What is it?:
Around one in five of the 3-series bought in Britain is an estate, and the Touring is popular in mainland Europe too which is why BMW has been quick to introduce this five-door body variation of the latest 3.
And it looks pretty much as you’d expect the wagon version, now with a few more subtle – and welcome - refinements.
What's it like?:
Most obvious is the standard-fit electric tailgate, which retains the separately lifting rear window, an optional under-bumper sensor prompting the door to lift with a waggling of the foot, although there’s clearly a knack to this that was beyond several testers.
Also new is a 40:20:40 split rear seat – rather than 60:40 – which improves the cabin’s flexibility, as does a 35 litre gain in seats-up boot-space to 495 litres. That’s just best-in-class, while seats down this number rises to 1500 litres, the backrests flopping onto their cushions to form an almost flat deck, although they don’t fold electrically. Nor is there a tumble-fold feature to allow the rear seats to form a protective bulkhead – the deep transmission tunnel prevents that – but you can lock the forward section of the rear seats’ cross-bar assembly onto the ends of the folded backrests to form a luggage-arresting lip. And you can then unfurl a load net that hooks into the ceiling. This assembly is now separate from the luggage blind mechanism, complaints about the weight and unwieldiness of the combined unit used in the previous model prompting their separation.
A further advantage of this arrangement is that the luggage blind assembly - now much lighter - can be stowed under a lid in the boot floor. All of which may sound like tedious detail, but makes a big difference to the car’s usability during the battle to load it at B&Q on a Saturday morning. This latest 3-series also offers more room for occupants, the wheelbase stretch yielding 17mm more knee-room, and there’s a fraction more headspace too.
Mechanically the Touring is identical to the saloon except for stiffer rear springs, which may have been why this 328i presented a ride slightly less accomplished than that of a recently sampled 320d saloon. Sharper bumps are the trouble, this 328i wagon riding them less pliantly. But its quick, precise steering and well-balanced, low-roll cornering remain, making this a genuine sports estate.
A brisk one too, with 242bhp from a petrol turbo four that musters promising economy when hooked to BMW’s new eight speed auto. This transmission proved less adept at tremor-free shifts than a diesel X1 using the same box, however.
Should I buy one?:
Diesel will be what the bulk of British Touring buyers opt for of course, and thus powered the Touring should prove almost as enjoyable a drive as the equivalent saloon, but with a whole lot more classy utility.
BMW 328i Touring
Price: £31,925; 0-62mph: 6.0sec; Top speed: 155mph; Economy: 43.5mpg; Co2: 152g/km; Kerbweight: 1595kg; Engine: 4-cyls in-line, 1997cc; Power: 242bhp at 5000-6000rpm; Torque: 258 at 1250-4800rpm; Gearbox: Eight-speed automatic