Contrary to popular belief, there is enough room in a compact-sized station wagon for two kids, a dog and parents who still enjoy the driving experience of a car.
We’re not dissing BMW’s lineup of sport-utility vehicles, but a wagon is fun to drive, practical and quite stylish, too. For those who still cherish these values, the BMW 3 Series Touring is a compelling choice, and has been for a long time now. With the Volvo V60, the Audi A4 allroad as well as the return of the Mercedes-Benz C-Class Wagon in Canada, this minuscule market segment is hanging on despite the popularity of high-riding SUVs.
Two versions of the BMW are offered. The 328d gets a turbo-diesel, 2.0-litre four that develops 184 hp and 280 lb-ft of torque. However, we drove the gasoline-powered variant that’s equipped with a turbo 2.0-litre four that dishes out 241 hp as well as 258 lb-ft that peaks from 1,250 to 4,800 rpm. Sadly for driving enthusiasts, a manual gearbox is no longer available in the wagon; an eight-speed automatic is the only way to go, as is standard all-wheel drive.
Although the diesel engine consumes less fuel with a combined rating of 6.8 L/100 km versus 8.9 for its gas counterpart, the latter is a muscular piece of machinery, although a little rough compared to some competitors’ similar powertrains – the one in the Mercedes-Benz C-Class, notably. In addition to a 0-100 km/h sprint the company estimates at 6.3 seconds, we observed an average fuel economy of 8.3 L/100 km during our test, which included a back-and-forth trip from Montreal to Toronto.
Cargo space in the Touring varies from 495 litres with all five seats occupied to a maximum volume of 1,500 litres behind the first row. The rear seatback splits in three sections, so four occupants can travel with their skis inside the car by flipping the middle backrest portion. The 3 Series wagon is almost as accommodating as a BMW X3.
For the rest, this is pure 3 Series sportiness, which gets suspension tweaks for 2016 in order to address criticism that the sixth-generation car had gotten a little soft. Personally, that didn’t mind me at all. The optional Adaptive M Suspension on our tester did a fine job of blending ride comfort and handling sharpness, and makes for an enjoyable daily driver.
The 2016 BMW 328i Touring starts at $48,050 before freight and delivery charges, a few hundred dollars more than an Audi A4 allroad and a few grand more than a Volvo V60 T5 AWD. Our loaded tester cost upwards of $56K. That obviously isn’t a screaming deal. An X3 costs about as much, but getting an SUV instead of a wagon is what everybody else does. Why not be different?