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BMW shrugs off relentless rise of the SUVs with a sleek new 3 Series estate

By Paul Connolly

BMW has unveiled UK pricing and spec for a sleek new version of its famous 3 Series Touring estate model.

Despite the ever-greater march of SUVs into the market, the 3 Series Touring remains a key model for the German manufacturer, with 1.7 million cars sold since launch in 1987.

Even though it is the proud possessor of a swathe of SUVs itself, BMW is keeping faith with the estate car format.

Indeed, it has endowed the latest version with a variety of enhancements including:

  • Sleeker external BMW design language
  • A roomier and more practical cabin
  • Reduced weight and improved driving dynamics
  • A UK-exclusive M Sport Plus Edition

And a plug-in hybrid model (although you’ll have to wait until next summer for the pleasure of driving one of those).

The new 3 Series Touring, priced from £35,505, comes equipped, as you’d expect, with latest-generation engines, new chassis technology and intelligent equipment.

It also includes the new BMW design language, a refined interior and innovations in control/operation and connectivity. There are currently three trims: SE, Sport and M Sport.

The car is bigger than its predecessor having stretched by 76mm to 4,709mm in length, by 16mm to 1,827mm in width and by 11mm to 1,440mm in height.

The wheelbase has also been extended by 41mm to 2,851mm, plus 43mm added to the front track (1,587 mm) and 21mm to the rear track (1,604mm).

Unsurprisingly, the Touring model matches the nose of the new BMW 3 Series Saloon, with a large BMW kidney grille, slim twin headlights and a jutting front apron.

Roof rails are standard on all models and finished in either Black Matte (SE trim) or Black High-gloss Shadow Line (Sport, M Sport and M Sport Plus Edition).

The cabin gets a fairly standard 3 Series refresh, with a driver-focused cockpit, new instrument cluster and control display.

BMW says the range of standard and optional interior trim elements available for the instrument panel and centre console has been replaced almost in full. SE and Sport models come with Black High Gloss trim, and M Sport customers have a choice of two aluminium trims as well as a selection of modern open pore wood trims. Customers choosing the M Sport Plus Edition get an exclusive Aluminium Fabric high-gloss trim.

Customers will also get newly designed seats, with more space in the front and rear, and there’s a good sound system to keep your tunes crucial, and a great one if you want to fork out extra for it.

The BMW Live Cockpit with Professional radio is fitted as standard featuring six speakers with an output of 100 watts. A Harman/Kardon surround sound system, complete with 16 speakers and a digital seven-channel amplifier delivering 464 watts of audio power is available as a single option, or as part of the Technology package.

The boot is always a talking point in estate cars.  The Touring comes with an adjustable automatic tailgate as standard and there’s an optional Comfort Access system for hands-free opening and closing, too.

A handy touch is that the rear window opens separately – and automatically - allowing smaller objects to be placed in the boot.

Boot capacity is 500 litres – five litres more than its predecessor – extended to 1,500 litres when the split folding seats are lowered.

A nice, although optional, touch is an automatically-operated trailer coupling that extends and retracts again electrically.

The engine choices are always significant in a new Beemer, and BMW hasn’t held back here. The 3 Series Touring comes with eight available at launch: three petrol and five diesels.

The BMW 320d Touring and BMW 318d Touring models are mated to the latest-generation six-speed manual gearbox as standard, with the most recent version of the eight-speed Steptronic transmission (standard on the other model variants) available as an option.

The intelligent all-wheel-drive system is standard on the range-topping BMW M340i xDrive Touring and available as an option on the 330d xDrive and 320d xDrive models.

The BMW 3 Series Touring is available now at BMW retailers. Those admiring the M Sport Plus Edition trim but holding off for a fully-fledged M3 variant might be disappointed though, as there is speculation this is not on BMW’s to-do list.

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