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a dark blue bmw m3 touring driving away from the camera on a twisty country road

BMW M3 Competition Touring review

We’ve been long overdue an M3 Touring from BMW. It teased us with a concept in 2000 based on the E46 generation of 3 Series, but this never made it into production. 

But now it's made one – but is it any good, and should you drop six figures on one? 

Reasons to buy:

  • It’s BMW’s first-ever M3 Touring 

  • 510hp family estate car 

  • Thrilling to drive


the black and white leather interior of a bmw m3 touringWith this being such a pivotal model in BMW’s lineup, it would've been foolish to stick in a standard 3 Series interior, which is precisely what BMW hasn’t done.

Instead, the M3 Touring’s cabin feels every bit the money it costs and is filled with supple Nappa leather and carbon fibre. 

The front two seats are very supportive, with adjustable lateral support that inflates the side of the seats to really squeeze you in – don't worry, you can deflate them if you’re feeling a little wider after lunch.

When sat in the driver’s seat, you can lower it to get that excellent BMW M driving position – and if you’ve ever wanted to experience a proper performance car carbon fibre bucket seat, then this BMW family estate car may appeal to you. 

While comfort is important, modern car tech is arguably more so because of how much it can improve the overall driving experience.

In all new M3s, you get a large 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster next to a 14.9-inch screen that runs across the dashboard.

This is used to display all the relevant information you need such as your maps, music, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and more in-depth vehicle settings.

Overall, BMW’s iDrive system is one of the best infotainment systems in the business and is very intuitive. 

a bmw m3 touring's infotainment displayWhile there’s a hell of a lot of screen, you don’t actually need to touch it if you want to keep it free of ugly fingerprints.

This is thanks to the trusty physical dial that sits to the left of the driver, which is particularly useful on a bumpy road. 

As well as this nifty dial, some other key features make the M3 Touring feel especially performance-focused, such as a smattering of M badges and some fancy carbon fibre paddle shifters.

Yes, if you couldn’t tell already, the theme of this estate car is carbon fibre, and lots of it. 


a dark blue bmw m3 touring driving on a country roadWhile the interior is one of the most important aspects of a car, when it comes to fast estate cars, performance is what you want to pay the most attention to.  

Purring away under the hunky bonnet of the M3 Touring is a twin-turbocharged 3.0-litre six-cylinder engine – a spectacular unit offering an insane 510hp and 650Nm of torque.  

When you put your foot down, this gravely, gruff and very quick wagon can propel itself from 0-62mph in just 3.6 seconds and on to an electronically limited top speed of 155mph. It’s a true Autobahn-blitzer. 

Between the engine and the wheels is an eight-speed automatic gearbox that’s controlled via a pair of lovely carbon fibre paddles.

It’s usually the Italians who are known for making beautifully ergonomic paddle shifters, but the Germans have nailed it this time too. 

The Touring is only available in AWD (which BMW calls xDrive), unlike the competition saloon which has a pure RWD option.

The estate version, however, has a sneaky trick up its sleeve that means it can be switched to rear-wheel-drive through some clever technology.  

a dark blue bmw m3 touring side profileIn all-wheel-drive mode, all the power feels under control and well-maintained by the many onboard computers.

But when you stick it into two-wheel-drive mode, at the click of a button it decouples the front axle and sends all the power to the rear wheels, allowing for a loose backend, which is quite an experience in a 1.8-tonne family car 

500hp+ to the rear wheels is a lot of muscle. It does feel slightly heavy around a corner, with the whole car leaning, but overall, it’s well-planted.

Because the front of the car is nicely stuck to the ground, the rear follows, keeping it all together – especially when it comes to mid-corner traction. 

Helping with this is the car’s adaptive M suspension that can be tuned and adjusted through several modes, making it comfortable for UK roads, even on 20-inch wheels.

It can also be much firmer and more track-focused, but after all, who’s really taking a Touring on track?  

For UK roads, it’s perfect because you can fine-tune the driving modes using its ‘M1’ and ‘M2’ buttons on the steering wheel, allowing you to save your custom driving preferences and activate them at the push of a button.

This can be adjusted via the infotainment screen, so if you wanted soft suspension but sharper throttle response, then tuning it is really very simple. 

The result is a car that’s sublime on our (often bumpy) roads, being able to have the best suspension and most aggressive engine settings activated in unison.

It does like to feel its way around bumps and sometimes there’s a wiggle from the rear, but when it hunkers down, it’s like a wild Tibetan wolf sniffing the ground for its next meal. 

To help keep it on the road, there are a whopping 10 different traction control modes, which is unheard of in a family car.

It’s the sort of accurate micro adjustment you’d expect in a full-on GT3 car or the powerful and heavily winged Mercedes AMG GT-R – not a family estate with a massive boot.  

The car we tested has more than £7,000 of carbon ceramic brakes, so coming to a stop can be done quicker than you can say ‘blimey’ – which is all you can muster when stamping on the brake pedal.

It’s a lot of cash for some brakes – in fact, you can buy a whole older M3 car for that price – but if you have the cash to spare, it’s a very usable (and safe) option to add on.

a close up shot of a dark blue BMW M3 Touring's M3 badgeYes, this is a six-figure car, but it’s so much more than just an estate with a powerful engine.  

It’s got motorsport technology, handling that defies physics and an engine that can be efficient, comfortable and a bit of a ferocious monster when you want it to be.

It’s a serious machine that –despite being as practical as a shed – drives the same as its saloon version. 

Its whole package is cohesive, with a reactive engine and a forgiving chassis. You’d think it would feel a bit unhinged, but they work together seamlessly.

Whether you’re coming from another M car or something a bit different, the performance of this German estate will blow you away – and if it doesn’t then you’re twisted and/or are probably a racing driver. 

Purring away under the hunky bonnet of the M3 Touring is a twin-turbocharged 3.0-litre six-cylinder engine


a dark blue bmw m3 touring's open bootMost performance cars don’t do very well in the practicality department because they’re too focused on being fast and not being useful, but the M3 Touring excels at both. 

The front seats hug you into position, which is perfect for corners and can be adjusted to your liking.

As you move to the rear, you’ll be pleasantly surprised by the amount of headroom, which is more than you’d get in an SUV because the Touring isn’t hindered by a sloped roofline. 

The legroom is also impressive because of the carbon-backed bucket seats, which are carved out at the rear.

Rear passengers also benefit from rear heating controls, A/C and some USB ports to charge their devices. 

The boot space is the standout feature, offering 500 litres – 20 litres more than the saloon. Being an estate, you also have the luxury of folding down the rear seats, which gives you a total of 1,510 litres.  

Its flat roof also means you can easily place a bike on top, or a roof box. 

Running costs

a close up shot of a bmw m3 touring's six-cylinder engineIt’s all well and good owning a car as fast and as powerful as the M3 Touring, but do the associated costs make it worth it? 

Being BMW’s flagship ‘M’ product, it was never going to be cheap. Prices start at £86,570 and can rise well into the six figures, which puts it more than £15,000 above its Audi RS4 competitor. 

The car we tested was priced at £103,135 thanks to some hefty options including the £7,000 carbon ceramic brakes, so it's far from being the average person’s daily driver.  

You also need to factor in some other standard costs linked with car ownership such as road tax and insurance, which will vary from person to person, but road tax is expected to cost between £165 and £355 per year. 

Another significant cost is petrol, because oh boy, does this car like a drink – but what do you expect from a performance car?

It gets an officially claimed 27.4mpg, which isn’t awful, but it's far behind some of its more sensible estate rivals, such as the 404mpg Mercedes C-Class plug-in hybrid or the 353mpg Volvo V60 PHEV. 

Written by Ben Welham

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The BMW M3 Touring is a fine machine that’s capable, luxurious and practical. It’s one of those cars that’s been anticipated for so long and does not disappoint.

But it does beg the question – how much longer are we going to have cars like this?  

The future is electric and the next M3 will probably add hybridisation, so right now, this feels butch, burly, very capable and dare we say, a little bit old-school.  

Everyone buys SUVs for the big boot, but buy one of these and you'll make other drivers green with envy in the car park. 

This review was