New car review

BMW 3 Series Touring test drive

We’ve already tested the saloon 3 Series, but what is it like in practicality-focused estate layout?

The BMW 3 Series Touring has come to define sporting practicality in the estate segment since it was first introduced back in the late 80s. Since then, more than 1.7 million examples of the 3 wagon have rolled off the production line, proving just how popular a more practical, more spacious version of the firm’s accomplished saloon can be.

Now, following on from the release of the all-new 3 Series saloon, there’s a fresh 3 Series Touring version too. We’ve headed out to Munich to try out the current range-topping 330d version.

The new BMW 3 Series range is the clear class leader according to our unique Expert Rating system, which collates and aggregates the top UK car reviews. It currently holds an Expert Rating of 91%, a figure which is unlikely to be diminished as more ratings for the 3 Series Touring are added.

What’s new about the BMW 3 Series Touring?

This new 3 Series Touring is based on the updated 3 Series saloon, which means it boasts all of the significant improvements that its booted brother does. It’s wider, longer and taller than the model it replaces, which means it can offer more interior space and a better load area size – key elements for any estate car. Meanwhile, there are a variety of new petrol and diesel engines, along with a plug-in hybrid version that is due to be introduced next summer.

The car’s chassis has been re-engineered for better handling, and the whole car is lighter than the one it replaces, meaning that not only is it better on fuel, it’s better in the bends too.

How does it look?

The new 3 Series Touring is a sleek evolution of the previous generation car. In our eyes, the estate version has always trumped the saloon in the looks department, and we’d argue that the same is the case here. Our test cars were finished in a particularly classy blue shade, with chrome accents which helped to give it a distinctly premium look.

2020 BMW 3 Series Touring review | July 2019 | The Car Expert

At the rear of the car, you’ll find twin exhaust pipes (on 330d models, that is) which gives an indication of the car’s performance. Though the new 3 is longer than the one it replaces, it hasn’t lost the older model’s spot-on proportions. We would argue that the fake intake vents at the rear of the car don’t add much to the car’s appearance, though – if you’re going to add vents, we’re adamant that they should have a function.

What’s the spec like?

This latest 3 Series comes loaded with tech. One of the most popular specifications in the UK will undoubtedly be M-Sport, and this features a range of standard equipment including a full aerodynamics package, adaptive LED headlights and sports tuned suspension.

The new infotainment system is easy to use, too. Standard cars get a nine-inch screen, while high-spec vehicles (like our test car) benefit from a larger ten-inch unit. It’s simple to navigate, good to look at and incorporates BMW’s latest voice recognition technology. You can say “I’m cold”, and the car will automatically increase the interior temperature. It’s clever stuff.

At time of writing, the new 3 Series has not been subjected to the independent Euro NCAP crash testing regime. We will update our BMW 3 Series Expert Rating page when the results are published.

What’s the BMW 3 Series Touring like inside?

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We were impressed by the interior of the new 3 Series saloon and, of course, this means the cabin of the Touring is a great place to be too. The cabin architecture is wide and open, though the relatively high dash means it still feels sporty. There’s plenty of adjustability, too, though the steering wheel is simply far too chunky on the M-Sport trim – it feels like you’re trying to drive with a tractor inner tube for a wheel.

Those sitting in the back won’t feel short-changed, either. There’s plenty of legroom and headroom, so even taller passengers should be able to get comfortable. The boot, meanwhile, has been upped in size over the previous generation car. It’s only been increased by five litres, which isn’t a lot, but it now bumps the total load area up to 500 litres, or 1,510 litres with the rear seats folded flat.

What’s under the bonnet?

This particular 3 Series Touring is powered by a 3.0-litre turbocharged straight-six diesel, which sends 261bhp to all four wheels through BMW’s xDrive all-wheel-drive system. It uses an eight-speed Steptronic gearbox, which handles delivering all 580Nm of torque to the road. Flatten the throttle and the Touring will hit 60mph in just over five seconds, and it’ll carry on accelerating to a top speed of 155mph.

Despite the brisk performance, BMW says that the 330d will return up to 52.3mpg, while emissions are 140-146g/km CO2 depending on wheel size. Our test car rode on adaptive M Sport suspension too, which helps to deliver a comfortable ride and give the driver the ability to adjust its firmness to their liking.

What’s the BMW 3 Series Touring like to drive?

The BMW 3 Series saloon has already impressed us out on the road (we’d tested it in 320d form), so hopes were high for the Touring. The wagon has been given a slightly different suspension setup (to help when it’s fully loaded), but it still manages to be just as accomplished as the saloon.

The ride is well-judged around town, while at speed it becomes even more composed. When you’re travelling quicker, very little external noise intrudes into the cabin, making it very quiet indeed.

Switch the car to Sport mode and the throttle response gets sharper, which means that thanks to the hefty supply of torque the 330d picks up and goes with little hesitation. However, in this mode the steering becomes overly weighty and artificial – it feels just about spot-on in comfort mode instead.

Verdict

The estate builds on the solid foundations made by the saloon – and adds a healthy dose of practicality for good measure. It’s good to drive, quiet, comfortable and well-appointed both inside and out. Though this diesel engine will likely suit those who drive longer miles more, a variety of engines means there’s likely to be a powertrain for everyone – and a plug-in hybrid due next year ticks the electrification box too.

It comes perilously close to being all the car you could ever need – and it certainly feels that way during our initial time with the BMW 3 Series Touring.

Similar cars

Audi A4 Avant | Mercedes-Benz C-Class Estate | Peugeot 508 SW | Volkswagen Passat | Volvo V60

Key specifications

Model: BMW 330d Touring
Price (on-road): £46,063
Engine: 3.0-litre turbocharged straight-six
Gearbox: Eight-speed automatic
Power: 265 hp
Torque: 580 Nm
Top speed: 155 mph
0-60mph: 5.1 seconds
Euro NCAP rating:

Jack Evans
Jack Evans
Articles by Jack Evans are provided for The Car Expert by PA Media (formerly the Press Association). They include test drives of the latest new cars and features on various aspects of automotive life.

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