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  • 320d engine\'s impressive efficiency and smooth, easy performance; boot space; automatic tailgate; supple ride or sharp handling via adaptive damper selection
  • 320d variant not coming to Australia; optional adaptive suspension crucial to Three\'s dynamic abilities; expensive options galore

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2013 BMW 320d Touring Review
2013 BMW 320d Touring Review
2013 BMW 320d Touring Review
by Jez Spinks

As the most practical variant of the German company’s next-generation best-seller, where better for a first, overseas test of the 2013 BMW 3 Series Touring than a trip to the European ski fields.

CarAdvice grabbed the keys to the new 3 Series wagon ahead of its local, late-March release in Australia – a timing that sees it follow a year after the all-new sedan.

As we head down the derestricted Autobahn from Munich towards Austria at an effortless 210km/h – 20km/h below our BMW 320d Touring test car’s maximum speed limit due to the fitment of winter tyres – it’s a chance to consider the changes to the longer-roofed 3 Series.

At 4624mm, the latest BMW 3 Series Touring gains a lengthy 97mm over the previous wagon (though is the same size as the sedan that also grew, except for an extra 13mmm of roof height).

With 50mm of that stretch going between the front and rear axles, BMW says an extra 17mm of rear legroom has been created. Boot space also increases – by 35 litres to a best-in-class-claimed 495 litres (with 1500L available if the rear seatbacks are lowered).

That’s useful, as three large suitcases – one each for three occupants – need to be stored there, with the rear seat occupied by one passenger, a ski boot bag and smaller luggage.

Once those bigger items are transferred into the chalet, the 40-20-40 split-fold rear seats make it easy to make a set up that allows for one passenger on one side using armrest from central section, with skis and poles occupying the other part. (Contrary to the official BMW images, they will actually come in handy.)

2013 BMW 320d Touring Review
2013 BMW 320d Touring Review
2013 BMW 320d Touring Review
2013 BMW 320d Touring Review

Every BMW 3 Series Touring comes standard with an automatic tailgate – including an option to open it by aiming a kick under the rear bumper (a trick seen in the next-generation Ford Kuga).

You might also think of another vehicle, such as the Ford Territory, if you use the Touring’s rear window that opens independently that’s handy for quickly grabbing or throwing in smaller items.

The 3 Series wagon gains firmer rear dampers over the sedan, to deal with increased cargo weight (and a Touring that already weights 70kg more than the four-door).

The BMW 3 Series Touring, however, also benefits from the improved suspension suppleness that improves the ride comfort of the new 3 with its predecessor.

Our BMW 320d test car is even fitted with an M suspension that’s firmer and lower than the regular set-up – just one of a myriad options we have fitted that increase the cost of our Touring model by nearly two-thirds.

The suspension is also the adaptive version that comes recommended over the standard 3 Series underpinnings that, on less-than-smooth roads, lack the brilliantly disciplined body control this BMW has become renowned for over the generations.

Switch modes through the Driver Experience Control to Sport or Sport Plus – there’s also Eco Pro for maximum efficiency or Comfort – and the dampers harden noticeably and the steering weighting becomes stiffer.

2013 BMW 320d Touring Review
2013 BMW 320d Touring Review

It’s here where the 3 Series Touring is at its sharpest on the curving roads through the Austrian alps, while Comfort works best when you’re simply looking to, well, tour.

The 2.0-litre turbo diesel four-cylinder of our BMW 320d Touring is a good all-rounder engine, but also at its best cruising – where driver and passengers alike can appreciate its smooth, quiet and torquey nature.

Offering 135kW of power at 4000rpm and 380Nm of torque between 1750 and 2750rpm, it builds speed with purpose – and capable of accelerating to 100km/h in 7.7 seconds.

Gearchanges from the ZF eight-speed auto are typically intuitive and swift.

Over 500-odd kays for the week, the 320d’s trip computer never ventured excessively beyond the vehicle’s official consumption figure of 4.7L/100km.

The diesel’s low-rev tractability certainly made it a pick over an alternative petrol engine during a week of often heavy snowfall.

Combined with the grippy winter tyres, the rear-wheel-drive 320d Touring managed to tackle some uphill snow/ice tracks without the aid of snow chains. (All-wheel drive xDrive 3 Series Touring models are available in Europe.)

The 320d variant is not part of the local line-up unfortunately.

Australia’s insufficient enthusiasm for wagons means just two BMW 3 Series Touring models will be in showrooms, comprising one diesel and one petrol – both featuring stop-start technology.

The 105kW/320Nm BMW 318d Touring diesel will be priced from $58,900. Its consumption is pegged at the same 4.7L/100km figure as the 320d, though is 1.5 seconds slower (9.2sec) in the 0-100km/h run.

If you’re happy to sacrifice some extra expense at the petrol station for more performance, the $62,600 (before on-road costs) 320i Touring slurps 6.2 litres of fuel every 100km but clocks the benchmark sprint in 7.5 seconds.

Both wagons will mimic the standard features and options of their sedan counterparts.

That means the likes of 16-inch alloy wheels, dual-zone climate, intelligent cruise control, rain-sensing wipers, rear parking sensors, auto headlights and Bluetooth connectivity for the BMW 318d Touring.

The BMW 320i Touring adds power front seats, leather sports steering wheel, interior lights package, 17-inch alloy wheels and rear-view camera.

We’ll deliver definitive reviews on those two Touring models when they launch in March, but in the meantime the BMW 320d wagon we tested points to a strong blend of tangible luxury, efficient performance and flexible practicality.

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2013 BMW 320d Touring Review
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  • Autolove

    “Boot space also increases – by 35 litres to a best-in-class-claimed 495 litres”
    The Passat has 565L.

    • Sam

       Probably not the same class. 

      • Gueshtyu

        Definitely not in the same class. It’s a Volkswagen! They’re for peasants!

  • The Real Wile E

    Nice, pity we are not getting it

  • Hung Low

    The best Diesel engines in its class, I am really liking this new 3 series in and out, but the child in me would probably sway toward the FPV GS with that glorious V8 leaving enough change for a retune, upgraded pulley and an easy 420kw of excuses on why you bought a Falcon over a 3 series.

    • FanBoi

      bogan Vs class


      • Hung Low

        The real bogan does not appreciate the merits of both cars right?

    • Fullesky

      and don’t forget some change for a few flannies a swell

      • Hung Low

        Country road flannies for the BMW driver I suppose.

  • Whatthe

    Er – When they launch in March?  My dealer (Doncaster) already has them. The 328i will be available later in the year

    • mj

      hi whatthe how did you know that 328 will be available later in the year? thx

      • Whatthe

        Dealer will take your order! March build for June delivery.

  • Karl Sass


    • Ghjjh

      See photo of black interior. It’s standard 6 speed manual throughout the world except Australia. You can still get 3 and 5 series in manual here, you just have to make a special order and they’ll make you pay automatic prices.

      • Karl Sass

        That’s what I thought too, thanks.

  • Al Tungupon

    Adaptive suspension should always be standard in a BMW. When someone buys this brand, regardless of model, he or she must expect excellent handling and dynamics.

  • Joe

    …..if they supposedly are the suspension masters, why do they need adaptive suspension?……it’s because BMW’s, thanks to the motoring journalists who want handling above all else, are the most uncomfortable cars on the market. Rock hard suspension, steering that gives you arm pump, rock hard seats all add up to a plainly rough car……and yes I have driven a lot of them.

    The old E30 had a far better compromise than these new ones…….

    • Tom

      A lot of that was down to the run flat tyres. In UK EVO mag’s recent car of the year testing, they commented that the M135i was quite a bit softer than the previous 135i, and a better car for it, because in the real world of imperfect surfaces, it made it much less skittish and more pleasant to drive. 

  • http://www.facebook.com/martinclarke87 Martin Clarke

    I find it amusing that car companies like Toyota and Nissan can sell the Tiida, Yaris, Corolla etc in the US market within a few thousand dollars of their Australian counterparts, yet BMW and the like are tens of thousands dearer, double in some cases. As a collective group for example we are waking up to how much the banks are ripping us off with exorbiant fees on credit cards and are showing great efforts to reduce our debt and live within our means. I personally believe that it won’t be too long before people start to realise that paying these prices for premium cars are just not worth it and the expectation of value with reduce. I don’t mind paying a bit more than the US to cover the cost of the salary disparity of the car salesman etc but to blatantly show a contempt for the Australian consumer is beyond me. I really wish I had the same understanding of the value of money when I bought my new beemer last year because I doubt I would have bought it in the end.

    • Autolove

      While it’s easy to agree with you, BMW will charge what they believe the consumer will pay. They are amazing cars but for the price they would want to be AND some.
      People care a lot for brands and they care a lot for what people think about their choice of car. This insecurity is exploited by all the premium brands. People buy into it all the time thinking it will make them happy. Dare I say it here, it’s just a car!

      • http://www.facebook.com/martinclarke87 Martin Clarke

        Don’t get me wrong I absolutely love the car. It is incredibly comfortable, the leather on the seats is really nice, it corners really well (unlike my previous car) and the little turbo makes me smile every time I hear it wind up. I just wish I had thought about it a bit more before jumping at the first car I saw and only seeing the badge.

        It wasn’t to do with insecurities, but moreso to feel as though I had accomplished something for all my hard work at uni. I realise now that my personal and financial achievements don’t need to be so publicly displayed in how much I can afford to pay for a car. And I absolutely agree with you – it is just a car. A Ford Focus would have done the same job for a third of the money and still made me happy.

        Sorry BMW (and other luxury brands) but I won’t be buying another car from you in this country.

        • Noddy_of_Toyland

          You seem like a genuine character, and can see through the bullsh!t that is ‘premium pricing’ here in Australia. My advice would be not to beat yourself up on what could have been; enjoy the handling and interior of your BMW, and don’t be afraid to modify it to suit. The ride and handling can be further improved by a visit to Pedder’s and Bridgestone, and any engine mods you may carry out will be far better received by the RWD BMW than a Focus. Enjoy.  

      • Igomi Watabi

        Autolove is spot-on. They wouldn’t charge those prices if people didn’t fall over themselves to pay them. Companies are all about making money – even car companies. And if they can make some extra coin out of exploiting stupid people, good on ’em.

        On another note – love the 3-Series wagon. But am with one of the earlier correspondents – a 3-Series has gotta have a manual tranny.

  • Bavarian Miser Works.

    Wanna know why the wagon will only have the smaller diesel and petrol engines here in Australia?
    They don’t want to cannibalise X1 and X3 sales.
    Frankly, I wouldn’t be caught dead in an X1 or an X3.
    But give me a 320d wagon or a 328i wagon and I’d be interested. VERY interested.
    For looks and practicality they run rings around the X1 and X3. Again, maybe that’s something BMW doesn’t want people to know?
    I’m completely sick of all the BS excuses – just bring the better models here instead of being stingy on horsepower, specification and price.
    Shove your 318d and 320i. If you’re going put massive mark ups on your cars the least you can do is give Australians the best cars you make!
    DO IT!

    • Exar Kun

      I don’t think it’s about cannibalising X1 and X3 sales.  They sold the E91 335i here, after all.  It’s just that our stupid, fashion conscious, car buying public prefer soft roaders.  The wagon variants from all the German brands are far more expensive than their equivalent SUV variants too.  You have to be particularly dedicated (and actually practically minded) to buy a 3 series wagon over an equivalently spec’d X3.

  • Anthony

    It’s sad that many ordinary people borrow money to buy luxury cars they can’t afford. These people don’t have the guts just to drive a car they can really afford.

    • Golfmother

      Not everyone wants to look like a bogan .

      • Hung Low

        More like major insecurity issues

        • Golfmother

          And ordinary people take loans on houses they cannot afford so they dont have to live in bogan suburbs .

          • Noddy_of_Toyland

            Choosing not to live and raise a family in a dangerous suburb is quite different from buying a value car that suits their needs, over a fashion statement.

      • Igomi Watabi

        yes, there’s a valid reason to pimp yourself to a voracious finance company – “I don’t want to look like a bogan”

    • Tool

      “ordinary people”
      You have just won, by a landslide, the wanker of the blog award!

      • Anthony

        You’ve hit it on the head. They lease the car in an attempt to deny their ordinariness. Did I threaten yours?

  • Guest

    My main ride is a 1990 Hiace van with over 600k on the clock

    It has lots of space and is surprisingly fuel efficient for a old carbureted 2.4L

    And also it doesn’t spit smoke and it is smooth for such a old vehicle.

    • F1orce

      My main ride is a 1990 Hiace van with almost 600k on the clock

      It has lots of space and is surprisingly fuel efficient for a old carbureted 2.4L

      And also it doesn’t spit smoke and it is smooth for such a old vehicle.. But then again i take good care of it, I regularly change the oil and only use premium fuel.

      • Noddy_of_Toyland

        Love the Hiace, you can throw 12 people, bikes and luggage and that 2.4 still pulls them along. Fond memories.

  • Save It For The Track

    Would the 3 series wagon be in the ‘medium’ class or ‘medium luxury’ (or similar), wheeras Passat and Skoda Superb are in the next class up (in terms of size) perhaps? Which begs the question which class is the Skoda Octavia wagon (with 580L) in?

    • Sfgh

      I would expect it would be the the luxury, but the C class seems to appear in the same sales figure category as the Camrys, Passats etc.
      I’m more interested in how they measure the boot space in wagons. Apparently its only up to the height of the back seats…well what if a particular car has a higher backseat?

  • John

    Hilarious snob vs bogan comments here.

    There are cars to suit everyone. I think if you see a car as simply a tool for a purpose you would always opt for the Japanese/Korean and Aussie makes. They just offer better value and sometimes performance.

    If you are more of a car lover who appreciates the smaller things like design, interiors, refinement etc then you will hapily pay 30% to 40% more.

    It’s like how a landcruiser by all reports is the best 4wd, but is boring as bat s#*t to look at and has all the charm inside of a bus shelter BUT if you are only interested in it as a tool then it’s great. But if you like your cars you will prolly opt for a less reliable 4wd but one that’s a bit more special like a FJ/Wrangler/Defender.

  • Hectare

    Just back from 3000k trip round UK 2 adults 2 teenagers loads of luggage grew to love sharp performance, effortless overtaking at motorway speeds and direct handling in Devon lanes. Like the electronic auto gear shift too. Top marks.