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What Car? says

4 out of 5 stars

For The Touring adds practicality to the 3 Series range without sacrificing the saloon’s excellent drive

Against It's not great at carrying big loads and it's expensive on the used market

Verdict It's reasonably practical, has a fine drive and holds its value very well

Go for… 318i

Avoid… 330i

BMW 3 Series Touring
  • 1. The Touring brings only a slight increase in practicality over the saloon
  • 2. Good overall reliability, but watch for suspension failure
  • 3. If you cover high mileages the better economy and greater pull of the diesel car may make it the ideal choice
  • 4. The front seats are comfotable for all, with good adjustment in all directions
  • 5. All engines are tough and reliable, and will last many thousands of miles
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BMW 3 Series Touring full review with expert trade views

As long as you don't think you're buying a workhorse estate, the 3 Series Touring is fine. It may be bigger than previous models, and compare well with rivals from Audi and Mercedes, but this is no Volvo. It only brings a slight increase in practicality over the saloon.

However, you don't sacrifice a fine drive. Compared to the previous model, this car's sporting edge was softened slightly so it could compete with the comfort and refinement of the likes of the Mercedes C-Class. However, it remained the best car in its class to drive, with a fantastic blend of ride, handling and well weighted controls that none of its rivals could touch.

Build quality is as good as you could expect of a German prestige car, and equipment levels are good across the range.

Trade view

John Owen

Long lasting, reliable and economical 320d the obvious choice. Constrained by poor load space

John Owen
Buyer,
Fords of Winsford

There isn't a bad 3 Series - or even a disappointing one. The best two are the petrol 318i and the diesel 320d, with the 318i's lower prices making it our preferred option. However, if you cover high mileages or regulary carry big loads, the better economy and greater pull of the diesel car may be more attractive.

Each engine has its own strengths, but the 1.9-litre unit in the 316i is weak for a car of this size, and the 320d is worth the extra over the 318d. Gearboxes aren't a worry: manuals are slick, autos smooth.

On most early models, trim comes in (unbadged) standard or SE forms, but Sport and ES gradually joined the range over the years. On early cars, the SE's extra equipment makes it the one to go for, but on later cars, ES is the top choice - it has much of the SE's attractions at a lower price.

Trade view

Duncan McLure-Fisher

Good overall reliability; low repair bills, but watch for suspension failure

Duncan McLure-Fisher
Managing Director,
Warranty Direct

The only trouble with the Touring is that, like any 3 Series, it's so desirable - which means it's an expensive used buy.

However, once you have one, running costs aren't too bad. Four-cylinder petrol cars (especially the later models) return well over 30mpg, and even the six-cylinder models aren't too far behind, as long as you drive gently.

In the 320d, you'll see mpg as high as the upper 40s, and even the 330d returns over 40mpg, which is remarkable in a car that hits 60mph in just over 7 seconds.

Insurance won't be cheap, with no models below group 10, but that's no worse than rivals from Audi and Mercedes. Perhaps most surprisingly, maintenance costs aren't steep, either. Figures from Warranty Direct show that average bills on BMWs are on a par with those for VWs.

Trade view

John Owen

Long lasting, reliable and economical 320d the obvious choice. Constrained by poor load space

John Owen
Buyer,
Fords of Winsford

You'd expect the 3 Series to be a tough, well built car and that's very much the case, with the Touring as good as the saloon. Although there have been a few recalls, relating to (among other things) the side airbags, brakes, wheels and suspension, the 3 Series is a sound piece of engineering.

Figures from Warranty Direct show it to have better-than-average reliability, with the cars requiring little time off the road when problems do occur. Whatcar.com reader reviews bear this out, with few reporting problems and, in most cases, when things did go wrong, the dealers were prompt and efficient in sorting things out.

Trade view

Duncan McLure-Fisher

Good overall reliability; low repair bills, but watch for suspension failure

Duncan McLure-Fisher
Managing Director,
Warranty Direct
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