Since launching in 1975, the BMW 3 Series has sold more than 15 million cars worldwide. It’s BMW’s best seller by far, and a standard-setter in the ‘compact executive’ car category.
Power, performance, and on-the-road presence make the BMW 3 Series popular with drivers across all age groups. Its range of body shapes gives it wide appeal too. Over the years it’s come in coupe, sedan, estate, convertible, and even hatchback versions. The M3, launched in 1986, packs in more muscle than the standard 3 Series, putting it in the wannabe sportscar league.
If a BMW 3 Series is your dream ride, you’ll need deep pockets. They range from insurance groups 18 to 50 (out of a possible 50), so they’re not the cheapest cars to insure. Some are eye-wateringly expensive, like a 2018 BMW M3 3 litre BiTurbo Competition 4-door, in group 45, which costs upwards of £1,839 to insure per year (and that’s for a low-risk driver!).
The 316d range is generally the most affordable model in the 3 Series family, but even these can cost well over £650 a year to insure.
First, here's a quick insurance groups explainer:
With insurance prices varying so much, we’ve crunched the numbers and found a selection of the cheapest and most expensive 3 series to insure.
Some of the cheapest 3 Series to insure
Some of the most expensive 3 Series to insure
Cars in higher insurance groups usually cost more to insure, and powerful engines make insurance more expensive too. That’s because they are seen as more likely to be in an accident. A 2013 M3 Convertible DCT, with a 4-litre engine, costs a £25,000 to buy, but insurance starts from £1,550 when paid upfront for a year (and with a £700 excess).
A newer 2018 316d SE Touring 2 litre 3 Series with five doors is a far more affordable option, in group 18. It costs around £15,980, with insurance from £720 upwards. You’ll pay a similar amount to insure an older 2013 320d SE 2-door (group 30) – about £750 and up – but with a much cheaper purchase price of around £8,000.
If fuel consumption or carbon emissions are a decision-factor (don't forget about the expanded ULEZ!), it’s worth noting that these aren’t the most efficient cars around, and BMW has not yet developed a fully electric version. There is, however, a plug-in hybrid 330e model. A 2016 330e 2 litre 4-door costs between £11,000 and £17,000, but insurance can cost over £1,000 a year – which might not make up for savings in petrol.
Bottom line? There’s a certain amount of status that comes with a BMW and, love or hate them, the 3 Series maintains its place as an aspirational car across the world. For BMW enthusiasts, it’s a go-to model, but younger or thriftier drivers might find it a stretch too far budget-wise.
If you’re in the market for a BMW 3 Series, you can use Cuvva’s free car insurance group checker to check its insurance group before buying.