There have been a couple of M5 Touring models over the years but you felt that BMW’s heart was never in the fast estate market the way it has been for Audi, which invented the genre, and latterly Mercedes. Both of them have made hay with their autobahn-storming über wagons. It’s a club BMW can stay out of no longer.
Bavaria’s rival for the Audi RS4 and Mercedes-AMG C63 will form part of the new sixth-generation M3/M4 family to be unveiled this coming September. Coupe and saloon are first up, then the M4 convertible next year and following that will be the first M3 four-door. But with a two-year development programme just beginning – expect to see lots of pictures of camouflaged M3 Tourings pounding the Nürburgring Nordschleife in coming months – that would place a market launch no sooner than mid 2022.
There’s only one official picture so far, of a tailgated rear-end complete with obligatory four exhausts. At this stage we can only guess what the front end will look like. BMW says we can expect “conspicuously large front air intakes”, but the bigger question is what shape, and size, the kidney grilles will be, given recent controversial concepts.
BMW is confirming few mechanical details so far but, estate body aside, it is expected to stray little from the rest of the new M3/M4 family. That means twin turbocharged 3.0-litre six-cylinder M TwinPower engine driving all four wheels. Expect at least 100bhp more than the most powerful non-M Touring, the M340i xDrive Touring. That £50k car boasts 369bhp and 0-62 in 4.5 seconds. The M3 Touring must be aiming at around four seconds for the sprint.
The mainstream Touring models were unveiled just under a year ago, based like the rest of the latest G20 3-series family around new engines and lightweight new chassis along with a fully digital cabin and a little more room inside than before. The Touring’s more rigid structure, lower centre of gravity and 50:50 weight distribution all augur well for the M3 version.
If it is likely to be the fastest M3 ever it most certainly will be the most practical. BMW is promising the space and functionality of the regular Touring model and if that’s the case expect a 40-20-40 split back seat (with room for three child seats), and a 500-litre boot that expands to 1500 litres with the seats down. Also expect a full-length panoramic roof and separately opening (by remote control) rear window in the electrically-operated tailgate.
BMW says the M3 Touring “fulfils the hopes of all those who wish to take the M-specific interplay of racing-oriented performance and everyday suitability to the extreme.”
Quite. Bit of a no-brainer you would think, but surprisingly there never has been an M3 wagon in 34 years. Well, there was one. That was a prototype developed on the third-generation M3 20 years ago. It remained a prototype after BMW got cold feet.
Let’s hope no such fate awaits this version!