Want space without buying an SUV or MPV? Try BMW’s alternative in the shape of the 3 Series Touring
BMW 3 Series Touring review – read before buying your next
Not everyone wants an SUV or MPV. So, it’s lucky that these buyers have such a great alternative in the shape of the BMW 3 Series Touring. For some time, the 3 Series has been the go-to car for the compact executive class-and the estate version is no exception.
BMW 3 Series Touring design and looks
There’s no mistaking this car as being anything except a BMW, and its elongated shape might even make it look better than its saloon version. The contoured doors and sleek lines give it a slightly sporty look – and one which is accentuated even more in M Sport versions of the car.
Now in its 7th generation, over time the whole 3 Series range has gradually been refined and made even more desirable and practical while still staying true to BMW’s traditional styling. The standard 17-inch wheels may mean that the car isn’t quite as imposing as it could be on the kerbside, but that’s a very small quibble to make.
Are used BMW 3 Series Tourings good to drive?
You might not expect a car the size of the Series 3 Touring to handle that well, but you’ll have a very nice surprise in store for you. The combination of the wide range of engines and rear-wheel-drive mean that this is an estate that has a distinctly sporty feel to it.
The steering is light and precise, and the great suspension system means that ridges, potholes and other bumps are absorbed leaving you to enjoy a smooth ride - especially if those smaller, more forgiving 17-inch wheels are fitted. There’s even a four-wheel drive version available, the xDrive, that makes the car sure-footed in the wet.
It’s also a very quiet car with little or no wind or road noise which makes for very restful long-distance travel, even if the kids in the back don’t adhere to the same rules.
BMW 3 Series Touring interior – space, storage and style
Mercedes is the make that is often held up as the best for interiors - BMW is catching up fast. Get behind the wheel of the 3 Series Touring and you’ll be surrounded by high-quality materials and a cabin that has been put together with the driver in mind.
All of the controls and instruments are angled towards you and the low seat position adds to the sporty feel of the car. Seat adjustment is easy, and even simpler in models with electronic adjustment. The only slight downside of your position is that there isn’t the lumbar support that many other cars offer, and the rear visibility isn’t that great. So, it’s good news that parking sensors come as standard, along with Sat Nav, DAB radio and climate control.
These are all controlled through the intuitive iDrive system which works alongside the 8.8-inch infotainment screen set in the middle of the dash.
In the back there’s plenty of leg and headroom, all thanks to the stretched-out dimensions of the car – although it’s always going to be more comfortable for four passengers instead of five thanks to the bulky transmission tunnel for the rear-wheel-drive.
Mercedes is the make that is often held up as the best for interiors - BMW is catching up fast.
BMW 3 Series Touring – practicality and boot space
It might not have the massive capacity of larger estates, but the Series 3 Touring does pretty well all the same. The boot is big enough to swallow the big shop, even if there’s a buggy to squeeze in as well.
The 40/20/40 seats all fold down easily to make it a flexible space for whatever shape of packages you take on board. There are lots of other practical features too such as floor hooks and dividers and a cargo net.
All models have a powered tailgate that comes in very handy when your arms are full with the results of a successful shopping spree.
BMW 3 Series Touring running costs and reliability
There’s a good choice of petrol and diesel engines to choose from, although it’s diesel that’s probably the wisest choice if you want to keep fuel costs down. To help with this, all cars come with a stop-start feature and, if you’re going for diesel, the 2.0-litre engine will give you an average of around 57mpg. For petrol engines the figure drops to around 42mpg, still pretty good for a car with the performance of the 3 Series Touring.
When it comes to other running costs, insurance premiums are likely to be on the high side, thanks to the cost of BMW parts and servicing as well as the actual value of the car – although there is a quite generous 2 year or 15,000-mile interval between major services which makes budgeting for them a little easier.
What cinch loves
It might be classed as a compact executive estate, but the Series 3 Touring is big on comfort, drive and performance. There’s also a great range of engines to choose from with the best of them giving economy figures that are very competitive indeed.
What else to consider? BMW 3 Series Touring alternatives
The 3 Series Touring is a class act that’s as good to travel in as it is to drive – and it’s very good to drive indeed. Add practicality, economy and high levels of tech and you’re on to a real winner in its class.
Still looking for the one?
Use our comparison tool to find the car for you
Town and country drivers
BMW has done it again with the 3 Series Touring by showing how well it can evolve a car so each generation is just that little better than the previous. It all adds up to a car that scores very highly in every single department.
This review was