BMW's foray into cutting-edge styling with former chief designer Chris Bangle's "flame surfacing" technique was a failure among both critics and consumers. But the very important 3-Series range was thankfully spared the excesses of the make's larger models. For the volume car in the 2010 BMW portfolio, even the recently departed Bangle had to go easy. The sedan is handsome and the coupe is beautiful from nose to tail, with an athletic but graceful stance. Subtle touches of the characteristic "flame surfacing" add interest and flair to the 3-Series, but they are thankfully restrained. It's worth noting that no body panels are shared between the coupe and convertible two-doors and the sedan and station wagon four-door models. The "convertible" model actually uses a retractable hardtop, which folds neatly into the trunk (at the expense of luggage space).
Reviewers are impressed with last year's styling revisions to the BMW 3-Series, which Motor Trend says gives it "a slightly sharper, more muscular appearance." Reviews read by TheCarConnection.com indicate that the minor updates to the BMW 3-Series should enhance the car's visual appeal. For those who need a little more space than the coupe or sedan can offer, Car and Driver declares that the BMW 3-Series "station wagon looks better than ever, and some at BMW believe U.S. sales may pick up soon." Edmunds reviewers note "some of the sedan and wagon's more questionable styling elements have been rectified" with the addition of "a new front fascia that's reminiscent of the sexier coupe and convertible." Car and Driver praises the "friendlier-looking lower air intakes" and points out that "the front lighting units are accentuated with LED turn signals encased in a cool-looking grid."
Inside, the 2010 BMW 3-Series is uber-traditional BMW: purposeful, elegant, and luxurious but restrained. TheCarConnection.com's research suggests that reviewers feel the interior tends toward the conservative side. Edmunds finds it "a tad plain, [with] the emphasis on driver comfort and involvement"-elements that no driving purist can argue against-but says the BMW 3-Series "interiors provide a restrained show of luxury." For the 2010 3-Series, Automobile Magazine raves that the "ergonomics are great," while Motor Trend notes the availability of "new colors and materials" for the interior. The only complaints come from ConsumerGuide, which gripes that the "audio and climate controls are compromised by their low mounting position and some cryptic markings."