New BMW 3 Series Touring (2019-present)

BMW’s brilliant new 3 Series Touring offers more space and practicality for families or those with regular loads to lug

Strengths & Weaknesses

Strengths 

The exciting drive of a 3 Series remains
Up to 1,510 litres storage space
Lots of powertrain options

Weaknesses 

It is bigger than ever before
No hybrid option yet
There are cheaper rivals
BMW 3 Series Touring prices from £17,149   Finance from £230 per month

The estate body style may have fallen out of fashion, replaced by the high-riding, imposing stance of an SUV, but there is still very little that can beat the comfort, versatility and load space of these elongated machines.

BMW has been producing a Touring version of its all-conquering 3 Series for 32 years now and the German marque shows no sign of relenting to changing consumer trends. Why should it? Seeing as more than 1.7 million examples of the 3 Series Touring have hit the roads since its inception in 1987, with the new car’s immediate predecessor accounting for more than 500,000 of these.

With a potential load capacity of over 1,500-litres, a trademark easy access rear hatch window, easy folding rear seats and all manner of rear compartment luggage hooks and stowage solutions, the newest 3 Series Touring is an excellent choice for those burgeoning families with buggies, kids and dogs to transport, or simply the owner that requires a sleek, comfortable and luxurious set of wheels in which to transport bicycles, surfboards and other extreme sports accoutrements.

The 3 Series Touring will happily swallow them all and the latest generation benefits from the new engine and chassis technology that has won its saloon sibling so many plaudits, as well as increased rear legroom, a lighter overall weight, improved interior acoustic properties and a suite of cutting-edge technology that now includes an advanced parking camera system and built-in dash cam functionality.

But above all else, BMW is a name synonymous with driving dynamics and its engineers are keen to ensure the sparkling handling and engaging drive of its saloon counterpart isn’t lost here. To do so, they have tweaked the chassis and suspension to be able to cope with the potential extra weight in the rear.

It its firmer than some rivals but this can be mitigated by opting for the more standard suspension set-up found in entry-level SE models, especially when paired with the smaller 17-inch wheels. On the other hand, M Sport models feature a bespoke adaptive suspension system, which can be altered on the move with the press of a button.

These models tend to ride on the largest alloy wheels and will feel overtly firm and sporting to anyone who is coming from more relaxed rivals, but this will suit anyone who appreciates the art of cornering at speed. Despite its estate body style, the most potent 3 Series Touring perform like sports cars.

There is a heady mix of powertrain options on the table, including smaller petrols that range from 184hp all the way up to 374hp in the most powerful, all-wheel drive M340i xDrive. Sorry fast fans, there’s no word on an M3 Touring just yet.

Diesel is also covered, with the latest generation of engines returning as much as 65.7mpg on the combined cycle and emitting as little as 118g/km of CO2. A plug-in hybrid version, which can be option on the saloon model now, is due to come in the summer of 2020.

Inside, there’s the full gamut of touchscreen infotainment system, digital instrument binnacles, connected services and the sort of cutting-edge smart technology that we’ve come to expect from premium brands like BMW.

The overall fit and finish inside is also excellent, with the option to specify materials, stitching and inlays that elevate this 3 Series up to levels typically enjoyed by 5 and even 7 Series owners.

Last Updated 

Friday, August 9, 2019 - 15:15

Key facts 

Warranty: 
Three-years / Unlimited miles
Boot size: 
500 litres
Width: 
1,827mm
Length: 
4,709mm
Height: 
1,440mm
Tax: 
From £170 to £530 in the first year, £145 to £465 thereafter

Best BMW 3 Series for... 

BMW 318d SE
The smallest diesel engine in the range is by far the most economical, returning an impressive 65.7mpg. It also costs the least in this entry-level SE guise.
BMW 330i Sport
Not and overtly performance orientated as M Sport models, this Sport lines adds plenty of additional niceties to the spec sheet, while the mid-range petrol engine is quiet, smooth, responsive and impressively frugal.
BMW M340i xDrive
About as potent as a 3 Series Touring gets without a full fat M3 Touring model on the horizon. Stiff suspension, sharp handling and plenty of power on tap for speedy drivers.
One to avoid: BMW 320i SE
The entry level petrol engine feels a bit underpowered, especially when hauling big loads in the rear. Stepping up to the 320d diesel model adds more torque and makes for a better load lugger.

BMW 3 Series History 

  • 1987 The first 3 Series generation to come with the option of a convertible or Touring model was the E30, first released in 1982, with an estate following in 1987.
  • 1990 BMW changed design direction slightly, offering a more coupe-like exterior to the E36 generation of cars
  • 1998 The E46 is introduced with a larger overall footprint and increased roominess inside. Naturally, a Touring model is also offered.
  • 2005 The design team took inspiration from the sport Z4 when piecing together the E90 generation, which featured lots of curvy elements and a refreshed grille.
  • 2011 The predecessor to his generation is now fairly long in the tooth, with the F30 generation dating back to 2011. Still, there are plenty of used Touring bargains to be had.

Understanding BMW 3 Series car names 

  • 3 Series
  • Trim
    Sport
  • Body style
    5 Door
  • Engine
    Four-cylinder in-line petrol
  • Gearbox
    8 Speed Steptronic
  • Trim
    There are three trim levels on offer in the UK, with the range starting at SE and moving through to Sport and M Sport. However, there are plenty of options for customers to select from.
  • Body style
    The 3 Series comes in both estate (dubbed Touring) and saloon variants. Plug-in hybrid technology is only currently available on saloon body styles.
  • Engine
    All petrol engines will be suffixed with ‘i’, while diesels are badged ‘d’. BMW offers both four and six-cylinder options across its petrol and diesel range. The more cylinders, the more powerful the engine.
  • Gearbox
    Although a six-speed manual gearbox is offered with some of the lower powered diesel engines, customers namely get the choice of an eight-speed ‘Steptronic’ automatic ‘box.

BMW 3 Series Engines 

Four-cylinder petrol, six-cylinder petrol, Four-cylinder diesel and six-cylinder diesel

All of the engines across the latest 3 Series range have been adapted and tweaked so they are now quieter, loss polluting and more fuel efficient than ever. The petrol engines are especially quiet, with nothing but a mere whisper entering the cabin when idling or cruising around town.

The M340i is both the punchiest and most vocal in the range, its in-line six-cylinder layout offering a lovely exhaust note as the revs climb and the sort of performance that will certainly sate the appetite of anyone who likes to cross continents in a hasty fashion.

At the other end of the spectrum we have the 320i, which kick-starts the range and feels a tad underpowered with its 184hp output, especially if you plan to load the Touring to the gunwales on a regular basis.

Instead, we’d suggest stepping up slightly to the 320d, which has more pulling power and is equally impressive in terms of its quietness and refinement. Plus, it returns over 60mpg if driver sensibly over long distances.

Models suffixed with xDrive feature the marque’s all-wheel-drive system, which offers extra peace of mind in slippery conditions. A powerful, rear-drive car in the frost or snow can be a very tricky thing to wrangle.

Most engines come paired with the marque’s excellent eight-speed ‘Steptronic’ automatic gearbox, which shifts cogs seamlessly and smoothly. There’s also the option to use the paddle shifters mounted behind the steering wheel to manually change gear.

A six-speed manual gearbox comes as standard on the 318d and 320d models and its slick action and snappy change makes it a joy to use, but it is still possible to option the automatic ‘box on any 3 Series Touring. 

Model

Fuel

Maximum Power (hp)

Acceleration (zero to 62mph)

Top Speed (mph)

Fuel economy (mpg)*

CO2 emissions (g/km)

320i

Petrol

184

7.6

143

44.8-48.7

144-133

330i

Petrol

258

5.9

155

44.1-47.1

146-136

M340i xDrive

Petrol

374

4.5

155

37.7-39.8

170-162

318d

Diesel

150

8.9 (8.8)

134 (133)

60.1-65.7

129-118

320d

Diesel

190

7.5 (7.1)

142 (143)

58.9-64.2

125-119

320d xDrive

Diesel

190

7.4

140

57.6-61.4

129-121

330d xDrive

Diesel

265

5.4

155

50.4-52.3

146-140

BMW 3 Series Trims 

SE, Sport, M Sport and M Sport Plus

Trim levels in the UK follow a much simpler format than those found in the rest of Europe, with SE, Sport, M Sport and M Sport Plus Edition available at launch.

In short, the SE versions are those with the least additional niceties, including the much firmer but more dynamic adaptive M Sport suspension system, that automatically adapts to the different driving mode.

In our opinion, the 3 Series Touring rides extremely well on its stand suspension and the SE models also boast the smaller 17-inch wheels, which aren’t the most aesthetically pleasing of the bunch but  certainly make for the most comfortable journey. Other notable standard features at this level include: ambient lighting inside, Parking Assistant with Rear View Camera and Reverse Assist, Sport leather steering wheel and an 8.8-inch Central Instrument Display (CID).

Step up to Sport and a more performance orientated suspension set-up is introduced, as well as larger alloy wheels and racier interior touches, such as sports seats that are heated in the front. 

M Sport models receive the most dynamic M Sport suspension, an M Aerodynamics package to the exterior, Sports Seats, leather upholstery, Adaptive LED headlights and foglights, advanced parking assistance and attractive ambient lighting inside.

A new M Sport Plus package is also exclusive to the UK market and features all of the content from the popular M Sport Plus package including sun protect glazing, Adaptive M Sport suspension, Extended BMW Individual high-gloss Shadow Line, M Seat Belts, M Sport Braking System (320d, 320d xDrive) and an M Sport Differential (330i and 330d xDrive), which improves cornering ability further. 

As with many vehicles in the luxury segment, the option list will prove an extremely tempting (and expensive) read, with things like heated steering wheels, panoramic sunroofs, increased interior storage and an array of alloy wheel options all available for an additional fee.

The Touring model receives a few things as standard though, such as an automatic tailgate, separately opening rear window, a storage compartment for the boot cover and partition net where not in use, and 40:20:40 split/folding rear seats.

This latest generation also boasts one of the most advanced infotainment systems yet, with constantly connected services and apps that do everything from offers I’ve weather forecasts to speech-enabled search of the local area for things like coffee shops and fuel stations.

Arguably one of the most enticing and interesting options comes in the form of Driver Recorder, which harnesses the vehicle’s many exterior cameras (used to assist manoeuvring) to record footage to an internal hard drive, which can then be downloaded via USB for viewing later.

This will come in handy for anyone who likes to capture footage of a country drive for posterity but more importantly, it automatically snares footage 20 seconds before and after the event of collision, acting just like a dash cam, without the need for additional cameras.

In the UK, this comes as part of the Park Assistant Plus Package, which sees multiple camera views beamed to the central display during low speed parking situations, and costs £650. 

BMW 3 Series Reliability and warranty 

The three-year/unlimited mileage warranty is slightly more generous than the 60,000-mile limit imposed by rivals Audi but generally falls in line with most other premium manufacturers in this segment.

Previous generation 3 Series owners seem fairly happy with their purchase, with the Auto Express Driver Power 2019 owner satisfaction survey revealing that the predecessor placed at 39 out of 75 models.

That said, any work that falls foul of the manufacturer warranty could prove costly for those customers thinking of bucking the trend of three-year lease deals and opting for an out-and-out purchase or longer term PCP option.

Used BMW 3 Series 

With 32 years of history under its belt, the 3 Series Touring is an extremely common sight on the used market, with everything from sub-£1k bangers to very well specified previous generation models available to purchase with big discounts.

We found some lovely 2018 M Sport models on the Buy a Car website for as little as £25,000, while some higher mileage 2016 iterants can be secured for around £13,000, although don’t expect these to flaunt the mod cons of the model reviewed here.

Other Editions