BMW 3 Series Touring Interior Layout & Technology | Top Gear
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Monday 11th December


What is it like on the inside?

Up front, there's no way of knowing you're in the Touring except by looking in the rear-view mirror.

The G21 is emphatically better-furnished than the old-gen 3 Series, and the recent facelift has improved things further. The front seats and driving position are as terrific as they’ve always been, and said seats now come heated even on entry-level versions.

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This latest generation added a bit more rear seat space too, with the Touring’s long roof helping headroom. It even has three-abreast child seat mounts. But it isn't minicab-sized, and the transmission tunnel impedes people sliding in and out to the opposite door.

What about the boot?

Never mind the boot's size (500 litres for all but the PHEV, remember), it's easy to use. The opening is slightly wider than it was in the previous generation, and under the floor is a compartment to neatly store the boot blind and dog net. BMW's usual separate opening tailgate-glass features too. For chucking small stuff in, it's so much handier than waiting for the electric full tailgate, and also means you can always add one more waffer-theen mint to a full boot without the rest bursting out.

An optional storage pack includes a set of polished metal front-to-back rails in the floor, with rubber inserts. Open the boot and this rubber retracts below the level of the metal, so you can easily slide boxes in and out. Shut the door and the rubber stands slightly proud, to give a grippy surface. A small thing, but...

And the infotainment?

Here’s where the big changes were made with the facelift. In front of you is now a giant curved display that’s running BMW Operating System 8 and incorporates both your dial display and your infotainment screen. It’s standard on all 3 Series Tourings and is a remarkably responsive touchscreen, although it is a magnet for messy fingerprints and we’re a little disappointed that BMW has included the climate controls up there instead of keeping its separate panel down below.

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However, the best news here is that the good old iDrive rotary controller remains, complete with shortcut buttons around it. That means you can use the system without looking down, even when the car is bouncing along.

One thing we’re not so keen on with this facelift though is the change to the gear selector. The 3 Series has followed the crowd in switching to a small push/pull button thing from its old protruding lever. This new one lacks any real tactile involvement and means you can no longer switch into a left-handed manual mode – that’s reserved for the wheel-mounted paddles. Shame. 

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