We already loved the BMW 3 Series, and the latest facelift (on the saloon and Touring estate models) has done nothing to change our minds. The sharp-edged styling won't be to everyone's taste - although we think it looks better than before - but beneath it lies the most complete compact executive that we've yet seen. The interior shares many design cues with the 5 Series and 7 Series, as well as high-quality materials and clean, modern design. Range-topping versions come with BMW's familiar iDrive controller for various stereo and satnav functions - and it's much improved on this model - but cheaper versions make do with (still easier to understand) buttons. Plenty of adjustment makes for a very comfortable driving position, and there's plenty of room in the back for passengers and luggage, even if the Three falls a little shy of the Audi A4 in both respects.

Driving dynamics are still the Three's greatest asset - on both the saloon and Touring models - and sensibly the company hasn't tinkered with them as part of the facelift. BMW's trademark 50:50 weight distribution and rear-wheel drive ensure than even the most basic versions corner and steer with a precision that rivals just can't match. A well-damped ride and excellent noise insulation mean that high-speed motorway cruising is accomplished just as easily, although one of the few complaints is that the ride can occasionally seem a little too firm. Even with run-flat tyres, the refinement levels stay high, though.

The current base 318i actually has a 2.0-litre engine, but it spins smoothly and gives decent performance if you work it hard. Six-cylinder power is still available in the 325i, 330i and 335i, with all providing strong acceleration and effortless high-speed cruising. The 330d gives astonishing performance, but the quiet, responsive and ultra-frugal 320d diesel is where the smart money goes - certainly for anyone covering higher mileages.

What's to like

1. Superb handling
2. Motorway refinement
3. Brilliant 320d diesel engine

What's not to like

1. Very expensive options
2. Aggressive image
3. Ride can occasionally be too firm