German automaker fancies itself as the manufacturer of “The Ultimate Driving Machine.” And based on popularity and accessibility, few vehicles in its line-up have clamored for that title than the BMW 3 Series and the BMW 5 Series. Both cars have been leaders in their respective segments for decades, and that makes choosing one over the other more of an informed personal choice. Here are a few factors to inform your buying decision.
Both cars are luxury vehicles. However, the 3 Series is BMW’s compact executive car, while the 5 Series is the company’s mid-size offering. As a result, the 5 Series tends to be larger, which translates into more interior space and increased passenger and cargo capacity. For instance, a 3 Series sedan has a cargo volume of 3.7 cubic centimetres, standard payload of 408 grams, and 102.4 centimetres of front headroom, while the 5 Series sedan has a cargo volume of 4 cubic centimetres, standard payload of 430 g, and 102.9 centimetres of headroom. So, if you treasure more cabin space for passengers, you should go for the 5 Series.
The BMW 3 Series and 5 Series are primarily known as four-door sedans. They are split into two categories: Sedan and the high speed-oriented Gran Turismo, which constitute the most expensive offerings from either model. However, the 3 Series has the advantage of providing a third variant: a sports wagon known as Touring. It is an offering that has more interior space, thus placing itself between the 3 Series and 5 Series sedans. If you seek a middle ground, the 3 Series Touring would make an ideal choice.
Weighing a little over 1,540 g and powered by a 2.0-litre four-cylinder engine that generates up to 176.5 kW, the BMW 3 Series provides a tight, sporty ride. With a manual transmission, the sedan can go from 0 to 100 kilometres per hour in 5.7 seconds; acceleration is 5.8 seconds with a manual gearbox. Fuel economy for the 3 Series is respectable, with a peak fuel economy of 14.88 Km/Lfor the highway. Most 5 Series trims have a larger, 3.0-litre six-cylinder engine that pumps out up to 220.6 kW. Also, the vehicle weighs over 1,720 g. A heavier manufacture and engine, coupled with more horsepower, means that the 5 Series is not as fuel efficient nor sporty as the BMW. Though the heavier body can provide more stability for snowy driving conditions in areas like Chilliwack and Clearbrook, British Columbia. Its 0-100 kph time is 6.1 seconds, and its highway mileage is 14.45 km/L. However, on the other hand, its more powerful engine ensures that the 5 Series provides a more luxurious ride than the 3 Series.
The manufacturer’s suggested retail price of the BMW 3 Series starts at $32,750 USD. The BMW 5 Series starts at an MSRP of $49,700 USD, which is enough to get a top-of-the-line 335i xDrive Grand Turismo. Small wonder that the 3 Series is BMW’s best-selling model; it accounts for around 30 percent of the company’s total sales.
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