Something of an oddity, and slightly underwhelming in terms of performance. But the whole package is well sorted and at this price, there are no obvious rivals.

What is it?

The awesome twin-turbo BMW 335i coupé left us breathless, but it's time to sample the opposite end of the range - the 325i. The entry-level 3-series coupé uses a 2.5-litre straight six producing 215bhp and 184lb ft of torque. Mated to a six-speed manual box, that results in a 0-60mph time of 6.9secs and and top speed of 152mph. BMW claims a combined economy figure of 33.6mpg.

What's it like?

Don't expect 335i performance - but then, you could say that of most cars. The 325i feels far more like a tourer than a sports coupé. It's an accomplished, refined cruiser, but that relatively low torque figure means that while in-gear acceleration is decent enough, it never seems rapid.

The steering is heavy but direct, and the gearchange has a slightly rubbery mechanism but is ultimately slick enough. The handling isn't quite as precise as the 335i but that's down to the lack of uprated sports suspension - and that means the ride is one area where the base model can trump the range-toppers. It's less fidgety.

The rest of the car highlights how much progress BMW has made with the new coupé - rear access is decent and there's room in the back for two adults. The interior is comfortable and well-finished - although the mood lighting (situated just under the door windows) didn't do any favours to the garish red leather trim in our test vehicle.

Should I buy one?

The 325i is out on a limb pricewise - it's considerably more expensive than Audi's 2.0-litre TT, but more practical with it. Equally, it lacks the grunt of Merc's 280 CLK but is over five grand cheaper (and you should be buying a 335i at that money anyway).

It might occupy a lonely area of the market, therefore, but that doesn't make it any less compelling as a proposition. If you can't quite stretch to a 330i, then this will do quite nicely.

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