503-HP BMW M3 Touring Combines Practicality and Performance

  • The longroof M3 combines a station-wagon body with a twin-turbocharged 3.0-liter inline-six engine.
  • It has standard xDrive all-wheel drive including a RWD drift mode.
  • It will go on sale in Europe (and elsewhere) later this year but is seemingly not coming to U.S.

    We are often frustrated when European automakers deny us cars with the excuse that they would be in limited demand in the U.S. This, sadly, is one of those occasions, with BMW’s official confirmation of a car that rational market forces are set to deny us. Meet the new BMW M3 Touring.

    That’s right, it’s an M3 wagon, the first that BMW has ever built through six generations of the nameplate. It got close in the past, having nearly launched a longroof version of the E36-generation M3 that was built between 1992 and 1999. But this is the first to actually make it to production and, on the basis of these images, it is every bit as awesome as you would expect such a combination of practicality and performance to be.

    The M3 Touring follows the M4 coupe and convertible and the M3 sedan, and is set to make its official debut at the Goodwood Festival of Speed in the U.K. this weekend. As you’d expect, it shares the station-wagon body of the existing 3-series Touring, which remains a strong seller in Europe, with the all-wheel-drive powertrain of the M3 Competition. And yes, it keeps Howitzer-caliber quad exhaust tips.

    That means power from a twin-turbocharged 3.0-liter six-cylinder engine that makes 503 hp and 479 pound-feet of torque, with this delivered to the road through a standard eight-speed automatic gearbox and all-wheel drive. The AWD system has an electronically controlled multi-plate clutch to apportion torque between its front and rear axles, plus an equally clever rear differential that allows full variation of the amount of effort sent to each rear wheel. Like the sedan, it will also feature a pure rear-wheel driven mode, although one that can only be selected with the disengagement of the DSC stability control system. Doing this will bring the additional dynamic option of the variable M Traction Control feature which will, according to BMW, “allow the skilled driver to enjoy a driving experience of remarkable purity.” Or, translated: big skids.

    The new car is slightly heavier than the M4 coupe and M3 sedan, although BMW hasn’t confirmed by quite how much. But it will still be brutally quick: BMW is claiming a sprint to 62mph in just 3.6 seconds—just a tenth behind the company’s claim for the sedan. Top speed will remain limited to 155 mph in standard form, although buyers who opt for the M Driver’s Package will see that increase to 174 mph.

    But it is also a wagon, one that will offer a claimed 18 cubic feet of cargo capacity with the rear seats in place, and with this figure increasing to 53 cubic feet with the seats folded. As with lesser versions of the 3-series Touring, practicality is enhanced by the ability to open the rear tailgate glass separately, allowing small items to be placed into the load space without opening the trunk.

    Beyond the obvious bodywork changes, the M3 Touring sticks closely to the look of the sedan, but it also marks the debut in an M car of BMW’s new Operating System 8 system, and also a new 14.9-inch curved touchscreen display. As the pictures confirm, it extends from the edge of the merged digital instrument cluster to overlap the front passenger’s position.

    There has been an M-branded Touring model before this one, with the E60-generation M5 combining wagon bodywork with the sonorous performance of that car’s naturally aspirated 5.0-liter V10 engine. This one is slightly less practical, but also quicker. It will be going on sale in markets including the U.K., Europe, South Korea, Japan, New Zealand and Australia later this year. Sadly it seems there are no plans to bring it here.

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