Dimensionally speaking, the switch from saloon to estate has little impact on the 3 Series’ overall footprint. The car still measures 4709mm in overall length and width (without mirrors) remains at 1827mm, although the height of our particular model has increased by 3mm to 1445mm.
The more noticeable difference identifies itself when you examine claimed kerb weights. Next to a like-for-like, rear-wheel-drive 320d M Sport saloon, BMW’s equivalent estate is some 115kg heavier, tipping the scales at 1640kg. Swap the four-cylinder diesel out of the BMW wagon for our test car’s straight six, then add BMW’s rear-biased xDrive four-wheel-drive system and an eight-speed automatic gearbox, and that mass figure leaps to a claimed 1760kg.
However, with its 59-litre fuel tank brimmed, our 330d test car weighed an even more portly 1922kg on our test scales, with that heft being distributed 47% to the front and 53% rear. Not quite the 50:50 split, although not too far wide of the mark – but hardly the sporting kerb weight many might have expected.
Despite the added bulk the practical estate shape brings, our testers largely agreed that the Touring is the more handsome proposition of the two bodystyles. Whereas the saloon bears a not insignificant resemblance to the sort of car you might expect to spot in a Lexus brochure, particularly from the rear, the 3 Series Touring seems to wear BMW’s slightly pernickety new design language a degree more coherently.
In terms of its engine, the 330d is both the entry-level six-cylinder 3 Series (sitting below the petrol-powered M340i) and the range-topping diesel. The 3.0-litre B57 engine makes use of the same single, twin-scroll turbocharger configuration you’ll find in all other 30d-badged BMWs, and here it produces 262bhp at 4000rpm and 428lb ft between 1750rpm and 2750rpm. An eight-speed ZF automatic transmission marshals this punch to the road, while an electronically controlled, full-locking M Sport rear differential (standard fit on our M Sport Plus Edition test car) pitches in to help sharpen handling and traction.
Like its saloon sibling, the 3 Series Touring continues to employ a suspension configuration consisting of MacPherson struts at the front and a multi-link arrangement at the rear. The estate’s anti-roll bars have been stiffened up and the front springs softened a touch to help it cope with its additional mass at the rear, but in other respects the two models are identical.