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BMW goes Touring again

Five-door BMW 3 Series Touring revealed and confirmed for Australia

12 Jun 2019

THE second shoe has dropped in the BMW 3 Series roll-out with the emergence of the new-generation Touring wagon, eight months after the seventh-generation sedan was unveiled at the 2018 Paris motor show.


For the first time, the bigger and sportier Touring will get a plug-in hybrid 330e variant from 2020, in some markets at least.


BMW has confirmed that the Touring will be shipped to Australia from the company’s Munich plant where production is scheduled to start in late September ahead of a local showroom debut in October.


The public will get its first look at the new Touring in the flesh at BMW Group’s #NextGen event in Germany later this month when it will line up alongside a raft of new models including the all-new 8 Series coupe and convertible.


Like the current Touring in Australia, the new 3 Series wagon can be expected to have fewer powertrain choices than the sedan which sells in far greater numbers. Just two four-cylinder petrol variants – 320i and 330i – are currently listed for sale in the five-door 3 Series in Australia, priced from $63,400 plus on-road costs.


By contrast, the sedan – which was launched in Australia in March – will have about five powertrain choices, ranging from 320d diesel to six-cylinder petrol M340i xDrive, once the progressive rollout of the standard model is completed in a year or so.


Built on the same new advanced CLAR architecture as the latest 3 Series sedan and other rear-wheel-drive BMW models of recent times, the Touring is 76mm longer than before at 4709mm, as well as 16mm wider (1827mm) and 8mm taller (1470mm).


It sits on a bigger footprint, thanks to a wheelbase that has been stretched by 41mm to 2851mm – the same as the sedan – and wider track at both the front (+43mm) and rear (+21mm).


Body rigidity is said to have been improved by 25 per cent, while headroom has been increased in all five seating positions, along with front-seat shoulder room.


The Touring is lighter than before – about 10kg – but also more aerodynamic, at 0.27Cd.


The wider tailgate – now standard with electric operation – reveals a wider boot that is can now hold 500 litres of cargo (+5L). This grows to 1510L (+10L) by folding the 40:20:40 rear seat backrest with the push of a button at the back of the vehicle.


As before, the rear window in the tailgate can be opened separately for loading smaller items.


Hands-free tailgate opening is available via a Comfort Access option, while anti-slip floor rails in the boot are also available for extra cost.


In Europe, the Touring will be launched with three petrol and three diesel engine choices, mirroring the sedan range.


Four-cylinder, 2.0-litre petrol engines start with the 135kW 320i, rise to the 190kW 330i and top out with the 275kW inline six-cylinder M340i xDrive.


Diesels are the 110kW 318d, 140kW 320d and six-cylinder 195kW 330d.


All of the variants come with an eight-speed automatic transmission, although, for Europe, a six-speed manual gearbox will be available with the two four-cylinder diesels.


In the variant most likely for Australia – the 330i – fuel consumption is said to be 6.4-6.0 litres per 100km on the European combined test cycle.


Although BMW has not spelled out details of the PHEV powertrain destined for the Touring, it is expected to be the same unit to be launched globally in the sedan in the middle of this year.


The powertrain matches a 135kW 2.0-litre petrol engine with a 50kW electric motor for a combined output of 185kW and 420Nm. An extra shot of performance can be summoned up by an XtraBoost function that delivers up to 30kW of extra power briefly.


A 12kWh lithium-ion battery provides up to 60km of electric driving.


LED lights are now standard front and rear, but customers can upgrade to the fancier BMW Laserlight headlights.


Despite larger overall proportions, BMW claims the Touring has a noticeable improvement in agility and “a persuasively comfortable ride”, thanks to the increase in body stiffness, more rigid chassis mounts and continuously variable dampers that are now standard across the range.


Keen drivers can tick the box for two forms of M Sport suspension – the standard sports variety or the Adaptive M version.


The Touring comes in four specifications – Advantage, Sport Line, Luxury Line and M Sport.


Safety systems include autonomous emergency braking with pedestrian and cyclist detection, speed limit information, no-passing alert and lane departure warning.


BMW 3 Series sales in Australia have jumped since the recent arrival in showrooms of the new-generation sedan, with 266 rolling out in May – a lift of 35.7 per cent on the corresponding month last year.


However, the mid-sized Beemer still trails its arch rival, the Mercedes-Benz C-Class, by a factor of about two to one, with the C-Class recording 2886 sales so far in 2019 compared with the 3 Series’ 1040.

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