BMW’s latest 3 Series saloon has shown what it takes to make a class leader, thanks to exceptional dynamics, advanced technology and efficient powertrains. Now it’s joined by the 3 Series Touring, which has the added advantage of a versatile load space and 40:20:40 split folding rear seats.
The new 3 Series sporting stance, aerodynamic profile and assertive ‘face’ have been carried over to the Touring. BMW’s design team have cleverly created an estate-like cabin and load space without making it look in any way boxy or utilitarian. The rear tailgate slopes down towards the taillights, giving it a coupé-like profile without intrusion on the cabin space. Luggage space is 500 litres, an increase on the previous model, and this becomes a full 1500 litres when all rear seats are folded. Careful attention to aerodynamics helps to divert wind noise, while acoustic glass for the windscreen and front side windows gives the cabin a relaxed and refined ambience.
The 3 Series Touring offers a wide choice of petrol and diesel engines. Starting with the diesels, the 318d boasts 150hp and 320Nm of torque, delivering 0-62mph in 8.8 seconds (auto). The 320d Touring shares the two-litre block but power increases to 190hp and 400NM, hitting 0-62mph in 7.1 seconds. The six-cylinder 330d xDrive has all-wheel drive as standard, hits 62mph in 5.4 seconds from rest and returns an impressive 50.4-52.3mpg combined.
The petrol range starts with the two-litre four-cylinder 320i, offering 184hp and 0-62mph in 7.6 seconds. The 330i is also two litres but delivers 258bhp and covers 0-62mph in just 5.9s. Flagship of the range is the M340i, based on a 3.0 litre six-cylinder engine that produces 374hp and 500Nm of torque, for 0-62mph in 4.5 seconds and 37.7-39.8mpg. This powertrain, like the 330d, is only available with xDrive all-wheel drive.
Active Guard Plus, which is standard across the range, includes front collision warning with brake intervention. Other standard features include the Speed Limit Info system with No Passing Info display and the Lane Departure Warning system with steering assist. The optional Driving Assistant Professional includes active cruise control, crossing traffic warning, ‘evasion aid’, lane keeping assistant with active side collision protection and even a wrong-way warning. It also includes Emergency Stop Assistant which will bring the vehicle to a standstill either in the current lane, at the edge of the road or on the hard shoulder if the driver is incapacitated.
Among the features specific to the 3 Series Touring are a fully automated tailgate with separate rear screen opening – handy when someone has parked too close behind you. The optional Anti-Slip Rail System stops packed luggage, bags and suitcases from sliding around in the boot. Parking is simplified with a reversing camera, front and rear Park Distance Control, Parking Assistant, and BMW’s new Reversing Assist function, which stores the steering movements for any section the car has just driven forward along and can then reverse the vehicle for up to 50 metres by steering it back along the same line. BMW Live Cockpit, standard across the range, includes a six-speaker audio with an output of 100 watts. All models from M Sport upwards feature the BMW Live Cockpit Professional with 12.3" Digital cockpit and 10.25" Central instrument display.
Verdict: the 3 Series Touring is so versatile that it makes you wonder why anyone needs anything other car. It carries the respected badge of a premium marque, is well equipped as standard, looks good, and it can swallow sizeable loads or carry a family of five on a touring holiday in comfort. At the same time, like the 3 Series saloon, it’s a joy for the keen driver. The ultimate all-rounder?