That subheading looks exaggerated, but it isn’t. The M3 has actually been around for that long (the E30 was first shown at the Frankfurt show in 1985) and has not been touring in all that time. It’s crazy when you think about it. Intuition suggests that the original was too pure, too focused on approval and touring car dominance for a wagon to spin in it, and BMW only built the M3 Convertible in 1988 and completely undermined that belief. Obviously everything was a game.
Still cherished by the E36 328i Tourings, which shows their love for them, the alternative to the all-conquering Audi RS2 might have been the M3 of the mid-’90s. BMW liked the idea of the E46 M3 so much they built a working prototype and showed how easy it was to assemble. The E90 M3 Touring could have been sold alongside the M5, which shares 80% of the V10. And with all that lovely twin-turbo torque, the previous generation would certainly have made a sublime wagon.
But that’s in the past. M3 Tourings are cana, woulda, shoulda. Now we all have actual products weighing 1,865 kg and 103,135 lbs (as tested). And while I’m not reviewing the G8x M car without discussing its design, this time it’s more positive than ever. We’re all a little more used to the front end now, and it almost feels like the Touring is a big car for such a big grille. maybe. But everywhere else is great. Of course, the profile is made to look interesting because the M3 Touring really happened and it’s hard to get over it. The carvings on the doors and sides work well, and the black along the sills enhances the crouched stance.
Concerns that this generation lacks attitude or tension should be answered from the rear, which is easily Touring’s best angle. The arches are downright rude, as if the M5’s tracks were tightly packed and the 20-inch wheels (19-inch front) were well-suited to pop out perfectly. The way the taillights meet the crease of the body only serves to make the M3 appear wider, and the exhaust quartet looks bigger than ever. It comes together so well that it’s almost like the M3 and M4 were designed around this model first, rather than vice versa. You can tell it’s an M vehicle by removing the badge. M vehicles with dog hatch rear screen.
What a shame, then, that the interior is worse than current sedans and coupes. It’s fairly symptomatic of the new BMW curved display that introduced the horrible dial design that isn’t specifically Touring-specific but migrates to all new M3s and M4s. There may be more significant complaints, especially when the heads-up display is excellent, but the energy smart meter and children’s game show graphics are very disappointing. M-mode transitions with Road, Sport and Track changing assists and screens only serve to introduce a laser tag theme into the mix.
The obtrusive is doubly unfortunate as the rest of the interior is great. BMW has arguably fallen into the trap of trying to show too much on a huge wraparound display, but the resolution is so good it’s like running an iDrive in iMax format. Sure, there’s a great driving position aided by optional seats, but the predictable revelations lie behind it. The 3 Series Touring has never been the most accommodating estate, and we all know that, but the glass half full view is that this is by far the most practical M3 at some distance.
Any passenger taller than 6 feet will be accommodated well enough behind a driver of the same height, with plenty of room in the comfy seats and appear unaffected by these arches. And while 500 liters isn’t the largest trunk, it’s a reasonable shape and the seats fold forward at the touch of a button next to the boot lid. The roof box is still available if needed and the Isofix is also easy to use. With the new C63 now having to accommodate the hybrid bit, it’s surprising that Mercedes finds something bigger for people and things. If you want to build an M3 Touring with your family, you can definitely do it.
The estate will only be offered here in xDrive competition format. That’s not bad, given that the four drive wheels are good for transfers, and BMW’s all-wheel-drive system is one of the best. The model’s heavy curb weight is 90 kg more than that of a sedan in its class. This sounds like a lot, but less than 5% when talking about such a heavy car. Whether it makes a difference is one of the dozens of questions you’ll come across while driving your first M3 Touring for the first time. Is it slow here? Will the rear axle behave differently when this happens?
The short answer is that, by and large, the Touring feels very similar to its siblings. It shares the two- and four-door models with a very powerful straight-six engine, the same eerily aligned drivetrain that apparently seems to cater to all requests, and a tenaciously determined front end that never stops gripping. The same superlative damping means it’s tightly controlled but still soft when you want it. The Touring also shares some less desirable traits, such as the brakes’ sport settings. Not only is it unnecessary, it doesn’t make any difference if the optional ceramic is beyond much criticism anyway. Likewise, you can get used to the sport steering’s extra weight, but comfort rarely appears to be improved. why do you have
Only when driven a little faster (and ‘a little’ in G8x parlance tends to sell less than it stacks up) the wagon will probably feel a bit heavier and less willy for that part. That the difference is subtle enough to want continuous driving may not be of much interest to touring customers, but the M4 hasn’t left body movement unchecked, or milliseconds more abruptly. Nonetheless – or perhaps more appropriately – the M3 feels like the current Audi RS4 is about 20 years old and makes it 200kg heavier due to the way it stops, turns and goes. It’s on a whole other level, and easily qualifies as one of the fastest and most capable wagon vehicles ever built in terms of ground-covering capabilities. If the new C63 proves to be superior (which may not be the case, according to early experience), it will be terrific.
Certainly the overarching sense is that the M3 experience we’ve become accustomed to and love very much has been conveyed impressively well to touring. If there are blemishes, doubts remain whether the wagon seemed to have less rearward deflection than previous xDrive models or even the Alpinq B3 when in native 4WD mode. Potentially, the Michelin Pilot Sport 4 S tires fitted here could claim better grip than Alpina’s custom Pirelli P Zeroes. Under similar conditions, however, Touring seemed a little sharper at throwing power forward and straightening up. Of course, if that’s important to you, two-wheel drive is just a push of a button and it’s still a hoot. The long wheelbase, tightly wound M diff and the immediate response of the S58 underpin this.
Ultimately, the car’s ability to mimic M cars is certainly cause for rejoicing, but it also suggests a pause for reflection. By faithfully replicating the brilliance and impressive bandwidth of the old M3 and M4, you sometimes wonder if BMW has surpassed the needs of a car you’ll definitely be buying for your family. We recently appreciated the touring version of the Alpina. Not to mention the softer Comfort Plus suspension and much more subdued styling, not to mention engine tuning that emphasizes the effortlessness of higher torque figures. Imagine a more convenient fit for a wider range of everyday use cases while providing ample entertainment on demand.
Or, in other words, you would have to really want the M3 to want a touring version. Because the B3 is already the fastest family car anyone could ever need. Depending on your personal preference, the M3 can drop right down from the perfect all-around stakes or soar above it as a B-road-slatting performance car with the added convenience of a big boot. Basically, don’t buy without considering anything else. The best part, of course, is that you have a choice. It’s the choice we’ve been waiting for nearly 40 years. The fact that the first M3 Touring was a good and justifiably M car makes the moment even sweeter.
Specifications | BMW M3 Touring Competition XDRIVE (G81)
engine: 2,993cc, twin-turbo in-line 6-cylinder
infection: 8-speed automatic, all-wheel drive
Power (horsepower): 510@6,250rpm
Torque (lb ft): 479@2,750-5,500rpm
0-62 mph: 3.5 seconds
top speed: 155 miles per hour
weight: 1,865 kg DIN, 1,940 kg EU
carbon dioxide: 230-227g/km
price: £80,605 (standard price, as-tested price £103,135 (erk), BMW M 50 years badge £300, Ultimate Pack (includes heated steering wheel, comfort access, extended storage content, M carbon bucket seats, Driving Assistant Professional, Laserlight), Parking Assistant Plus, Drive Recorder, M Carbon Exterior Styling) £11,250, Frozen Pure Gray II metallic paint £2,985 and M Pro Pack (M Carbon Ceramic Brakes w/ Gold Calipers and M Driver Pack) £7,995
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