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First look: 3 Series Touring out of the box

The first E90 derivative: BMW’s new mid-sized wagon will come with more cargo space, a near-flat load floor and a flip-up rear window.

BMW reveals its redesigned 3 Series wagon five months ahead of its Frankfurt debut

BMW logo27 Apr 2005

BMW has set an unofficial new record in the battle to achieve maximum new-model exposure by revealing a redesigned 3 Series wagon five months ahead of its public debut at the Frankfurt motor show in September.

While the all-new 3 Series sedan has been launched in Europe and hits Australian showrooms in June, its first derivative – the E90 Touring – willnot arrive here until 2006.

Longer and wider than the E46 3 Series Touring it will replace, BMW’s new mid-sized wagon will come with more cargo space, a near-flat load floor and a flip-up rear window.

Developed in tandem with the sedan, the fourth-generation 3T is 42mm longer (at 4520mm), 78mm wider (1817mm) and 9mm higher (1418mm). The wheelbase increases 35mm to 2760mm.

Identical to the new E90 sedan from the A-pillars forward, the new Touring attempts to deliver a coupe-like profile via a downward-tapering rear roofline, while an upward-tapering shoulder line aims to create a muscular, pincer-like design theme. Thick rear pillars are said to highlight the station wagon’s rear-drive layout.

Underneath, there’s the same double-joint aluminium front axle as seen in the E90 sedan, plus a five-arm rear axle made from lightweight steel which BMW claims enhances wheel guidance and ride comfort.

Basic luggage capacity increases 25 litres to 460 litres and, with the 60/40- split rear seat folded, leaving two seats available, total cargo space grows 40litres to 1385 litres.

The larger new load compartment also features numerous tie-down points, a watertight under-floor storage box and a luggage cover that retracts automatically when the rear window is opened.

14 center imageBMW claims the company’s legendary ride-and-handling balance is ensured by a rear-wheel drivetrain, a relatively long wheelbase with short overhangs and 50/50 weight distribution.

However, the latter – and the larger load area – is achieved in part by adopting run-flat tyres, which means the new 3 Series Touring will come with no spare wheel.

The current 3 Series Touring went on sale here in July 2002 as a single 125kW 2.2-litre six-cylinder 320i variant, which currently retails from $63,200 (five-speed manual) and $65,800 (five-speed semi-auto).

BMW Australia will not divulge local pricing or specifications until closer to launch – meaning any time in the next eight months.

However, the company will be keen to limit further price distancing from key European mid-sized wagon rivals like Volvo’s V50, Alfa Romeo’s 156 Sportwagon and Audi’s recently facelifted A4 Avant.

Pricing should remain below that of the Mercedes-Benz C200 Kompressor Classic, which costs $68,390 and features a 120kW supercharged 1.8-litre four with a five-speed auto.

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