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The top 10 BMW 3 Series alternatives

The BMW 3 Series is a yardstick for other saloons to match.

It gets nearly everything right – it's fun to drive, easy to own and just about practical enough for most drivers.

That doesn't mean it's the right choice for you, however. Especially when there's a legion of talented rivals waiting to take a slice of its pie. Here are our 10 favourite BMW 3 Series alternatives, all with great savings available if you buy them as used cars from Motorpoint.

Mercedes C-Class

Mercedes C-Class in black

Better than a 3 Series for: luxury

Where there's a BMW model, there's usually a Mercedes and an Audi to directly compete with it. For the former, the C-Class wades into battle against the 3 Series. Try them side-by-side and the Mercedes obviously lacks the BMW's sporty driver appeal, but there's still something about its composure, balance and effortless performance that means it's very satisfying to drive. Focus less on the feel through the steering wheel, and you'll find time to appreciate the C-Class's luxurious appointments, with leather and metal details throughout the cabin.

Shop used Mercedes C-Class cars or read our Mercedes C-Class review

Audi A4

Audi A4 in blue

Better than a 3 Series for: comfort

Completing the premium German trio is the Audi A4. This sharp-looking saloon strikes a balance between the sporty 3 Series and the more comfort-focused C-Class, channeling an identity that's both athletic and composed depending on how hard you drive the car. We reckon Audi's still one notch ahead of BMW when it comes to the infotainment interface – both cars have very similar suites of on-board technology but the graphics used in the Audi are clearer and less fussy, making them easier to read at a glance, especially in low-light conditions.

Browse used Audi A4 cars or read our Audi A4 review

Volkswagen Passat

Volkswagen Passat in grey

Better than a 3 Series for: practicality

The 3 Series has a posh badge on its bonnet but, if you're willing to sacrifice some brand cache, you can afford a lot more car for your money. Volkswagen still enjoys quite a smart image and the latest Passat cuts a sharp form thanks to its long-roofed estate-only bodystyle. You'll find all the same on-board tech in the Passat as the 3 Series, so you won't get bored on long drives, and there's even more passenger and cargo space, making the Passat easy to live with if you have a dog or a pushchair to haul around.

Search used Volkswagen Passat cars or read our Volkswagen Passat review

Tesla Model 3

Tesla Model 3 in red

Better than a 3 Series for: EV driving

The 3 Series was perhaps the key car in the sights of the Tesla Model 3 when it launched. This groundbreaking EV was one of the very first to offer a long driving range, electrifying performance and bags of on-board technology all in one relatively affordable package. Most models can return more than 300 miles on a full charge and all versions will show a hot hatch a clean pair of wheels in a drag race. The recent 'Highland' upgrade improved refinement and ride comfort, while squeezing even more range from the battery pack.

Check out used Tesla Model 3 cars

Citroen C5 X

Citroen C5 X in grey

Better than a 3 Series for: concept-car looks

A Citroen instead of a BMW?! Yes – that might sound like a strange pill to swallow but just take a moment to appreciate the C5 X. This high-riding estate has ultra-modern styling and a generous equipment list, all for a price that handily undercuts the BMW. What's more, there's more passenger space than the 3 Series and an even larger boot, making the big Citroen super-easy to live with. It can't quite replicate the BMW's near-faultless driving experience, but it has all the cosseting comfort you'd want from a big French cruiser.

View used Citroen C5 X cars or read our Citroen C5 X review

BMW 4 Series

BMW 4 Series in black

Better than a 3 Series for: drama

You might quite like the way the 3 Series goes about its business, but perhaps it doesn't excite your senses as much as you'd hope. In this case, a cynic might dismiss the 4 Series as simply a 3 Series with the rear doors removed, but it's quite a bit more than that. The driving position is lowered and moved back, which makes the whole thing feel much sportier, enhancing the already athletic driving experience further. Plus, there's still just enough space in the back for adults, even if access is a little trickier thanks to ditching the rear doors.

Take a look at used BMW 4 Series cars or read our BMW 4 Series review

Alfa Romeo Giulia

Alfa Romeo Giulia in red

Better than a 3 Series for: driving fun

If a saloon's going to compete with the 3 Series' driving experience, it needs to feel pretty special. That's a testament to how refreshingly exciting the Alfa Romeo Giulia feels behind the wheel. This compact saloon has a level of deftness and agility you might expect to find in a serious sports car, while including all the premium features and on-board tech you'd expect in this segment. It's a little long in the tooth now and the rear seats aren't as spacious as the 3 Series, but prices on the used market are getting ever more tempting.

Find used Alfa Romeo Giulia cars or read our Alfa Romeo Giulia review

Skoda Superb

Skoda Superb Estate in beige

Better than a 3 Series for: value

The Skoda Superb is one of our all-time favourite cars. It uses the same platform as the Passat, which means you get a simply massive cabin with enough passenger space to embarrass some limousines. You can choose the handsome saloon version, which has a big boot, or the estate model, which has a load space so vast that it can compete with some medieval cathedrals. It's also cosseting and soft on the road, smoothing out the worst imperfections while maintaining faultless body control.

Browse used Skoda Superb cars or read our Skoda Superb review

Lexus ES

Lexus ES in grey

Better than a 3 Series for: hybrid driving

On paper, the Lexus ES might be a more natural rival for the 3 Series' bigger brother, the BMW 5 Series. However, thanks to tempting used prices, ES models on the preowned market fall in the same ballpark as the smaller 3 Series. And you're getting a lot of car for the money. The ES has luxurious materials, dramatic styling and the full suite of on-board kit you'd expect at this price point. It also has legendary Toyota-developed hybrid tech, which gives you zippy electric response in stop-start traffic, plus long-range driving thanks to its petrol engine partner.

Search used Lexus ES cars for sale

BMW X1

BMW X1 (iX1) in grey

Better than a 3 Series for: SUV bodystyle

SUVs have stolen some of the limelight from saloons like the 3 Series, so why not jump aboard the same hype train? Take the BMW X1, for example, which has a similar amount of passenger space as the 3 Series saloon, but a huge boot that stretches all the way to the roof – ideal if you're carrying bulky or tall objects. There are extra virtues to the SUV bodystyle, too – you get a commanding view of the road ahead thanks to the raised driving position, and its footprint is actually a little smaller than the 3 Series, making it a fraction easier to park.

Shop used BMW X1 cars or read out BMW X1 review

Save money on a slick saloon car

Find thousands of pounds worth of savings by choosing a great-value used car from Motorpoint. For more tempting options, check out our picks for the best cars for motorway driving.