The BMW 330d xDrive Touring combines a powerful diesel engine with the company’s lightweight four-wheel-drive system, packaged in one of our favourite executive estates.
The powertrain comes with an eight-speed automatic gearbox as standard, and is available in SE, Modern, Luxury or M Sport trims.
With a starting price of nearly £37,000, though, the 330d xDrive Touring is one of the most expensive 3 Series models you can buy.
What’s the 2014 BMW 330d xDrive Touring like to drive?
The xDrive system adds around 70kg to the weight of the regular 330d Touring, and while you may notice that difference if you’ve recently driven a rear-wheel-drive model, it has no detrimental effect on the 3 Series’ fine handling.
In fact, the extra traction at the front gives you even more confidence in the car. Most of the time there’s a 60/40 torque split in favour of the rear wheels, but xDrive can send almost all of the engine's torque to either the front or rear axle as required to maximise traction in slippery conditions.
As with other models, you still need to add the adaptive suspension system (£750) to make the xDrive ride and handle brilliantly. The rocker switch next to the gearlever allows you to change the stiffness of the set-up. In Comfort mode you get a supple, relaxed cruiser, while Sport and Sport+ offer tauter body control through corners. The two Sport settings also add weight to the steering.
The 330d gets BMW’s brilliant eight-speed automatic gearbox as standard. Left to its own devices, it rarely gets caught out, but you can always take control using the steering wheel-mounted paddles if you want.
The six-cylinder diesel engine is smooth and effortlessly quick, although it does sound pretty gruff compared with some diesel engines from rivals. There's some wind noise, too, although road noise is well supressed at motorway speeds.
What’s the 2014 BMW 330d xDrive Touring like inside?
Compared with the plush cabins in the latest Audi A3 range, the 3 Series' interior is a little underwhelming. True, most of the materials feel classy enough and everything is well put together, but the interior panel gaps are inconsistent in places.
The standard manual adjustment for the fronts seats feels rather clunky, but in most other respects the Touring is comfortable and spacious, so there should be no complaints from four tall adults on longer journeys.
The boot is big enough for plenty of luggage, too, and there are 40/20/40 split folding rear seats as standard. However, if you need a really big load bay you're better off with the larger 5 Series, which can be had for similar money if you're prepared to sacrifice a bit of power.
Entry-level SE trim is the best value for money, bringing dual-zone climate control, rear parking sensors and automatic lights and wipers. Modern-spec cars get part-leather upholstery and some different styling touches, while Luxury trim adds bigger alloys and full leather, as well as plenty of chrome styling features.
M Sport adds similar cosmetic upgrades, plus a bodykit and a sportier steering wheel.
Should I buy one?
If you’re reading about this version of the 3 Series Touring simply because you want four-wheel drive, then we’d recommend sticking with the 320d xDrive. It costs significantly less to buy and run, but still offers plenty of pace and performance compared with most family wagons.
However, if you’ve got a budget of around £40,000 and want something that’s rapid, plush and practical, the BMW 330d xDrive Touring is certainly worth considering. True, for most buyers, the standard 330d is even more appealing, being £1250 cheaper, although the xDrive's added all-weather performance gives it plenty of appeal.
What's more, discounts of £4500 are available, which makes it even more attractive if you're a private buyer.
What Car? says…
Specification 330d xDrive Touring
Engine size 3.0-litre diesel
Price from £36,915
Torque 413lb ft
0-62mph 5.4 seconds
Top speed 155mph
Fuel economy 52.3mpg
CO2 output 142g/km