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BMW 330d Luxury Touring

Click to view picture galleryThe welcome extra size and
  premium brand image
of the new
  3 Series Touring
will not only
  keep existing customers happy,
  but it
s bound to attract more
  new customers to the marque...


INITIALLY IT'S AVAILABLE with the choice of three engines, although more will soon be added so that the Touring line-up will mirror that of the 3 Series saloon in both engine and trim grades. Like its saloon siblings, the Touring offers a new generation of turbocharged petrol engines and more automatic transmission options for diesel-powered models.

For the moment the Touring is available with the 328i petrol engine (30,400) as well as, for diesel-fanciers, the best-selling 320d (29,380) and the 34,700 six-pot 330d. Shortly to be added are the 320i petrol and the diesel 318d and 316d versions (prices not yet announced). Specification grades are ES, SE, Modern, Sport, Luxury and M Sport.

From the tip of the nose to the B-pillar, the Touring estate is exactly the same as its 3 Series saloon stablemate —
so there's an expressive front-end with twin headlamps and LED accent lights combined with the gently forward sloping BMW kidney-grille, all further highlighted by the additional outer air intakes below the headlamps and the sweeping lines of the bonnet converging on the grille.

“The cabin design of the
new 3 Series Touring
is identical to that of the
recently-introduced
‘Three’ saloon; and, as in
the saloon, the traditional
BMW driver focus
creates a sporty interior
ambience
...”
From the side, the new 'Three' Touring is defined by the sweeping silhouette of its smoothly sloping roofline. Large glass areas extend right to the back of the vehicle, accentuating its greater length: the new version is 97mm longer overall, plus there's a further 50mm in the wheelbase.

At the tail, a roof spoiler together with L-shaped rear light units set far out to the edges and a 48mm wider rear track all help 'plant' the design firmly on the road.

The cabin design of the new 3 Series Touring is identical to that of the recently- introduced 3 Series saloon. And, as in the saloon, the traditional BMW driver focus creates a sporty interior ambience.

The flatscreen monitor for the iDrive system is neatly integrated into the dashboard with the iDrive controller mounted down on the centre console within easy reach of the driver. Overall the cabin demonstrates BMW's usual commitment to quality, both in the range of materials used and the way the vehicle is assembled. This strength-in-depth is illustrated and personalised by the large range of interior trims and upholstery materials that can be combined in different ways.

The foundation for the new Touring's class-leading attributes lies with its increased exterior dimensions. From them, the engineers have been able to improve the interior package for rear seat passengers considerably: there is now 17mm extra knee room and 9mm more headroom; and access to the rear seats is easier than ever before.

It still isn't that brilliant for rear seat legroom, but it is an improvement. There's also more storage space up front with the larger door pockets complemented by two large cup holders on the centre console.

With its loading sill just 620mm off the ground (and protected by a stainless steel strip), the 495-litre boot is 35 litres larger than the previous generation model —
fold the 40:20:40 split rear seats and you'll now have 1,500 litres of cargo space.

“Fuel economy is
officially 55.4mpg for the
Combined Cycle —
my drive on Cotswold
A and B roads
returned a real-life
47.4mpg
...”
All models feature an electrically-operated tailgate, luggage securing lugs, a pair of coat hooks, a luggage net and a deep storage compartment on the left-hand side of the load area.

The luggage cover can be stored under the boot floor when removed, thus allowing it to be carried on a journey if it is to be required later on. There's also a separate partition net that can be used even when the rear seats are folded flat —
although the seats don't fold completely flat so there's an 'uphill' lip in the floor.

The rear seats also have a large through-loading central section that can accommodate a number of skis or snow boards when four occupants are travelling in the car. The rear window in the tailgate can also be opened independently — particularly convenient when loading small items.

So, overall the latest Touring is a practical and stylish addition to BMW's core 3 Series range —
and its extra size and on-the-road premium brand image is certain to attract new customers to BMW. It will also keep existing customers happy and will, due to the increase in size and quality plus the savings on price and taxes, no doubt interest existing but downsizing 5 Series Touring owners.

My test version was a Luxury spec 330d that
costs 36,300 and comes with an eight-speed automatic transmission as standard.

The 3.0-litre engine is a straight-six unit, with twin turbochargers and stop/start function. Over the previous 330d unit, power is up by 12bhp to 254bhp and torque increased by 29lb ft to 413lb ft,
available from just 1,500rpm.

With the new eight-speed auto 'box this power and torque provides strong acceleration right through the power range: top speed is limited to 155mph with zero to 62mph taking just 5.6 seconds. CO2 emissions for this revised engine have dropped from 165g/km to 135g/km —
very impressive for a 3.0-litre unit.

“Because of its extra
weight, the Touring doesn
t quite
match it
s saloon sisters
class-leading
handling — but overall
it’s an impressive
newcomer.
..”
Fuel economy is officially 55.4mpg for the Combined Cycle; my drive on Cotswold A and B roads, with just me in the car and no luggage, returned a more real-life 47.4mpg.

Just as impressive was the minimal noise of the engine transmitted into the car. On the downside this emphasised the road noise intrusion from the 18-inch wheels shod with run-flat tyres.

However, the quality of ride comfort was very good and I continue to notice the ongoing improvement in this area from the latest generation BMW models of all types.

BMW UK say that their latest models have UK-specific settings for the suspension to compensate for our poor road surfaces. And that, combined with improvements to the supple ride quality performance of run-flat tyres, is good news. However, because of its extra weight the 3 Series Touring doesn't quite match its saloon sister's agile, class-leading handling — but overall it's an impressive newcomer.

Anything against? A few points: pricey, especially if must-have options are added, tall rear seat passengers will still want more legroom, rear seats do not fold down completely flat, and the quiet twin-turboed engine emphasises tyre noise intrusion.

For this 'Three' estate: much improved space, spec and quality, easy-to-use and versatile load area, more power and performance with better fuel economy and less emissions, seamless 8-speed automatic transmission, compliant and comfortable ride. —
David Miles

BMW 330d Luxury Touring | 36,300
Maximum speed: 155mph | 0-62mph: 5.6 seconds | Overall test MPG: 47.4mpg
Power: 254bhp | Torque: 413lb ft | CO2 135g/km