This 3 Series Touring’s slightly heftier kerb weight does affect the state of play here a little compared with the high dynamic standard set by the 320d last year, but the consequences that arise from the car’s additional mass are minor.
The most notable difference is born out of Munich’s decision to soften off the car’s front suspension to account for the extra mass at the rear. This results in the 3 Series Touring not feeling quite as immediately fleet-footed or incisive as its saloon counterpart when tipped in to a bend, although our testers all agreed that its position at the top of the class’s food chain for handling prowess easily remains unchallenged. Next to the likes of the S4 Avant or V60 T8 Twin Engine, the BMW still stands out as the keen driver’s choice.
That said, its variable-ratio sports steering isn’t particularly feelsome. But the predictable manner in which its weight and responsiveness increase as you wind on lock is quick to impart a rock-solid sense of intuitive confidence in the car’s impressively balanced chassis as you flow it down a fast B-road. Body control, meanwhile, is very good, although the fact that there’s simply more mass to contain does remain on the fringes of your perception.
Grip and traction levels are also excellent, and even though our test car made use of BMW’s xDrive system, it remained distinctly rear biased in the manner in which it behaved in bends. With the M Sport differential, you can feel the rear axle helping rotate the chassis through bends under power, and although that xDrive chassis might not be quite as willing to waggle its tail as its purely rear-driven counterparts, the additional security proffered by the driven front axle is welcome in inclement conditions. Make no mistake: the balance struck here between dynamic poise, driver engagement and inherent handling security is exceptional.