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BMW 3 Series Touring

£24,670£42,620
9/10
Overall verdict

For: 

Bigger than the old one, derived from the current saloon we know is great

Against: 

Still more lifestyle than load-lugger, if max volumes matter
Being based on the best junior exec is a good start: this car is a belter.

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Our choice

BMW

320d Sport 5dr

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What we say: 

The 3-Series Saloon leads in its sector. Guess what? So does the Estate - bigger and better than ever

What is it?

For those who think the current 3-Series is as good as it gets, hold steady: here’s one with more space, more practicality yet, it seems, no less of the magic that makes the four-door such a stormer. It also answers a rare gripe that some have about the saloon – that its rear end looks too similar to before. Not so with the Touring, whose revised tail dials back some of the old one’s rakishness for a more upmarket and upstanding profile. It’s now every inch the junior 5-Series.

BMW has now completed the range roll-out, with a full range of trims and a broad line-up of engines from 316i to 335i. There are now xDrive all-wheel drive versions of the 320i, 320d, 330d and 335d too, for all-weather grip and a huge amount of all-year round practicality. There really are few better premium all-rounders.

Driving

Bigger it may be, but it doesn’t feel it on the road. Like the saloon, this is a superb driver’s car, with roll-free and engaging handling that encourages exploitation of the engine’s oft-prodigious power. The 3-Series has become fun again. Shame not all motors bring the aural fizz of old: the four-cylinder 328i is swift, but sounds uninspiring. Still, there’s always the 330d six-pot, which is even faster and greener…

As with the saloon, ride quality shows welcome advances over the old car too. It’s still taut, yes, but the stiffness and occasional crash-bang have thankfully gone.

On the inside

The cabin is identical to the saloon: the story, you guessed it, is the rear. The boot has grown for starters, by a full 35 litres to an impressive 495 litres with the seats up (a vital five litres more than an A4 Avant, a crucial 10 litres more than a Mercedes C-Class…). 1,500 litres are revealed when the 40-20-40 split seats are folded.

All models get an electric bootlid, the tailgate glass can be lifted independently of the boot itself and the conundrum of where to dump the parcel shelf with the seats down is solved by a stowage slot beneath the boot floor. Options include a ‘kick-open’ boot release for when your hands are full, and a reversible boot floor for when your shoes are muddy.

As with the 3-Series saloon, there’s more space for heads and knees in the rear too, while up front, the four-door’s model-of-clarity dashboard is carried over.

Owning

Our heart is with the 55.4mpg, 258bhp 330d but our head says go for the four-cylinder models: both 316d and 318d average over 60mpg. The best all-rounder is the 58.9mpg, 184bhp 320d. As for prices, they’re around £1,400 more than the saloon. Not bad for a car that has the makings of a corker. The 5-Series’ title of Best in Class may be under threat…

Highlights from the range

Title 0–62 CO2 MPG BHP Price
The fastest
335d xDrive Luxury 5dr Step Auto
4.9s 148g/km 50.4 313 £42,120
The cheapest
316i ES 5dr
9.4s 143g/km 45.6 136 £24,670
The greenest
320d EfficientDynamics Plus 5dr Step Auto
8.1s 104g/km 70.6 163 £33,280

Wildcard

How about something completely different?

Wildcard

6/10

Peugeot 508 SW

£23,640£31,690
A Peugeot 508 SW may seem leftfield but costs a lot less, is just as welcoming inside and handles almost as well