If you’ve always assumed that the 3 Series only came in sedan form, here’s a surprise: It’s actually available as a wagon, but it’s just that previously, the official agent (there are now two of them) didn’t bring them in.
The reason for this, I suspect, is purely commercial. Wagons, or estates, are niche models in this market, which is dominated by crossovers and SUVs. If the 3 Series is already well-known as a sedan, then there’s no point in bringing in the Touring variant, which might be harder to move.
The commonly held view is that only enthusiasts and wagon fans like these cars, and since we only make up a tiny fraction of potential buyers, asking for an allocation of units doesn’t make business sense.
However true that statement might be, it is also a fact that there is a market for estates in Singapore, and high COE premiums aside, it is arguably under-served compared to say, European markets.
Forget about the old fogeys who keep pooh-poohing wagons for resembling hearses. They’re not going to change their minds. Instead, the 330i Touring should be made known to open-minded consumers who are seeking drivability and practicality in a handsome package.
Indeed, the 3 Series Touring is a good-looking car, for it shares the stylishness of the Sedan sibling. Designers did a terrific job extending the roof and greenhouse past the C-pillar, for the car looks “complete” and has a sporty stance to boot.
Looks aside, the 3 Series Touring is useful, too. Pop the tailgate and you get a 500-litre boot (rear seats up) with a flat and square load space. Wanna stow your full-size bicycle? Drop the rear backrests and you’ll expand this to 1,510 litres. Said backrests also have 40:20:40 split-folding functionality to further enhance flexibility.
By the way, the tailgate’s glass portion can be opened separately, allowing you to chuck small items into the boot without opening the entire tailgate itself. This is handy if parking is tight, and you can’t open the rear without moving the car forwards.
Also versatile is the 330i Touring’s cockpit. BMW’s Curved Display, housing both the 12.3-inch instrument panel and 14.9-inch infotainment screen, is now fitted here. Getting the hang of it might take some time, though, since the menu is quite extensive, so first-timers will need to do some digging to get to the functions they want.
However, once you have everything – including the mood lighting – dialled in, you won’t need to do more deep dives. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are also on hand, so drivers can sync their devices and use their favourite music and navigation apps.
DYNAMICS AND APPROACHABILITY
The 330i Touring is as fun to drive as its sedan sibling. Don’t be fooled by the extra sheet metal – this is still a 3 Series and unless the world was spinning backwards, it’s unlikely that BMW would have messed up this portion.
Power is provided by a turbocharged 2-litre four-cylinder that’s capable of 242hp between 4500-6500rpm, and 400Nm of torque between 1600-4500rpm. The engine is paired to an 8-speed automatic and lets the estate finish the century sprint in 6.1 seconds.
Apart from being relatively quick, the motor’s strength lies in its tractability. With the full torque figure available over a wide powerband, the 330i Touring always feels capable and ready to pick up the pace when you demand it to.
The wagon moves impressively, too. There’s no clumsiness here, for the steering and suspension work in unison to obey the driver’s inputs, so all you feel is a car that’s in sync with your mind. Its ability to go round corners is obvious as well. Be it long, short, narrow or wide, the 330i Touring is in its element when driven with gusto.
Would the fiery M3 Touring be even better then? Perhaps if you lived next to a racetrack. On public roads it has too much power to put down, so it feels hemmed in. Meanwhile, the 330i Touring’s outputs are just “enough”, so you can stretch it without getting into (too much) trouble. That makes it more usable and enjoyable on a daily basis.
The 3 Series Touring is not only a car that enthusiasts have been waiting for, but also one that consumers may not have realised they wanted all along.
Its combination of practicality, flexibility and performance is an attractive one, and the styling sure doesn’t hurt it either. To me, the only drawbacks are the look of the instrument panel (it’s also too cluttered) and extensive infotainment menu (an update promises to simplify this).
I’d also prefer a wired connection for Apple CarPlay as this doesn’t heat up my phone, but BMW only offers the wireless version, which causes this issue.
Aside from these bugbears, the 330i Touring is all you’d arguably need in a daily driver. If more consumers felt this way, then making wagons part of the local lineup would make a lot of business sense.
BMW 330i Touring M Sport Pro 2.0 (A)
ENGINE 1998cc, 16-valves, inline-4, turbocharged
MAX POWER 242hp at 4500-6500rpm
MAX TORQUE 400Nm at 1600-4500rpm
POWER TO WEIGHT 151.3hp per tonne
GEARBOX 8-speed automatic with manual select
0-100KM/H 6.1 seconds
TOP SPEED 250km/h
CONSUMPTION 13km/L (combined)
PRICE INCL. COE From $366,888
AGENTS Eurokars Auto, Performance Motors Limited