- Car Reviews
- M3 Touring
What is it like on the inside?
You’re expecting this to be more of the same, aren’t you? Well, wrong! The M3 Touring arrives with the interior from the facelifted BMW 3 Series, which is worse than before in several small but annoyingly important ways.
Firstly, all of the heater buttons are gone. Dead. Their ghosts lurk in the 14.9-inch Curved Display touchscreen, which can (mostly) still be operated with the iDrive clickwheel. Handy, since zooming into a map or scrolling through a list is a horrid experience on the touchscreen.
The heater controls stay present all the time, which is useful, but if you want the heated seats on, you need a sub-menu. Change the fan speed? Sub-menu. Fumey old banger pulls out ahead, and you want to block the air from being pumped into the cabin? Sub-menu. It’s now two, three or more prods of a screen, where there used to be one button push and done. So, well done BMW. An epic fail: common sense and usability sacrificed at the altar of minimalism. You’d have thought they’d learn from VW’s recent interior design implosion.
There are other problems too. The digital dials are a mess, being tricky to read and completely lacking the expensive clockface design we got in M cars of the 1990s and 2000s. That’s a huge piece of heritage lost, though BMW attempts to redeem itself by making the tyre pressure gauge graphic a helicopter view of the M1 supercar, which is quite cool.
Has BMW ruined the 3 Series’ cabin?
Happily, no. Not yet. The fundamentals are great: the driving position is spot on, materials feel very expensive (and so they should for £80k+) and the carbon shelled seats are phenomenally comfortable, though climbing in and out is a bit of a gauntlet for blokes. And the glossy carbon backrests hardly scream ‘load me with dirty stuff for the tip’.
Speaking of the back end, let’s get to it. You get just over 500 litres of boot space, or with the rear seats easily folded flat, three times that. There’s useful underfloor stowage, loops to lash stuff to, and the split tailgate with the separate folding rear window remains a slither of genius when you can’t be bothered to wait for the standard electric tailgate. We wish the parcel shelf load cover thingamajig wasn’t so cumbersome, but that’s a constant across all such cars, not exclusively a BMW issue.