older family as rear seat leg room is good, but the boot access isn’t ideal for prams and luggage.


Just considering the front storage features to begin with, it has 2 pop out cupholders, which are very James Bond !  and great fun to play with, but you do have to pick your cup carefully as the holder isn’t deep  and can wobble larger drinks bottles. The centre console has a  small open container by the gear stick and an arm rest with small hidden storage bin beneath it, ideal for pens and glasses, but not much else.

The glove box is lockable and fits ipad size devices and the door bins are deep and wide, so great for keeping umbrellas, de-icer etc in.

Sadly in the back there are no cupholders, door bins or storage in the seat backs.

The car has the capacity to hold plenty of  shopping bags comfortably  and a pushchair – but watch your head, the saloon version has a low boot lid and if you don’t bang your head you could catch your hands when you taking prams in and out. And please don’t let small children stand to close when you close it – that’s the voice of experience speaking.

The boot has a false floor which has additional space for hiding stuff.



In the interior of the car – the front centre light on exit and entrance can be overridden by press button next to light,  which is great if you don’t want to startle or wake a sleepy passenger.  The driver and passenger have additional individual map lights.

In the rear there is a central light in the roof of the car, which can be turned off, but there are no lights around the doors.

This model doesn’t benefit from “Guide me home” lights but as you’d expect with BMW you can get it as an extra, so we would recommend you check first.

The Boot is lit when you open it regardless of whether the headlights are on or the whole car is unlocked, which is useful. However, the light is located at the top and in the centre of the boot, which often means you can obscure the light when you’re loading and unloading.


This model doesn’t benefit from key less entry – but does have a push button on the fob which worked from a good distance. Press the lock button twice and it will dead lock the whole car including the boot.

The child locks are easy to work and don’t need a tool or a key to lock and unlock , instead its a simple flip switch h on the door frame, which is hard enough to alter that it couldn’t be done by mistake or by fiddling little fingers.

The boot can be unlocked via the key fob and it partially flips open the boot so you can just simply lift it up with one finger and not have to release a handle.

The boot also can be opened whilst the rest of the car remains locked


The 3 series is kitted out with one of our favourite hidden features in cars- it allows you to keep hold of the “open” lock on the key fob for a number of seconds and all the windows will drop down. This is ideal on a hot day and your returning to the car to allow all the warm air out and start cooling the car down before anyone is even ready to get in!

The windows all open, including the rear ones all the way to the bottom of the frame,  but it also has  a safety stop feature  just in case you choose to raise the window and a back seat passenger has decided to hang their arm (or worse) out.

The rear windows are lockable from the front drivers seat door panel and the driver can also control the front passenger seat window as well. The advantage of this position is that other hands can’t reach the unlock whilst the car is in motion, unlike if they are located on the console between the driver and passenger.

The model we looked at didn’t have any blacked out windows, but again it is an option with BMW so you may be able to it as an additional extra if you shop around.

Noise & Visuals

The BMW 3 series has bells and buzzers for everything!

It bings when you start it up, stop and when doors are opened – on the upgraded version it is possible to turn these off – so make sure you ask and see it work if you think this is going to be a problem for you.

The reversing and front parking sensors fitted on this car are loud and get quicker  the closer you get to the object behind you. Thank goodness though it is possible to turn these off on the dash

On the plus side the car does give a warning sound  and a visual icon on the dash if the door isn’t closed properly or the driver isn’t wearing a seat belt. Again if you wanted it to warn you about other passengers you need to check the cars additional extras as some do and some don’t

The radio has speed dependant volume – getting louder as you increase speed or vibration in the car but this can also be manually overriden.

The airbag warning is only visual and is positioned above the drivers map light pointing downwards, this means it’s so easily missed by the driver and not something we think is good for a family car.


We think this car is designed for the family who would just like to enjoy the view and the driver who likes to listen to the purr the engine! as it had two 12V auxiliary power outlets – one is a cigarette lighter the other is located inside the storage console in the front  centre  and aux in. To be fair though some are kitted with a USB but sadly not this one.

There is no charging facilities  in the rear but the centre arm rest is accessible from rear, so just make sure your charger cable is long enough!


The BMW 3 series has  3 ISOfix seating positions, 2 in the rear and one in the front. The same seating positions are compatible for a seat belted car seat. but the centre seat isn’t wide enough across the lap belt to accommodate any type of restraint – a common issue in smaller family cars.

The 2 tether points are located on the rear parcel shelf and are easily to find, although they don’t have the anchorage logo on them, so many people do wonder what they are for.

The ISOFix points in the front passenger seat may seem like an advantage,  but only if you use a foot support and not a tether , as don’t be fooled by the tether point compatibility – it needs to be attached to the tether (on the parcel shelf, ) so it needs to travel over the rear passenger seat to reach it – which isn’t advisable!

The rear doors open rearly wide, so lifting seats in and out is easy. But the rear ISOFix points are labelled with the IOSFix logo, but are still a little tricky to locate, but once you’ve got the hang of it they lock on easily. The front seat IOSOfix points are a lot more visible and easy to access, but not labelled .


Belt Fitment

Head and leg space is good in this car, so don’t worry about fitting a 5ft 10 adult in the front or rear with car seats in the other seats!

In all three seating positions we could accommodate a rear facing infant carrier comfortably and without too much interference with the other seats in front or behind it.

We managed to get a High backed booster into the rear seat and extend it fully so no need to consider removing the back or using a booster cushion.

Theres no underfloor storage so using a seat with a leg support is an option.  Tethers in the rear  work well as its simple to locate on the rear parcel shelf.  (But please see the comments regarding tethers and front seat in the ISOFix section of this review)



The  vehicle handbook recommends that the airbag is switched off for both rear and forward facing child seats. Interesting it also says that the side air bags are switched off when the front one is deactivated, so could be something to consider if you are using a booster seat and expecting to get side impact protection from the vehicles side airbags.

The switch is simple to alter – but please read our comments about the airbag warning light in the lights section of this review.


Extra Features

The front and rear centre head restraints are not removable but the  handbook suggests the rear outer seat head restraints can be removed,but it isn’t easy to do, because there isn’t enough head space in the saloon model  to lift them completely and the seat backs don’t tip to give you access. So it involves tilting the head restraint forward and lifting at the same time. Our concern would be as to how tricky it would be to replace them for an adult passenger


If you are looking at the second hand market and want a family car, then the BMW 3 series wouldn’t be our first choice, however if you already own one and are wondering if it will accommodate your new arrival or should you splash out on another car? you‘ll be pleasantly surprised.

Always remember that BMW have  a lot of optional extras, so not all cars will have all these features as standard, and we’ve tried to concentrate on those that are the preferred choices of most users.


BMW 3 Series 2012

Decent sized family car, good for an older family as rear seat leg room is good, but the boot access isn’t ideal for prams and luggage.