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BMW boots up 3 Series Touring Mk6. Image by BMW.

BMW boots up 3 Series Touring Mk6
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What's all this about?

It's our first look at the sixth-generation BMW 3 Series Touring. And no, we've not lost the plot; the original E21 3 Series of the 1970s and early 1980s never had a wagon variant, so while there have been seven generations of the Three - culminating in the G20 3 Series Saloon, upon which this new Touring is based - there have only been six estate variants in that time.

Fascinating, but can we get back to business?

Fair enough. As ever in the modern car world, the new Touring is bigger and better - says its maker - than the old Touring. Physically, the first part of this claim is indubitably true: it's 76mm longer, 16mm wider, 8mm taller, has a 41mm longer wheelbase and front and rear tracks that are 43- and 21mm broader, respectively. All this means more space on board for humans (more shoulder-, elbow-, leg- and headroom is promised, as is the ability for the rear bench to take three child seats across its form) and also cargo, in a boot that stands at 500 litres with all five chairs in action and 1,510 litres with the 40:20:40 split rear backrest folded down. These are increases of a mere five and ten litres over its predecessor, but - usefully - the new Three Touring has a boot aperture that's 125mm wider than before, leading onto a load bed that's up to 112mm wider in places. Even the rear screen is wider by 20mm... and yes, like any BMW Touring since the dawn of time, the glass opens separately to the hatch.

Is that all on the physical form?

Absolutely not, although we'll skip much of the exterior aesthetics and interior layout, for these reasons: one, the bodywork is a G20 Three with a nicer rear end, as is always the way because Tourings trump Saloons in the BMW beauty stakes; and two, the dashboard layout and the tech that's on offer - both in terms of comfort and safety - is the same as the four-door Threes. So what we'll touch on are a few visual points, which are the upswept shoulder line behind the C-pillar that forms the Hofmeister kink (this raked glass being new to the Three Touring), the fully LED light clusters all round and the more aerodynamic bodywork, which slips through the air with a 0.27Cd rating, compared to the outgoing model's best of 0.29Cd. Perhaps more pertinently, the Touring's shell has at least 25 per cent more torsional rigidity than the old model and is, in places, up to half as resistant to twist again as its predecessor. This will help all manner of things: handling sharpness, ride comfort and rolling refinement, namely. Oh, and the weight balance? Why, it's 50:50, front-to-rear. What else were you expecting of BMW?

Very good. What about motive power?

Six models from launch, which are the 320i, 330i and M340i for petrol power, and then the 318d, 320d and 330d for the diesels. Only the biggest of each fuel type can claim inline-six honours; the rest are all four-cylinder turbo units. Power ranges from 184- to 374hp on the petrol engines, and 150- to 265hp for the diesels, with gearboxes being either a six-speed manual or the much-more-common eight-speed Steptronic auto. Most of the launch models are rear-driven, but both the M340i (which also has 500Nm of torque) and the 330d come with xDrive all-wheel drive as standard, while both the 320d and 330i can be optioned up with it if needs be. Expect fuel economy between 65.7mpg (320d) and 39.8mpg (M340i), with the lowest CO2 emissions per model ranging from 114g/km up to 162g/km. Almost all of them will hit an electronic speed limiter at 155mph, the exceptions being the 320i/320d (both 143mph) and the 318d (133mph), while 0-62mph takes as much as 8.9 seconds in a manual 318d and as little as a scorching 4.5 seconds in the M340i. BMW has also confirmed the Three Touring will have the cornering abilities to match its straight-line power, as all of M Sport suspension with a lower ride height, Adaptive M suspension, variable Sport steering, M Sport brakes and an electronically controlled M Sport differential with fully variable locking function will be available to purchasers.

Sounds good. Is that it for the 2019 launch models?

It is indeed, but we already have confirmation of a plug-in hybrid 3 Series Touring, due in for summer 2020. As yet, we don't know if this will be a four-cylinder drivetrain, as employed in the old 330e, or the new six-pot part-electric gubbins, which is finding its way into current BMW PHEVs like the 745e.

Anything else to add?

Yes, one final thing. In the UK, we get our own high-spec version of the 3 Series Touring, called M Sport Plus Edition. It sits above the usual trim hierarchy of SE, Sport and then M Sport, and bundles in some desirable extra kit and options. Such as, there are two solid and nine metallic colour choices elsewhere in the range, but there are three exclusive paints for the M Sport Plus Edition cars: Dravit Grey, Tanzanite Blue and Oxide Grey. The cabin is enhanced with Aluminium Fabric high-gloss trim inserts, while it will come with sun-protect glazing, Adaptive M Sport suspension, Extended BMW individual High-Gloss Shadow Line exterior trim, M Seat Belts (snazzy!), the M Sport Braking system (on the 320d variants) and the M Sport Differential (on the 330i and 330d models). Buyers will also get black door mirror caps and exclusive Jet Black 19-inch M light double-spoke alloys, and M Sport Plus Edition spec is available on every Touring going bar the range-topping M340i. First customer deliveries of any variant of the Three wagon will begin in the UK at the end of September.

Matt Robinson - 11 Jun 2019

2020 BMW 3 Series Touring. Image by BMW.2020 BMW 3 Series Touring. Image by BMW.2020 BMW 3 Series Touring. Image by BMW.2020 BMW 3 Series Touring. Image by BMW.2020 BMW 3 Series Touring. Image by BMW.

2020 BMW 3 Series Touring. Image by BMW.2020 BMW 3 Series Touring. Image by BMW.2020 BMW 3 Series Touring. Image by BMW.2020 BMW 3 Series Touring. Image by BMW.2020 BMW 3 Series Touring. Image by BMW.    - BMW road tests
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