Drives as well as the saloon. Useful boot. Lots of tech. Looks good to us
Not so relaxing as a Mercedes C-class or Audi A4
What is it?
To anyone who's done their 3 Series homework, the Touring estate brings no surprises. The front half is pretty much identical, and that's absolutely no bad thing.
What about the back end?
Towards the rear, the designers have taken on the same mission as with the saloon – don't just clone'n'shrink a 5 Series – but used a different technique. Where previous 3 Tourings took the window line and simply extended it level, here the lower line of the glass angles upward behind the door. That makes, in effect, the biggest-ever Hofmeister kink. It also gives the design some forward-aiming dynamism. Another easy spot: the main side crease no longer runs through the door handles.
But it's bigger, right?
The Touring remains the same length as the contemporary saloon. As surely as the sun rises, they've grown. The added length is less than the length of a credit card, but it's more about crash safety than interior space, which hasn't seen much benefit.
That outline encloses 500 litres of boot, which is about par among the style-led premium wagons, but visibly less than, say, the Passat. Still, the 3 Series has some neat mechanisms to ensure your small but perfectly formed cargo is easily loaded and well restrained.
Which bits are new?
Underneath, the Touring's – like the saloon's – components are almost entirely renewed for this new G20 generation. The suspension principles, the seats, electronics and so on cascade down from the bigger cars BMW has launched in the past couple of years. The suspension and drivetrain use more aluminium than before, and the bonnet and front wings are aluminium too. Overall it's slightly lighter than the old Touring.
Our choice from the range
What's the verdict?
If you can't find a 3 Series Touring to suit you, you've got some pretty special automotive needs. For most of us, it's all the car we could use or want.
Unless you habitually carry tall rear-seat passengers, or really bulky cargo, or go off-road, it'll do you proud.
It drives as wonderfully as the 3 Series saloon. Have your cake and eat it. It'll carry a lot of cake.