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First drive: BMW 330d xDrive Touring. Image by BMW.

First drive: BMW 330d xDrive Touring
BMW is back with a new 3 Series Touring. Is it still the best all-rounder you can buy?

 



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BMW 330d xDrive Touring

4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5

Diesel power might make this new BMW 330d Touring a touch unfashionable, but it still means it has a brilliant combination of performance, parsimony, practicality and poise.

Test Car Specifications

Model tested: BMW 330d xDrive Touring M Sport
Pricing: 43,065 as tested; starts at 35,235
Engine: 3.0-litre inline-six turbodiesel
Transmission: eight-speed automatic, four-wheel drive
Body style: five-door, five-seat estate
CO2 emissions: 140g/km (VED Band 131-150: 530 in year one)
Combined economy: 52.3mpg
Top speed: 155mph
0-62mph: 5.4 seconds
Power: 265hp at 4,000rpm
Torque: 580Nm at 1,750-2,750rpm
Boot space: 500-1,510 litres

What's this?

This is the new BMW 3 Series Touring, and that means it's perfect. Well, certainly the received wisdom is that the estate version of BMW's evergreen sports saloon, with us these past 32 years, has always had that sweet-spot combination of practicality, desirability, performance and price. Mind you, it's got some serious competition these days, from the likes of the recently updated Mercedes C-Class Estate and Audi A4 Avant, not to mention the marauding hordes of SUVs. So, what has BMW done to keep the 3 Series Touring at the top of its class?

Well, obviously, it's based this new Touring on the new 3 Series chassis and platform, and that brings some significant benefits. It's got a longer wheelbase for a start compared to the old one (up by 41mm), and the boot is also bigger. Well, a little bit bigger - just five extra litres to be exact, bringing the total to 500 litres, or 1,510 litres if you fold the back seats flat. That's a fraction behind the Audi A4 Avant, but actually significantly better than the Mercedes C-Class Estate.

As far as practicality goes, all new 3 Series Tourings get standard roof rails, a powered tailgate and space under the boot floor to stash the luggage cover when it's not needed. More importantly, it also keeps the separate opening tailgate glass, which is handy when you just want to chuck small items into the boot. That glass is also larger than before, which is handy for both loading and for rear visibility.

Other updates include the latest iDrive system, which now comes with a dash-cam function that records the last 40 seconds of what the surround-view parking cameras saw. There's also the 'Hey, BMW' digital voice control assistant, a new head-up display and more connected, online services.

Style-wise, the 3 Series Touring manages to present with cleaner lines than those of the somewhat clunky-looking saloon. The rear end is noticeably more handsome, although that sharp kick-up in the rear pillar does look a little derivative of the Volvo V60. Still, you'd be hard-pressed not to think of this as being rather desirable.

How does it drive?

Quite brilliantly, but then you'd expect that from the way the saloon 3 Series drives. The Touring gets the same suspension setup, so there are new hydraulic bump stops that, theoretically, smooth out the suspension's movements at the extreme ends of wheel travel. You can have adaptive dampers on M Sport models, and higher-powered engines get the option of an extra M differential between the rear wheels, for added poise - and the occasional naughty powerslide.

With that setup, from a chassis perspective, the Touring is just an utter delight to drive. With the biggest diesel engine and xDrive four-wheel drive, it's not light - 1,800kg at the kerb - but you'd hardly notice it. Through long, sweeping turns the Touring stays glued to your chosen apex, and is sweetly adjustable even as the cornering forces build. The steering is exceptional - perfectly weighted and brimming over with feel and feedback.

The only criticism from a dynamic point of view is the ride quality. In spite of those hydraulic bump-stops, the ride is still quite fidgety, even on the ultra-smooth German tarmac of our test drive. Possibly playing around a little with specs and wheel sizes might help.

On the engine front, it's hard to fault the 330d's six-cylinder other than acknowledging the fact that both public opinion and legislation are slowly pushing diesel out of the zone of acceptability. While we know precisely why this is the case (cheating, NOx emissions, air quality) it seems somehow perverse that engineering this good is being side-lined, especially if it really is capable of hitting its mandated emissions limits, as BMW claims it is.

Refinement is exceptional, such as a four-cylinder engine could never provide. The engine's muscle is certainly not lacking, as the 5.4-second 0-62mph time attests. It feels fast, and it keeps pulling right to the 4,000rpm power peak, while a massive 580Nm of torque means that its responsiveness is not in doubt. All that and 50mpg? We'll seriously miss engines such as this when they're gone...

Verdict

Diesel dilemma apart, it's all-but impossible to fault the new 3 Series Touring. I guess it's not exactly cheap, and you will have to shell out extra for some of the choicer options, but the fundamentals - those of chassis poise, cabin quality, space, practicality and performance - are all straight out of the top drawer. Perfection is a dangerous word to use in professional car reviewing, but we're dangerously close to breaking it out.

4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 Exterior Design

4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 Interior Ambience

4 4 4 4 4 Passenger Space

4 4 4 4 4 Luggage Space

4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 Safety

4 4 4 4 4 Comfort

5 5 5 5 5 Driving Dynamics

5 5 5 5 5 Powertrain


Neil Briscoe - 28 Jul 2019









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2020 BMW 330d xDrive M Sport Touring. Image by BMW.2020 BMW 330d xDrive M Sport Touring. Image by BMW.2020 BMW 330d xDrive M Sport Touring. Image by BMW.2020 BMW 330d xDrive M Sport Touring. Image by BMW.2020 BMW 330d xDrive M Sport Touring. Image by BMW.

2020 BMW 330d xDrive M Sport Touring. Image by BMW.2020 BMW 330d xDrive M Sport Touring. Image by BMW.2020 BMW 330d xDrive M Sport Touring. Image by BMW.2020 BMW 330d xDrive M Sport Touring. Image by BMW.2020 BMW 330d xDrive M Sport Touring. Image by BMW.








 

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