Most of the rules that applied to the saloon continue to apply in the Touring. The 3 Series Touring has a feel-good cabin with an attractively designed dashboard – BMW calls its cascading swathes of soft-touch plastics ‘layering’ – that is also high on ergonomic excellence.

Over the years the 3 Series Touring has apparently been honed to be as economically proportioned as it needs to be, and not a single millimetre bigger. Our ‘typical’ rear legroom figure, which is the amount left when the driver wants 890mm of room (the average amount), matches it precisely, also at 890mm. Rear headroom is a perfectly acceptable 970mm.

Matt Prior

Matt Prior

Road test editor
The surface finishes in this Luxury trim 3 Series are much more pleasing to our eyes than the gaudier options in Sport-trimmed Threes

Where you will find a compromise for having a ‘premium’ car is in the boot. The Touring’s 495-litre load bay is bigger than that of its immediate rivals – and 15 litres bigger to the tonneau than the saloon’s – but still not huge. At 1500 litres all in with the seats folded, this is less room than you’ll find in cheaper volume alternatives such as the Ford Mondeo, Peugeot 508 or Skoda Superb.

You’re paying here for performance and cachet, not space. Fittingly, then, the rear screen opens without having to lift the whole tailgate, electric opening is standard and our car came with a £470 ‘comfort access’ option, which allows the boot to open by way of a foot waved beneath the rear bumper.

Speccing your 3 Series Touring is no mean feat, as the wealth of configurable options means you could spend next to forever tweaking the car how you want. However, if you want a car with a certain level of equipment BMW has six trim levels for you to choose from - SE, Efficient Dynamics Plus, Sport, Efficient Dynamics Sport, Luxury and M Sport.

The entry-level SE models come with 17in alloys, automatic lights and wipers on the outside, while inside occupants get dual-zone climate control, cruise control, cupholders and BMW's iDrive infotainment system, including sat nav, DAB radio, Bluetooth and online services. Opt for an ED model and you get energy saving tyres, active air flaps, a leather upholstery and heated front seats. 

The two Sport models also add sportier details and seats, while the ED Sport models also benefit from a leather upholstery and heated seats. Luxury models get a host of chrome details and black gloss touches, while the 330i modesl also benefit from front and rear parking sensors.

The range-topping M Sport trim gains M Performance alloys, sports suspension, interior and exterior details, LED headlights, while the 340i gets a sports automatic 'box and predictive gearshifts based on data from the sat nav.

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