At a time when SUVs dominate the new-car market, you might think there’s little room for the humble station wagon.
But these models are not yet forgotten, especially by BMW, which celebrates 35 years of its 3 Series Touring this year – the brand’s very first station wagon, which continues to prove particularly popular, surpassing even the ordinary sedan model. . in several markets.
The current model has been around for just three years, but BMW knows the importance of this market, so an updated car is already here. Let’s find out what it is.
Truly taking the ‘if it ain’t broke, why fix it’ approach, the changes as part of this Series 3 update aren’t the most extensive, at least from the outside.
There’s the same 3 Series silhouette that’s well known and loved, with slight redesigns front and rear, which we’ll explore in more detail later. But the interior receives the bulk of the revisions, the main one being the addition of BMW’s futuristic ‘curved display’, which merges a large digital dial display and touchscreen into one crisp piece of glass. It’s the same setup we’ve seen recently on new BMWs, such as the electric iX and i4.
Engine choice on the 3 Series Touring remains largely the same as before, with the exception of BMW dropping the entry-level 318i and 318d options here in the UK. There are petrol, diesel and plug-in hybrid options, with the latter being particularly popular.
But it’s the humble 320d we’re trying out here, which has been a favorite of those who put in big highway miles for years. Using a 2.0-litre turbocharged diesel engine, it produces 187bhp and 400Nm of torque, and goes through an eight-speed Steptronic Sport automatic gearbox – as all 3 Series do these days. Our test car is the standard rear-wheel-drive model, but you can spend an extra £1,500 on an all-wheel-drive xDrive car; probably a good investment in the UK.
Reaching 60 mph takes seven seconds and it is capable of a top speed of 143 mph. However, efficiency is perhaps more appealing, with BMW claiming around 55mpg and CO2 emissions of 134g/km.
The 3 Series has always been one of the best driving cars in this class, if not the best, and we’re happy to report that nothing has changed here in that regard.
There’s a wonderfully linear and smooth feel to the way the 3 Series Touring goes about its business, with plenty of feel through the steering wheel that urges you to drive a little harder than you would in many of its rivals.
And while diesel might not be the most ‘in’ thing right now, this 320d is a wonderfully capable thing, effortlessly clocking up miles on a motorway while delivering impressive efficiency in the process. If you put in a lot of miles a year, this is the 3 Series for you.
The 3 Series has become one of BMW’s most stylish products, and although the company has sought to inject a little extra sportiness into it, it’s still a very stylish, albeit quite subtle, choice.
The front sees the introduction of new LED headlights, featuring a new signature, while the grille (which thankfully bucks BMW’s current trend of larger grilles) gets a new pattern. There are also new shiny black elements, which are also repeated for the rear bumper. Aside from that and a few new colors, that’s where the visual changes end.
The interior of the 3 Series Touring has become synonymous with quality and space and this latest version is just an extension of that. The 495-litre boot feels almost bigger than the numbers suggest, while other practical touches such as individually folding rear seats and a split-opening boot (meaning the glass can open independently of the metal ) are particularly useful.
But the main change to the interior of the latest 3 Series is the introduction of BMW’s new ‘curved screen’. Rolled out across the brand’s range, it sees a 12.3-inch digital dial and 14.9-inch touchscreen merge to create a particularly modern feel. There are fewer buttons cluttering the cabin (not that there were many before), but BMW has retained the traditional iDrive rotary controller – unlike the latest BMWs – which is easier to use on the go than the screen touch itself.
BMW has reduced the trim range of the latest 3 Series, with the entry-level SE trim being consolidated and the range now comprising Sport, M Sport and ‘M Performance’ models.
Standard equipment is generous across the board, with the aforementioned curved screen, 17-inch alloy wheels, LED headlights, front and rear parking sensors and air conditioning included as a minimum. The M Sport versions offer 18-inch alloy wheels, more aggressive styling and sports suspension.
In terms of 3 Series Touring pricing, it starts from £39,810 for a 320i petrol in Sport trim, with M Sport versions starting at £41,060. You will pay a few thousand pounds for this 320d model.
If there’s one car that really can do it all, the BMW 3 Series Touring is that car. It may not be the greatest station wagon on the market, but its combination of sporty driving experience, quality and functionality makes it hard to beat.
The addition of a more premium interior and a fantastic curved screen has only made this wagon even better. We don’t do numerical ratings, but rest assured the 3 Series Touring would get the full five stars if we did.