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First drive: 2023 BMW M3 Touring. Image by BMW.

First drive: 2023 BMW M3 Touring
BMW has finally released an estate version of the BMW M3 super-saloon, but is the wild wagon everything we hoped for?

   



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2023 BMW M3 Touring

5 5 5 5 5

It's finally here. After years of umming and aahing, BMW has got its act together and built an M3 estate. Offering all the performance of its vaunted saloon sibling with an added dose of practicality, the new M3 Competition xDrive Touring has all the ingredients required to become an all-time great, but can it deliver?

Test Car Specifications

Model: 2023 BMW M3 Competition xDrive Touring
Price: 100,150 as tested
Engine: 3.0-litre twin-turbo straight-six petrol
Transmission: eight-speed automatic, all-wheel drive
Power: 510hp
Torque: 650Nm
Emissions: 230-234g/km
Economy: 27.2-27.7mpg
0-62mph: 3.6 seconds
Top speed: 155mph (174mph with M Driver's Package)
Boot space: 500-1,510 litres

Styling

The M3 Competition estate has essentially taken the features of the M3 Competition Saloon and grafted them on to the conventional 3 Series Touring bodywork. That means you get quite a familiar silhouette, but it's adorned with the more aggressive 'Bugs Bunny' kidney grille, a sharp front splitter and aerodynamic door mirrors, as well as a deep rear diffuser with four exhaust outlets. BMW has flared the wheel arches, too, and while the M3 Saloon's double-bubble roof is gone, the Touring still has a carbon-fibre-reinforced plastic roof panel for minimum weight gain.

Interior

To a large extent, the M3 Touring's cabin is identical to that of the Saloon. You get the same high-quality materials and construction, as well as the same M-specific interior upgrades. There's a model-specific gear lever, BMW's trademark blue-and-red stitching and some red switchgear. But there are fewer buttons than there once were, because of the latest-generation 3 Series' Curved Display infotainment system. The single housing, which includes the digital instrument display and touchscreen, offers new and improved menus and more clarity in the screens, while still incorporating the iDrive rotary controller, which makes navigating the screen somewhat less distracting.

However, it isn't all sunshine and rainbows. BMW has elected to get rid of the physical climate control switches, leaving it all in the touchscreen. Normally we'd be lamenting such a decision, and while there's still a bit of that, the BMW system is better than some. The sharpness of the screen and the fact the controls are always accessible makes life a little easier than it otherwise might be.

But what won't make life easy is the bucket seat option, which holds you in place really well but makes getting in and out surprisingly painful. It's also a prime way of ensuring you'll get a numb bum on longer journeys, so it's much better to stick with the standard seats, which are still sporty but slightly more padded.

Practicality

Despite the performance and the all-wheel-drive system, the M3 Competition xDrive Touring is every bit as practical as the conventional 3 Series Touring. You still get a 500-litre boot, which isn't especially impressive, but it's plenty big enough, and you get seating for four adults. Admittedly, choosing the carbon-fibre bucket seats will impinge on rear legroom slightly, but that's also true of the M3 Saloon and the estate offers more rear headroom. As a result, it isn't the most capacious estate out there, but it's still perfectly usable as a family car.

Performance

The M3 Competition Touring has the same engine as the saloon, which means you get a 3.0-litre straight-six producing 510hp and an eight-speed automatic gearbox. Unlike the four-door car, though, the estate gets BMW's xDrive all-wheel-drive system as standard. Although you can switch it to rear-wheel drive using the customisation systems, it's all-wheel-drive as standard, and that means you get better traction in all weathers. As a result, the M3 Touring gets from 0-62mph in 3.6 seconds, which is three tenths faster than the rear-drive M3 Saloon, but a tenth slower than the all-wheel-drive saloon. The top speed is, of course, 155mph, but you can upgrade to the M Driver's Package to unlock a top end of 180mph.

The result is, predictably, astounding performance. Even a brief tickle of the accelerator pedal will leave most cars in the dust, and flooring it gives you a supercar-style shove in the back. It's laugh-out-loud fast, and there's a lovely snarl from that six-cylinder engine. But it isn't what you'd call efficient. Official economy of just over 27mpg doesn't bode well, but you might get a little closer to 30mpg on a long run. And it's best you don't ask about CO2 emissions...

Ride & Handling

As the M3 Touring is carrying an extra 85kg over the all-wheel-drive M3 Competition Saloon, you might expect it to feel a little more cumbersome in corners. If you concentrate quite hard, you might notice the rear end pull itself up and out of bends very slightly more than the saloon would, but it's a very minor difference. Ninety-nine per cent of the time you won't notice at all. Instead, you get to enjoy the fantastic steering feel, the impressive body control and the immense levels of grip. Sure, it feels a little bit slack in Comfort mode, but set the chassis to Sport or Sport Plus and the car really comes alive, darting between corners. Even if you really chuck it in, body roll is minimal and grip is biblical. It's a great car to drive. Leave the suspension in Comfort mode, though, and the car rides commendably, even if it's still a little bit stiff at low speeds. But while it's only tolerable around town, the high-speed ride is much more like it, and on the motorway the M3 will glide over all but the very worst bumps.

Value

M3 estate prices start at 86,365, which makes the estate 2,500 more expensive than the equivalent, all-wheel-drive M3 Competition Saloon. That looks like good value when you consider the increase in space, but remember the Audi RS 4 Avant is almost as quick, just as well built and almost 20,000 cheaper. That said, the M3 Competition is much newer, and its single trim level comes with plenty of standard kit. Black leather upholstery and metallic paint are standard, along with the massive touchscreen and digital instrument display. You get heated seats, climate control and a Harman/Kardon sound system as standard, too.

Verdict

We have absolutely no hesitation in handing out five stars for the M3 Competition xDrive Touring. It may not be quite as sharp as the four-door M3 in corners, but it comes mighty close and it's more user-friendly more of the time. With practicality and performance in spades, it's the ultimate all-rounder, and one of the best cars on sale right now.



James Fossdyke - 9 Mar 2023



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2023 BMW M3 Competition xDrive Touring. Image by BMW.2023 BMW M3 Competition xDrive Touring. Image by BMW.2023 BMW M3 Competition xDrive Touring. Image by BMW.2023 BMW M3 Competition xDrive Touring. Image by BMW.2023 BMW M3 Competition xDrive Touring. Image by BMW.

2023 BMW M3 Competition xDrive Touring. Image by BMW.2023 BMW M3 Competition xDrive Touring. Image by BMW.2023 BMW M3 Competition xDrive Touring. Image by BMW.2023 BMW M3 Competition xDrive Touring. Image by BMW.







 

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