If the latest raft of BMW SUVs doesn’t appeal, then the traditional family estate arguably looks more appealing than ever
While never the world’s most practical estate, the BMW 3 Series Touring has appealed to buyers for more than 30 years now with its combination of style, space, dynamism and performance. More commodious wagons have been on offer, but none of those have been as good to drive. With a promise of “a noticeable increase in driving pleasure and optimised functionality”, the familiar 3 Series Touring traits are set to carry on in this latest generation.
Now a ‘G21’ model, this 3 Touring will be unveiled to the world later this month at the BMW Group #NEXTGen expo. Compared to the previous F31 Touring, this car is 76mm longer, 16mm wider and 8mm taller; wider tracks and a 41mm extension in the wheelbase should benefit stability, passenger space and handling. As for the important estate numbers, this Touring can carry 500 litres of stuff with the seats up – five more than before – which extends to 1,510 with the 40:20:40 seats folded. The opening rear window’s aperture has grown by 20mm, the load compartment is 112mm wider and the load sill isn’t as high as before. Options on the practicality front include button operated backrest release, anti-slip rails and storage solutions for the luggage compartment cover and boot partition net.
Good, that’s out the way – time to talk engines. The Touring will mirror the 3 Series saloon’s powertrain line up from launch, topped by the 374hp 340ixDrive which, BMW says, “sets out its stall in particularly emphatic fashion thanks to its class-beating driving dynamics”. Buyers will also be offered a 320i, 330i, 318d, 320d and 330d xDrive. A plug-in hybrid will follow in 2020.
There are some interesting chassis tweaks implemented for the Touring; with the 3 Series saloon having been received so well already, BMW will also be keen for the estate to excel dynamically. Indeed, this car is claimed to deliver “exceptionally precise handling and a persuasively comfortable ride… the result of a rigorously driving pleasure-led development process”. Highlights including a reduction in kerbweight, a 25 per cent increase in torsional rigidity and stiffer chassis mountings bode well; the Touring also gets “lift-related dampers”, which are “continuously variable and adjust the damper firmness progressively according to the changing spring travel”. Options include both passive and adaptive M Sport suspension, variable sport steering, M sport brakes and an M Sport differential.
Beyond that it’s standard 3 Series fare, with the usual raft of driving assistance features, trim levels and gearbox choices, plus the latest BMW Operating System 7.0. At present, there are only images and specs available for European market cars; expect the UK equivalents soon and deliveries not long after. With a 318d SE saloon retailing at £32,455, the Touring range will likely kick off around £35k – there’s life in the humble estate just yet!
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