Ever since the mid '70s the 3 Series has been at the heart of the BMW range. Whether it's been the executive saloon, family estate car, sporty coupe or prestige drop top, the 3 Series has always been a popular choice. This, the sixth generation model, is no different, featuring a range of engines and body styles, including a new Gran Turismo hatchback. Yes, the coupe and convertible may be badged 4-series, but underneath it all, it’s the same car.

So what is it that makes the 3 such a good choice? Lookswise, the latest version is the most stylish 3 Series ever made, thanks to its narrowed headlamps, trademark twin grille at the front and strong swage line down the side. It’s a far cry from the rather sober, safe looks of previous 3 Series.

The 3 Series has always struggled to match the Audi A4 for interior build quality, but the latest version is as good as it's ever been. Its success is down largely to its simplicity. The clean, clutter-free dash is shaped around the driver, and there's a wide range of seating and steering adjustments to make sure the driver is comfortable. All the functions on the 6.5 inch colour screen are operated via the iDrive system, which is straightforward to use and less complicated than some of its rivals.

The 3 Series has grown over the previous incarnations, which is good news for occupants as there’s more leg room in the back, and even with the sloping roofline head room isn't an issue. The boot is a good shape and a decent size, too.

What makes the 3 Series so special, though, is the way it drives. The pick of the range is the 320d, which is quicker than its rivals. It's refined and smooth, and driven carefully will do over sixty miles per gallon. If you want thrills without opting for the M version, then the twin turbo 335 petrol is well worth considering.

The 3 Series has always been the one that enthusiasts could rely on to provide first-class ride quality served up with stellar handling characteristics, and the latest one is no different. It has the poise and precision that would shame many sports cars. The only downside is the run-flat tyres, which can make the ride a bit more uncomfortable over uneven surfaces.

Thats what we think, but what do some professionals make of it? Watch the video review above to find out.