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What Car? says

4 out of 5 stars

For Great to drive and very practical

Against Firm ride; loadspace could be better

Verdict Not the biggest estate, but brilliant to drive and highly desirable

Go for… 320d ES

Avoid… 330i Sport

BMW 3 Series Touring
  • 1. If the boot looks clean and tidy, the rest of the interior should follow suit
  • 2. You might find the ride a touch too firm at low speeds
  • 3. The boot is not the largest or the best shaped
  • 4. All engines are tough and reliable, and will last many thousands of miles
  • 5. Compared to its rivals, the 3 Series Touring has good space for rear-seat passengers
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BMW 3 Series Touring full review with expert trade views

The 3 Series Touring is every bit as good to drive as the saloon version. Despite being heavier than the saloon, this estate is extremely agile.

The car’s superb dynamics are not at the expense of comfort, although some may find it a touch too firm at low speeds – especially with the optional Sports suspension.

The cabin offers enough head- and legroom for tall passengers, and comes with BMW’s typical attention to detail and build quality. The boot isn’t as generous as those of some estates in the class, but it’s still a good size. The rear seats fold down flat, but the wheelarches intrude into the loadspace.

Trade view

You’d be mad not to consider one of the 2.0-litre diesel models. There are plenty on the used market and resale values are strong.

Matt Sanger
What Car?'s Used Car Editor

Diesel is the best option by far, but the vast array of engines could leave buyers confused. Many are the same size but have different power outputs, and have been uprated since launch.

The 120-141bhp 2.0-litre 318d is acceptable, but we’d go for the 320d with 161bhp, or 174bhp after Sept 2007 and 181bhp post-March 2010. The performance-oriented 3.0-litre models come as the 194-201bhp 325d, and the 228-241bhp 330d or 282bhp 335d.

If you cover only a low annual mileage, one of the petrol models may prove better value. The refined 127-168bhp 2.0-litre 318i or 320i will suit most, while the brawny six-cylinder engines come in three variants: a 2.5-litre with 215bhp and two 3.0-litre models with between 254bhp and 302bhp.

All come with a six-speed manual gearbox as standard, but there’s also a six-speed automatic option.

Entry-level models miss out on alloys, but do get a CD player, air-conditioning and four electric windows.

ES specification adds alloys and front foglights, air-conditioning and four electric windows, but SE cars are the most common models on the used market, with bigger alloys, a multi-function steering wheel, traction control and reversing sensors. The M Sport editions get a muscular bodykit, larger alloys and the firmer sports suspension.

In mid-2009, the SE Business Edition was introduced, which added leather upholstery, Bluetooth and sat-nav to the standard SE spec.

Trade view

A classy and competent estate that’s as almost as good to drive as the 3 Series saloon.

Matt Sanger
What Car?'s Used Car Editor

Fuel-saving Efficient Dynamics technology was introduced to the 3 Series range in 2007 and has been steadily improved since, making later cars noticeably more efficient.

The 320d improved from an average of 47.9mpg and 158g/km of CO2 to 58.9mpg and 128g/km, while the 318d improved from 48.7mpg and 155g/km of CO2 to 62.8mpg and 120g/km.

The petrol models lag some way behind. Originally, the 318i managed an average of 37.2mpg and emitted 182g/km of CO2, while the current version improved to 44.8mpg and 147g/km. It’s a similar story with the more-powerful version. The original 320i managed 37.2mpg and produced 182g/km, while the current car jumps to 44.1mpg and 149g/km.

The least-powerful models are in insurance group 21, rising to group 38 for the range-topping diesel models.

Typically, franchised BMW dealers have some of the UK’s highest labour rates, so look to independent specialists when servicing cars more than three years old.

Trade view

You’d be mad not to consider one of the 2.0-litre diesel models. There are plenty on the used market and resale values are strong.

Matt Sanger
What Car?'s Used Car Editor

Generally, the BMW 3 Series Touring has a good reputation for reliability, but there are a number of things to check.

The majority of 3 Series came with run flat tyres as standard, but due to the expense of replacing them some owners fitted standard tyres instead. The tyre pressure sensors can fail if replacement tyres don't have exactly the same rolling circumference as the originals.

Door handles can stick and the interior trim can work itself loose over time. There are also some reports of issues with turbos, rapidly wearing front brakes, central locking malfunctions and air-con faults.

Only buy cars with a full service history, and avoid shoddy examples. There are plenty of cars to choose from, so you can afford to be fussy.

Trade view

A classy and competent estate that’s as almost as good to drive as the 3 Series saloon.

Matt Sanger
What Car?'s Used Car Editor
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