Make / Model Search

Car reviews - BMW - 3 Series - 323i Touring

Our Opinion

We like
A true BMW six-cylinder sedan to drive, style, wagon versatility and practicality
Room for improvement
Detuned 2.5-litre petrol six not the way forward when brilliant BMW diesels abound

28 Jun 2006

WITH only a single model, it seems strange that BMW elects not provide more of a choice in the 3 Series Touring range.

Some may argue that the X3, based on the old E46 3 Series platform, performs much the same duty as a wagon version of Australia’s best-selling compact luxury sedan would.

However,others disagree, pointing to the X3’s divisive styling, wavering cabin quality and very-SUV proportions.

Sometimes all people want is a good old-fashioned station wagon, albeit one with the sort of dynamic, safety and hi-tech levels that only a BMW 3 Series can deliver.

If this is you then the 323i Touring should impress, even if its 130kW 2.5-litre six-cylinder engine is really only a chip away from becoming the 160kW number the considerably more expensive 325i sedan enjoys.

In reality the differences are not really obvious if you do not drive 323i and 325i back-to-back.

A smooth-pinning, sweet-ounding and punchy-only-at-higher-revs BMW in-line six is still there for the taking. It is the very picture of refinement and grace.

Combined with either the weighty but satisfying six-speed manual gearbox or the silky six-speed automatic, the 323i Touring’s performance is very acceptable, if not anywhere near as captivating as the astoundingly good 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbo-diesel 320d sedan.

Now if only BMW would marry parsimonious and powerful diesel with practical and pretty wagon.

Speaking of economy potential, a 12.1 to 12.3L/100km reading was the average over some very hard-driven country roads, when a series of 320d sedans also along the same driving route battled to break past 6.9L/100km barrier.

Nevermind, because – once you find a favourite ribbon of road – the 323i Touring conforms to all BMW sports sedan requirements, delivering sharp and involving handling, superb body control, outstanding grip and security and first-class engineering enjoyment.

This should come as no surprise whatsoever, since there is a real BMW 3 Series lurking underneath.

Be careful though – the M Sport’s larger and lower-profile wheel and tyre package hardened the otherwise supple-riding Touring to an alarming degree.

Being a Touring also raises cargo-carrying expectations, and here – again – the 323i wagon is a BMW blueblood by not being overly cavernous (who would want to ruin the lovely trim anyway, even if a rubberised floor cover is available), but still more practical (and some say handsome) than the E90 sedan.

The detailing also is worth mentioning, with the trick luggage cover/opening rear window disappearing act an entertaining feature. A plethora of cubbyholes should also add to the Touring’s (small) family appeal.

Annoyingly for BMW Australia, releasing the perfectly fine and dazzlingly dynamic 323i Touring at the same time as the diesel sedan simply enhances the latter and raises questions about the former’s place in an increasingly diesel-driven world.

Get past all that, however, and BMW’s latest wagon is a worthy wearer of the Bavarian badge, and the most driver-orientated load carrier this side of the $100,000-plus 530i Touring.

Against the patchy, though far-more extensive and affordable, A4 Avant and ageing C-class rivals, the 323i Touring is definitely the choice.

Still, a memo to BMW: bring the 320d Touring on!

Click to share

Click below to follow us on
Facebook  Twitter  Instagram

GoAuto can help you buy a new 3 Series

Customer Terms and Conditions – New Car Lead enquires


This is an agreement between GoAutoMedia Pty Limited ACN 094 732 457 of PO Box 18, Beach Road, Sandringham, VIC, 3191 (“we/us”), the owner and operator of the GoAuto.com.au website (“the website”) and the person wanting GoAuto.com.au to provide them with a lead for the purchase of a new car (“you”).

By completing a New Car Lead Enquiry, you agree to the terms and conditions and disclaimers and acknowledge the policies set out below.

Terms and Conditions

  • In order for us to effect a lead you must you must complete a New Car Lead Enquiry (“Enquiry”).
  • We will call you as soon as possible after you complete the Enquiry and certainly no later than the next business day. When we call, we will discuss with you your new car requirements.
  • You consent to our passing on the Enquiry and your requirements to an appropriate authorised motor car dealer as a lead.
  • We will contact you again in approximately eight days following your initial enquiry to check on the progress of the Enquiry.
  • While we will provide the dealer with the Enquiry and details of your new car requirements, we take no responsibility for what happens after passing on that material as a lead.
  • You acknowledge that we are a new car information service providing new car editorial information, pictures and prices to our customers as a guide only. Any new car prices published on the website are the manufacturers’ recommended retail prices and do not include delivery charges and on-road costs. Any authorized motor car dealer to which we pass on your Enquiry as a lead will provide you with full details of the price at which the vehicle will be sold to you.
  • You acknowledge that we do not sell motor vehicles. Any sale of a new car to you by a dealer after we have passed on your Enquiry to that dealer as a lead, is a sale by that dealer not by us.

Privacy Policy– New Car Lead Enquires

  • We take privacy very seriously. We understand that you will only complete an Enquiry if you can trust us to protect your personal information and use it appropriately. Our policy is to ensure that the personal information collected when you make an Enquiry is only used for the purposes of connecting you with an authorised motor car dealer.
  • We do not on-sell information collected from you or any other customer.
  • From time to time, we may email you with information or promotions that may be relevant for car buyers. You will continue to receive communications from us unless you tell us that you do not want to receive any advertising or promotional information in the future by unsubscribing from these communications.
* Denotes required field
** Australian inquiries only

3 Series pricing

Motor industry news

GoAutoNews is Australia’s number one automotive industry journal covering the latest news, future and new model releases, market trends, industry personnel movements, and international events.

Catch up on all of the latest industry news with this week's edition of GoAutoNews
Click here