Estate cars remain a popular choice among car buyers in Europe, which is why BMW has rolled out the new G21 3 Series Touring for customers who require more practicality than what the G20 3 Series Sedan can offer.
Compared to the previous-generation F31 3 Series Touring, the new model is a much larger car, measuring 4,709 mm in length (+76 mm), 1,827 mm in width (+16 mm) and 1,470 mm in height (+8 mm). Consequently, the wheelbase now spans 2,851 mm (+41 mm), while the front and rear tracks are 1,573 mm (+43 mm) and 1,569 mm (+21 mm) respectively.
Despite the larger dimensions, the new car tips the scales up to 10 kg less than the model it replaces, thanks to the increased use of high-strength steels and aluminium. Body rigidity is also up by 25% overall, and the wagon has a 50:50 weight distribution.
Looking at the car from the front, it’s almost impossible to distinguish the 3 Series Touring from its sedan sibling. Familiar cues include the large kidney grille and slim headlamps clusters; the latter being full-LED units as standard, with an extended function and Adaptive LED headlights with BMW Laserlight systems being available options.
Other optional items include LED fog lamps, which are integrated into the front outer air intakes together with the Air Curtains on the horizontal T-shaped element; this applies to Sport Line and Luxury Line models, but not the base Advantage Line. Meanwhile, the M Sport model gets a more aggressive bumper design with large air intakes instead.
In profile, we see the extended roofline of the Touring model that is accompanied by large window sections, leading to a sloping rear window that culminates in the wedge shape of the standard powered tailgate. Roof rails are also part of the car’s standard specification, and can be ordered in different finishes.
Moving to the rear, the emphasis on practicality sees a rear window that is 20 mm wider than on its predecessor, and can still be opened separately for quick access to the cargo area without having to open the liftgate. Other aspects of the rear are the L-shaped taillights and the T-shaped apertures found on all Line models except for the M Sport.
The party piece of the 3 Series Touring is undoubtedly the cargo area, which sees an improvement over the outgoing model. The boot is now 112 mm wider, and its loading aperture is 30 mm higher and up to 125 mm wider in its upper section.
As a result, the boot now offers 500 litres of space (+5 litres) with the all seats in their default positions. Fold the 40:20:40 split-folding rear bench down and you’ll get a maximum capacity of 1,510 litres.
It’s also easier to load items too, as the loading sill is slightly lower at 616 mm, and the step between the sill and boot floor is now just 8 mm from 35 mm. BMW adds that unlike competitor models, the 3 Series Touring can be specified with rubberised anti-slip rails with an optional load compartment package, which includes an electronically activated folding function for the seats.
The rest of the cabin shares many of the sedan’s systems and features, including the optional Live Cockpit Professional that consists of 12.3-inch instrument cluster display and 10.25-inch Control Display primary infotainment unit powered by BMW Operating System 7.0.
Lesser versions of the system (Live Cockpit and Live Cockpit Plus) feature a black instrument cluster with a 5.7-inch display and an 8.8-inch Control Display instead, with Live Cockpit Plus coming with a Touch Controller, navigation system, two USB ports for data transfer, Apple CarPlay support and Wi-Fi interface.
There are also plenty of options available, with a 16-speaker Harman Kardon sound system, triple-zone climate control, a panoramic sunroof, ambient lighting and a selection of interior trims and upholstery.
No shortage of driver assistance systems either, with autonomous emergency braking and lane departure warning being standard. Options include Driving Assistant Professional, which consists of Active Cruise Control system with Stop & Go function, Steering and Lane Control Assistant, Lane Change Warning, Side Collision Protection, Evasion Assistant, Cross Traffic Alert, Priority Warning And Wrong-Way Warning and Emergency.
At launch, BMW offers a number of petrol engines, starting with the M340i xDrive that features a 3.0 litre turbocharged straight-six with 374 PS (369 hp) and 500 Nm of torque (zero to 100 km/h in 4.5 seconds, 250 km/h top speed).
The remaining two variants employ a 2.0 litre turbo four-cylinder, and on the 330i, the mill develops 258 PS (255 hp) and 400 Nm (0-100 km/h in 5.8 seconds, 250 km/h top speed). As for the 320i, it makes 184 PS (181 hp) and 300 Nm (0-100 km/h in 7.6 seconds, 230 km/h top speed). All petrol variants come with an eight-speed Steptronic automatic transmission as standard, with xDrive being an option for the 330i – standard on the M340i.
There’s also a petrol hybrid 330e variant that will be available from summer 2020, which serves up a total system output of 252 PS (248 hp). The setup includes a 2.0 litre turbo four-pot (184 PS or 181 hp) and an electric motor (109 PS or 107 hp) integrated into the eight-speed automatic gearbox.
Over in the diesel camp, there’s the 330d xDrive with a 3.0 litre turbo straight-six serves up 265 PS (261 hp) and 580 Nm (0-100 km/h in 5.4 seconds, 250 km/h top speed). It’s followed by the 320d that uses a 2.0 litre turbo four-pot, good for 190 PS (188 hp) and 400 Nm (0-100 km/h in 7.4 seconds, 225 km/h top speed).
Lastly, the 318d also uses a 2.0 litre four-cylinder but makes just 150 PS (148 hp) and 320 Nm. A six-speed manual transmission is standard on both the 318d and 320d, but the latter can be specified with an optional eight-speed automatic. All-wheel drive is also available for the 320d, although there’s no manual option for this configuration.
Much like the sedan, the 3 Series Touring can be ordered with M Sport suspension in place of the standard one. In this case, there’s a 10 mm lower ride height, additional body struts, firmer springs and anti-roll bars, plus and a higher degree of wheel camber.
Both suspension setups work with a newly developed lift-related damper control, which is a passive system that adds extra hydraulic damping at the front axle and a compression limiting system to the rear.
If that isn’t enough, there’s Adaptive M suspension with electronically controlled dampers that is linked to the Driving Experience Control, with Comfort, Adaptive and Sport modes. Variable sport steering is included as standard with both M-branded suspension systems.
If that still isn’t enough “M” in your G21, throw in the M Sport brakes that consist of lighter brake discs coupled to blue-painted calipers (four-piston fixed units at the front and single-piston floating unit at the rear). There’s also an M Sport differential available for the 330i, 330i xDrive and 330d xDrive with the M Sport or Adaptive M suspension.
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