Strengths and weaknesses:
- technological content
- very good handling
- quiet and powerful engine
- it will be pricey
- strangely, the manual transmission is an option
Wagons Ho for BMW 3 Touring
"The new-for-2013 Touring builds on what it is famous for: premium practicality and the engineering of Bavarian Motor Works."
MUNICH - Coming in to the next model year with its confidence high (along with month-over-month sales), BMW concentrates on evolution with the 2013 3 Series Touring.
It’s certainly the one I would buy, if I were shopping for an issue of BMW’s popular mainstay, and judging by what one sees on the autobahns around Munich, a high percentage of the population agree- there’s a very high take rate on the hatchback incarnation of the car in Europe, and the continent consumes most of the wagons BMW builds.
The new-for-2013 Touring builds on what it is famous for: premium practicality and the engineering of Bavarian Motor Works, wrapped in (naturally) ever-increasing high-tech.
Approaching it from the rear reveals a ‘first’ in the segment, a motion-operated power tailgate. In cars equipped with it, a driver need only run a foot beneath the bumper (if you have the key in your pocket) and the gate lifts automatically. It’s an option, of course (called ‘Comfort Access’).
The rear and hatch receive most of the benefits of the tweaked bodystyle: the lift-over height has been lowered and the opening made as wide as possible to the cargo area; in addition to the body contours being tailored to make the vehicle appear lighter and less obtrusive.
Within the cabin of the Touring, proportions are expanded for 2013. Headroom is expanded by nine millimetres; legroom by 50 mm and an additional 35 litres of potential cargo space has been carved out (for a maximum of 1500).
At the end of the day, though, dynamic ability is what the company is all about; it wouldn’t be a 3 and it wouldn’t be a Bimmer if it hadn’t been touched by some Bavarian pixie dust.
Promising ever more agility and overall quickness via a reduction in weight (by using bigger glass throughout the greenhouse, which enhances visibility as well as helping decrease the car’s weight by 40 kilograms), and increased chassis stiffness (10%), the 2013 Touring moves the performance factor incrementally forward. Fuel consumption can be reduced by up to 20% as well, with the addition of an “Eco Pro” selectable driving mode.
A great feature incorporated into the 328i is the auto stop/start function that shuts the engine down at idle, thereby reducing emissions.
Engine and drivetrain choices are a lot easier for a lazy guy like me to write about because we live in Canada – we’ll only get one, the 328i, with BMW’s all-wheel ‘xDrive’ system.
The 2.0 litre engine brings 240 horsepower and 258 lb.-ft. of torque to the platform, running it to the AWD through either the well-established six-speed manual gearbox, or BMW’s new eight-speed automatic, and as you might expect does a fine job of putting refined and quiet power into the relatively compact wagon.
Some rather informal and unscientific testing on the roads and autobahns around Munich allowed the car to prove itself (or re-prove itself, as it were; it’s not like I thought the 328 would underperform). While undoubtedly not the most fuel efficient of the three selectable drive modes (there are also ‘Comfort’ and the aforementioned Eco Pro) it is the Sport + mode that turns the car into a beast of pure fun.
The difference is noticeable and immediate as modes are changed via the console-mounted switch (the Driving Experience Control switch, the company has coined it), and Sport mode comes on hard, instantly changing the car’s personality and maximizing the not-inconsiderable output of the twin-scroll turbo four cylinder.
The 328i is up to snuff for the speed-limitless sections of the autobahns, which by default makes it more than ready for our roadways, be it in Calgary or Trois Rivieres.
Pricing for the 2013 model is as yet unannounced, and the car won’t be on sale until the spring of 2013; but it will be available in the standard trim packages – Sport Line, Modern Line and Luxury Line, with an available M-sport package as well (which, while not a ‘true’ M, gains a yet-firmer suspension and lowers the ride height by 10 mm).
2013 BMW 328i Touring
Trim levels available: Sport Line; Luxury Line; Modern Line
MSRP range: not yet set
Notable options: M-Sport package; hands-free tailgate, cargo management system, adaptive sport suspension, head-up display
Configuration: front engine/ all-wheel drive
Available engines: 2.0L 4 cyl. (240 hp/258 lb.-ft.)
Available transmissions: 6-spd manual; 8-spd auto. with sequential shift
Fuel economy ratings (L/100km): not yet rated
Warranties: Exp. 4 years/ 80,000 km (comprehensive)
Competitors: Audi A4