BMW 3 Series Touring estate (2005-2012)
"The 3-Series Touring is a good-looking estate car, but it trades some practicality for sporty handling."
- Compact, neat looks
- Economical and powerful diesels
- Great fun to drive
- Expensive options list
- Less load space than a Mercedes C-Class
- Ride could be better
If you are hooked on the promise of the BMW 3 Series’ fine handling and sporty road manners, but need a practical luggage area, this is the car for you. The 3 Series Touring has the same 460-litre capacity as the saloon with the rear seats in place, yet the large tailgate makes access easier, and the rear seats fold to provide 1,385 litres of space. A huge range of engines is available, but any of the diesels will cope well with a car full of people and their belongings, while still returning good fuel economy.
This generation of BMW 3-Series Touring has now been replaced by a new version, which we've reviewed in full.
MPG, running costs & CO2
BMW’s range of diesel engines combines strong performance with the ability to go a long way on a tank of fuel. While petrol versions have tempting low prices, they don’t hold their value as well and trail on economy. Even the most powerful 3.0-litre twin-turbo 335d diesel, a true high-performance estate, can do 42mpg. The 335i model petrol manages 10mpg less.
Engines, drive & performance
If you want a purely practical family estate, try the Mercedes C-Class. The 3 Series Touring is the driver’s choice. Our pick is the 320d diesel, which combines strong performance and brilliant 59mpg economy. Its low-speed pulling power makes it great to drive. Even with a full load of luggage and occupants, it never feels strained. High-powered six-cylinder diesels, from the 325d to the 335d, are better still and make fine tow cars. But the petrol engines have to be worked hard, which hits fuel economy.
Interior & comfort
BMW makes its cars involving and fun to drive – and the 3 Series Touring is no different. It’s still designed as a sporty car, which means it’s not as comfortable as some rivals because it has quite a firm ride. Leg space in the rear is a little tight for taller adults, too, although there’s plenty of headroom wherever you’re sitting. The driver will have no issues getting comfortable, because there’s lots of seat movement and the steering wheel adjusts for height and reach.
Practicality & boot space
The Touring is the most practical version of the 3 Series, but it loses out to the Mercedes-Benz C-Class Estate and Audi A4 Avant for outright cargo space. The Ford Mondeo Estate, which is much cheaper, has a much bigger boot, too. But neat practical touches include simple fold-flat rear seats and extra storage spaces under the boot floor. A retractable box can also be assembled to keep wet or dirty items away from other things in the boot.
Reliability & safety
The 3 Series Touring was introduced back in 2005, so BMW has had plenty of time to iron out any electrical or mechanical niggles – not that there have been many over the years. But the car hasn’t been as highly rated as rivals from Mercedes and Audi in owner satisfaction surveys. Still, the Touring did put in a decent performance in Euro NCAP crash tests, achieving a full five-star rating for adult occupant protection and four stars for child protection.
Price, value for money & options
Given all the added practicality the Touring offers, it doesn’t cost that much more than the equivalent saloon. But as in the four-door, standard equipment is quite minimal and the options list is pricey. Three trim levels are available: ES, SE and M Sport. The latter is popular, with its aggressive styling extras, but the cheaper SE is a good balance of price and equipment. Special Business Edition versions add luxury items like leather seats for a small extra outlay.