$8,462 - $14,427

2012 BMW 3-Series Interior Review

Note: This interior review was created when the 2012 BMW 3-Series was new.


Interior: 7.6

The 2012 BMW 3-Series sedan is the only model in the lineup that received an overhauled interior for 2012. Most reviewers like the center stack’s clean layout and the comfortable seats, but one says there is just too much going on to make the design feel unified. Test drivers like the increased back-seat space in the sedan, as well as the larger trunk, both of which are a result of BMW making the car longer and wider.

  • "Beyond the classic driving-dynamic attributes, the new 3-series offers a whole Christmas catalog of comfort, convenience, safety, entertainment, and connectivity functions." -- Car and Driver (sedan)
  • "Classic analog gauges, sensible ergonomics and a restrained overall aesthetic combine to create a pleasant driving environment." -- Edmunds (sedan)
  • "The interior, likewise, feels overworked. The center console itself is made up of three polygons mashed together crazy-quilt-style and at three different altitudes: the iDrive controller sits highest, the shifter sprouts from a slightly lower level, and the parking brake tucks in below both in a hollow in front of the armrest (BMW calls the whole assembly a ‘deliberately asymmetric centre tunnel’). And while we're rather keen on the clean, horizontal lines of the center stack and the large iDrive monitor, there are simply too many trims and panels and planes in too many materials to feel like a cohesive interior design." -- AutoWeek (sedan)


BMW made the 2012 3-Series sedan slightly longer and wider, which increases back-seat legroom. Reviewers like the added room and think the seats are comfortable. One test driver is disappointed with the base high-end vinyl seats and thinks that for an upscale midsize car, leather should be standard.

The 3-Series coupe and convertible models have tight back-seat accommodations, but reviewers are fine with the lack of space because they say rivals offer less.

  • "Still, the extra size is more easily felt than seen, with rear passengers benefiting from an extra half-inch of knee room, while all passengers enjoy more headroom." -- AutoWeek (sedan)
  • "The standard vinyl trim is attractive, but the fact that it is vinyl seems like a cheapskate move at this car's price level. The available leather trim is notably richer." -- Consumer Guide (sedan)
  • "The 3 Series' backseat is one of the more spacious in the entry-level luxury segment, regardless of whether you're looking at the sedan, coupe, convertible or wagon." -- Edmunds
  • "In front and in back, the car feels roomier." -- Motor Trend (sedan)

Interior Features

The new 3-Series sedan gets mostly rave reviews for its interior technology and material quality. Auto critics like the interior’s clean design, the well-built cabin and iDrive system, which uses a single dial to control the 3-Series’ electronics, from the navigation to the climate controls. One reviewer says the 3-Series’ iDrive is easy to use and better than similar systems in most rivals. On the other hand, some test drivers think the 3-Series has tech gadgets that are unnecessary, like the 360-degree camera view, which they say doesn’t make sense on a smaller car.

  • "The clean, new dash looks less massive, thanks to a slim, permanently affixed standard iDrive display, and an available full-color head-up display projects navigation, speed, and speed-limit info right out in the driver's field of view." -- Motor Trend (sedan)
  • "The iDrive electronics interface that comes with the optional navigation system is intuitive and one of the best interfaces of its kind." -- Edmunds (sedan)
  • "Most cabin materials have a sturdy, soft-touch feel." -- Consumer Guide (sedan)
  • "Our test car also came stuffed to the gills with optional equipment, much of which we could do without. The full-color head-up display works well and can be nicely configured to show whatever info you want. The optional Surround View, however, is of less use. Getting a 360-degree view of your surroundings might be helpful when reversing, but seeing the sides of your car when it's just sitting still feels gimmicky, at best. The lane-departure-warning system gets seriously annoying after a while, but the trick trunk opener is seriously cool. Just kick a foot under the rear bumper and the trunk pops open. Sheer brilliance--and it's standard on all 3-series." -- AutoWeek (sedan)


The BMW 3-Series sedan has 13 cubic feet of cargo space, while the coupe offers 11 cubic feet. The convertible has a very small trunk to begin with, and nearly no storage space when the top is down. Reviewers like that the redesigned 3-Series sedan has a larger trunk and a versatile folding back seat, as well as the high-tech motion-activated trunk opener. With a kick of the foot under the back bumper, the trunk will open.

  • "The rear-seat backrest now splits in 40-20-40 sections for utmost freight-versus-passenger flexibility. The 13-cubic-foot trunk not only provides one more cubic foot of volume than before, there's also a handy bin under a hinged floor panel for stashing items out of sight. An option the More Generation will surely love is a hands-free, non-contact means of unlatching and opening the trunk with a simple fore-and-aft kick under the rear bumper." -- Car and Driver (sedan)
  • "The convertible's meager top-up trunk space shrinks to minuscule with the top down. There's just enough room for a single small suitcase with the top retracted, though a standard split-folding rear seat back is helpful. The coupe's small aperture won't swallow large packages, but its standard split folding rear seat backs expand space. Interior bins and pockets are too few and too small to be really useful." -- Consumer Guide (coupe and convertible)

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