BMW expands 3-Series Touring range

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Station wagons occupy a small sector that becomes much teensier still if just premium models are considered, so seven editions of the new 3-Series Touring might seem excessive.

Yet it's unavoidable, for several reasons. Most obviously, the car is for the first time available in xDrive four-wheel drive as well as the traditional rear-drive. Also, the previous car was purely diesel; this time it comes with petrol power as well.

More models means a wider price-specification spectrum and a sales target of at least 100 registrations - treble the 2012 tally.

BMW sees the new xDrive models taking up to 50% of Touring sales and reckon it will pull many new customers.

Conceivably, the best car of the lot would be the xDrive 330d, the first 3 model here with a turbocharged six-cylinder that offers 190kW/550Nm, an awesome amount of torque, especially for a car of this size. Sadly, it wasn't on the media drive - indeed, none of the all-wheel-drive cars were, as they don't arrive until May.

We had to restrict our driving to four-cylinder rear-drive diesels and petrols, not that this was a hardship.

The Touring has a longer wheelbase than the sedan, which is beneficial to rear-seat legroom, and weighs 80kg more, but neither factor seems detrimental to the dynamics. Basically, it drives every bit as well as the sedan. It might be different for the xDrives, which carry another 80kg, though BMW says they have a predominantly rear-drive feel.

More editions means a wider pricing position. The previous pair slotted in at $85,000 and $116,000; now the range starts at $77,800 and tops at $112,500 for either of the sixes.

Specifications are improved: Everything has full electrics, air con, Bluetooth, eight-speed auto (a six-speed manual is available for $4100 off the price), Efficient Dynamics (including stop-start), the usual safety features and a 6.5 inch-high resolution monitor displaying information from the on-board computer.

The higher the price, the more expansive the kit count, reaching to leather, enlarged wheels, auto-opening tailgate, reversing camera, sat nav and a head-up display, plus lots of options. In addition to the same Sport/Modern/Luxury trim levels there's a sedan-matching M-Sport package.

Seats-up boot space of just 495 litres is useful, but hardly commodious. Dropping the rear seats delivers an optimum 1500 litres. The more-vertical tailgate will be appreciated by pampered pooches, but it's still a style wagon first and foremost.

BMW expands 3-Series Touring range
At a Glance

BMW 3-Series Touring range

From $77,800 to $118,000

Engine:
1997cc four-cylinder turbodiesel (318d), maximum power 105kW@4000rpm, maximum torque 320Nm@1750-2500rpm
1995cc four-cylinder turbodiesel (320d), max power 135kW@4000rpm, max torque 380Nm @1750-2750rpm
1997cc four-cylinder turbocharged petrol (320i), max power 135kW@5000rpm, max torque 270Nm@1250rpm
1997cc four-cylinder turbocharged petrol (328i), max power 180kW@5000-6000rpm; max torque 350Nm @1250-4800rpm
2993cc six-cylinder turbodiesel (330d), max power 190kW @4000rpm, max torque 560Nm@1500-3000rpm
2979cc six-cylinder turbocharged petrol (335i), max power 225kW@5800rpm, max torque 400Nm @1200-5000rpm.

Transmissions:
Eight-speed automatic (six-speed manual optional for $4100 less list price), rear and four-wheel-drive.

Brakes and Stability Systems:
Disc brakes, ABS, DSC, CTCC, BA, DTC.

Wheels, tyres:
225/50 R17 to 225/40 R19.

Fuel and Economy:
4.5 (318d) to 7.6 (335i) litres per 100km, capacity 57 litres.

Dimensions:
Length 4624mm
Width 1811mm
Height 1429mm.