Each week our team of experienced senior road testers pick out a new model from the world of innovative, premium and performance badges, and put it through its paces.
NOV 21st 2016
The Goodwood Test: BMW 330d xDrive M Sport Touring
The fifth-generation BMW 3-series Touring (E91), or estate for non-Beemer types, arrived back in 2005 (the first 3-Series graced the scene back in 1975). The 330d diesel engine followed the petrol range (a 335d came shortly after), and a facelift in 2008 introduced BMW’s impressive EfficientDynamics systems as standard. The 3-series Touring has the option of all-wheel-drive, with variable torque split, denoted by an xDrive badge, which first arrived on the scene in 2003, on the X3 compact SUV. BMW’s first foray into the all-wheel-drive market, however, came in 1985, with the Allrad 325i at the Frankfurt motor show. About one in three BMW cars sold globally is equipped with xDrive.
The 3-series Touring has always been a smart, compact estate, and the latest version is a svelte affair, with the trademark pinched headlights, sharp creases in the bodywork and squat haunches. The M Sport trim gives it double-spoke lightweight alloys with blue callipers and an aero package of the usual sporty styling additions - lower grilles, more scoops and vents, while inside the M Sport package means leather upholstery, leather steering wheel (the one down-side to this car – far too chunky for our liking), front sport seats, special headliner and Sport-plus mode. The interior is classic BMW – pared down, understated, simple and smart. There is plenty of room in the boot for a family of four’s belongings (we flipped down one of the rear seats to get two bikes in – one with stabilisers – plus one child in a car seat). The front seats are extraordinarily comfortable – firm, with plenty of lumbar support.
A typically accomplished BMW performance by the chassis makes this 3-series Touring one of the best blends of small family estate and satisfyingly sporty drive. The engine develops 258bhp and a smooth 413lb ft of torque, giving a 0-62mph time of 5.6 seconds and a claimed 56.5mpg (we got just over 40mpg on our motorway run with it). None of which is a bad figure for a family load lugger.
But the real jewel in the crown is the handling: the adaptive M Sport suspension is a great blend of firm damping but enough suppleness to stop the car being a real bone shaker. The Sport + button from the M Sport pack gives an extra level of oomph. Our test car had the addition of an electrically folding tower (£750), panoramic glass sunroof (£1,180), surround-view reversing camera (£500), adaptive LED headlights (£610) and speed limit display projected on the windcrseen (£220).
It’s fundamentally an estate, which means that while raw dynamic passion might not be its forte, you can’t help but be very impressed by the all-round capability of this model: it feels genuinely sporting, but when you look in your rear-view mirror, you’ll spy two children and a load of clobber in the estate boot. Plus, that xDrive gives you reassurance in wet and slippery conditions, meaning you can have traditional BMW design without traditional BMW anxiety about how to exit a wet field.
Price as tested: £51,180 (from £39,990)
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