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BMW 3-series Touring: Test Drive Review

Date: 18 July 2012   |   Author: Jack Carfrae

Category: Estate
P11D price: £31,700
Key rival: Audi A4 Avant

Following in the footsteps of the new saloon is the fifth generation 3-series Touring, the estate version of BMW's upper medium model, itself popular with business drivers.

The wagon has undergone the same sharp-edged restyle as the saloon before it and it's also larger all round. A further 97mm in overall length and an extra 55mm in the wheelbase has, according to BMW, created 9mm more headroom and 17mm of additional knee room for back-Seat passengers. The boot has also grown by 35 litres to 495 litres, and is 1500 with the rear seats folded flat.

Ignoring the figures, those changes translate into a genuinely roomy centre section of the cabin, the only hang-up being low front seats that restrict the amount of room for rear occupants' feet.

The boot is acceptably large but the 3-series can easily be trumped in this area by both premium and non-premium rival estates. Other practicality features add to its appeal, such as the now standard automatic tailgate, which can be opened by making a kicking motion towards the rear bumper.

Only three engines will be available from launch: a pair of diesels with 184hp (320d) and 258hp (330d), neither of which were available on BMW's launch event, and the 245hp 328i petrol tested here. More engines are on the way but have yet to be confirmed, and the firm is considering the possibility of an ultra-clean Efficient Dynamics version, which wasn't available with the previous 3-series estate.

It will pale into insignificance next to the 320d Touring for UK business sales, but the 328i is appealing in its own right, utilising BMW's turbocharged 2.0-litre engine to develop a surprising amount of power from a such a humbly sized unit and producing impressive all-round figures of 41.5mpg, 159g/km and a 0-62mph time of 6.0 seconds.

Next to the firm's smooth and near-silent diesels, the 328i can sound abrasive when pushed, but in every other respect it's among the class best for numbing exterior noises. Its chief rival, the Audi A4 Avant, is arguably slightly more refined and comfortable, but the BMW plays it a close second and easily has the edge for driver appeal because it's every bit as sharp to drive as the saloon. There is a little more noticeable weight from the rear if you really push it, but the steering and body control are as crisp as ever. The price premium over the saloon is £1300.

With a starting P11D of £29,325 for the 320d Touring, upper medium estates come more affordable and more spacious than the 3-series. Few are as many things to fleet drivers, though.

As with its four-door derivative, the BMW's mix of excellent driving dynamics, badge appeal, top build quality and enviable running costs keeps it very much at the top of its game.

BMW 328i Touring SE
P11D price£30,175
Model price range£29,380-£34,700
Fuel consumption41.5mpg
CO2 (tax) 159g/km (22%)
BIK 20/40% per month£111/£221
Service intervalvariable
Insurance (1-50)group 35
Warranty3yrs/unlimited mls
Boot space495/1500 litres
Engine size/power1997cc/245hp
Top speed/0-62mph155mph/6.0secs
On sale September 2012
VerdictA great estate for
business drivers though
the diesel will be better


A great estate for business drivers though the diesel will be better