While plenty was already known about the first BMW M3 Touring – the Nurburgring time, the powertrain and which bits are 3D printed – the full debut and all associated details are still jolly exciting. Not least because we finally get to see it in all its M-enhanced glory. Naturally the Touring is equipped with everything we’d expect of an M car: four 100mm exhausts, pumped up arches, plenty of carbon bits, the grilles…
Yep, there’s nothing to be tremendously surprised by in how the M3 Touring looks, combining the handsome rear endof the G21 3 Series Touring with the more divisive front end of the G80/2 M3/M4. The details are certainly interesting, though, as this is quite a lot bigger than the regular 3 Series wagon. At 4,794mm the M3 is 85mm longer, and 1,903mm is 76mm wider than the standard car. It’s 1,436mm high – or 4mm lower.
The roof will be high gloss black as standard (presumably to look like the carbon on both the coupe and saloon), with a body-coloured option available; the roof rails – on an M3! – are high gloss black. Though not typically a big concern for an M car, it seems appropriate to mention boot space here: the Touring offers 500 litres with the seats up, or 1,510 with them down. Hopefully a roofbox can get on those rails easily.
BMW talks of a high gloss black band around the car, from front spoiler through sills and rear apron. Certainly the Touring hasn’t been spared any of the M3 hallmarks, carrying over the M-specific mirrors, side gills, aero flics and diffuser. The familiar wheels, 19-inch at the front and 20-inch behind, are also fitted, and Touring buyers will be offered the same Cup 2 tyre and ceramic brake upgrades as for the existing models. Which would cause quite the stir at a track day.
Certainly there’ll be no holding anyone up on circuit, the M3 Touring boasting the same 510hp/479lb ft 3.0-litre twin-turbo straight six as the coupe and saloon. Paired to the eight-speed auto and standard xDrive, the Touring will hit 62mph in 3.6 seconds (just one tenth off the coupe), 124mph in 12.9 seconds and a 155mph maximum; a 174mph limiter raise is optionally available.
The same trick chassis bits we’ve already become accustomed to – M Traction control, the drift analyser, 2WD mode and configurable everything – are present and correct. As a reminder (it’s been a good few months since there’s been a new M3 derivative), that means variable ratio M Servotronic steering with Comfort and Sport modes, Adaptive M suspension, the M Steptronic with three settings for both manual and auto modes, the M Mode button with Road, Sport and Track presets for the driver assistance, powertrain options and two settings for whichever brake setup you go for. (No wonder they all end up so heavy.)
The hidden bits that make a 3 Series into an M3 will contribute to that total as well (BMW hasn’t yet quoted a kerbweight), with the same upgraded hardware as two- and four-door. So the Touring has its torsional rigidity increased with ‘specific strengthening links’ connecting the strut towers with each other, the nose and the bulkhead, an aluminium shear panel to bulk up the front subframe, additional bracing from front to rear plus a bespoke (and rigidly mounted) rear axle subframe. With a more aggressive setup (camber, castor, kingpin angle) plumbed in to take advantage, the M3 Touring will “maximise lateral dynamic ability while still ensuring well-resolved ride comfort.”
So far, so M3. What marks the Touring out, beyond the obvious shape difference, is the new look interior. The updated cabin will make it to the rest of the range, though this car (and its Goodwood debut on Thursday) will be the best look at it yet. There’s now a 12.3-inch BMW Curved Display for the driver, with a 14.9-inch infotainment screen; the two of them merge “into a single fully digital and high-resolution unit behind a frameless glass surface angled towards the driver. It’s powered by BMW Operating System 8.
Perhaps those expecting a spec surprise or two will be marginally disappointed, but the combination of perhaps the best sports saloon out there right now with an estate body ought to be enough for most. Especially with a dearth of opposition. Lest we forget, the AMG C63 is no more (at least until the four-cylinder replacement arrives) and the current RS4 is at the end of its life (with the run-out Competition model soon to land). The M3 Touring will cost £80,550, which is actually less than the BMW configurator currently says a saloon retails at – £80,970. It’s almost like they want the Touring to be as popular as possible. The car officially goes on sale in September; if everyone else is anything like us, expect there to be many, many people desperate to get hold of one.