Is the new BMW 3 Series Touring estate as good as the excellent saloon? We drive it in 320d xDrive M Sport spec in the UK to find out…
The latest BMW 3 Series took class honours at the 2019 Auto Express New Car Awards. Our top compact executive car is not only comfortable, refined and cheap to run, it’s also filled with segment-leading in-car tech.
But if there was one area where the BMW fell short, it was practicality. It’s no smaller than its rivals inside or out, but the 3’s traditional three-box shape limits what you can carry and harms outright versatility. Until now, that is – as BMW has just launched the all-new 3 Series Touring.
• BMW 330d Touring review
The new Touring model is no longer than the saloon overall, but the sloping roofline has been switched out to reveal a much bigger and more practical load bay. The numbers are deceptive, however: the wagon’s 500-litre boot is measured only to the bottom of the window line – fill it to the roof and the estate is the far more usable of the two.
Fold down the rear seats and you’ll reveal a 1,510-litre load bay, which is more than big enough for a full-size road bike or a Saturday afternoon trip to the tip. BMW claims the boot opening is 112mm wider than before, and like its predecessor, owners can choose to open the tailgate glass independently of the main bootlid, which is particularly useful in tight car parks.
Other handy features include a dedicated under-floor storage compartment for the removable parcel shelf, and a set of optional anti-slip rails that stop your shopping sliding around. All-in, it’s a cleverly designed car that should make living with a 3 Series Touring easier than ever.
Space in the rear seats is improved, too; not only is the Touring roomier than the saloon, but it offers a marked leap over its predecessor as well. The longer roofline means there’s more headroom, while kneeroom is well catered for, too. BMW claims you can get three child seats across the back – though only the two outer chairs get ISOFIX points.
Quality is excellent throughout, and it’s easy to find a comfortable driving position thanks to the myriad ways to adjust your seat. It’s a shame BMW doesn’t offer Android Auto, but the standard iDrive operating system is so complex yet easy to use, we reckon few customers will truly resent it.
There’s little compromise when it comes to the driving experience, either. We tried both the big-selling 320d as well as the four-cylinder petrol-powered 330i – and it’s the former that remains our pick of the range. It’s agile, punchy and super refined; the fact it’ll nudge 50mpg in mixed motoring is simply the icing on the cake.
In all honesty, you’d struggle to pick the saloon and estate apart in normal driving. The Touring is perhaps slightly noisier due to that open rear-end, but this is still an extremely comfortable and quiet car to travel long distances in.
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The ride is on the stiff side, but find a windy road and the 3 Series displays a level of nimbleness unrivalled in this class; the steering is weighty and body control is excellent – even on passive dampers. Our model’s xDrive all-wheel drive system allowed for extra confidence in the wet – it’s no surprise 50 per cent of buyers now tick this box when ordering their new 3 Series.
Commanding a premium of just £1,500 over the equivalent saloon, it’s unlikely the Touring is going to cost much more per month than a standard 3 Series on a PCP finance deal, either. A Mercedes C 220 d AMG Line is ever so slightly more efficient than the equivalent 320d M Sport, however, meaning it pips the 320d by one band when it comes to Benefit in Kind company car tax.
Standard kit is generous on all BMW models, though, with all cars featuring LED lights, a reversing camera, three-zone climate control, acoustic glazing and an 8.8-inch infotainment system. Step up from SE to Sport (which 23 per cent of buyers are expected to do) and you’ll add larger 18-inch wheels and heated leather seats.
M Sport is expected to be overwhelmingly popular, with 60 per cent of customers opting for the top trim. This adds digital dials and a bigger 10.25-inch central display, as well as sportier styling and access to the flagship M Sport Plus pack – heralding extra black trim and adaptive dampers.
For an alternative review of the latest BMW 3 Series Touring visit our sister site carbuyer.co.uk
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