Future classic: BMW M3 Touring

| 10 Oct 2023
Classic & Sports Car – Future classic: BMW M3 Touring

They’ve finally done it.

Those wanting a BMW M estate no longer have to build their own out of a 320d Touring and a crashed M car; BMW is offering an M3 Touring for the first time and has a rival for the Audi RS4 Avant at last.

Of course, real BMW nuts will know that BMW did build a one-off E46 M3 Touring, and there were two generations of M5 Touring, but this is the model enthusiasts have wanted for decades.

The practicality of an estate combined with the famous razor-sharp driving dynamics of BMW’s compact sports saloon.

Classic & Sports Car – Future classic: BMW M3 Touring

Classic & Sports Car – Future classic: BMW M3 Touring
Classic & Sports Car – Future classic: BMW M3 Touring

Clockwise from top: BMW celebrated 50 years of its M division with an old-style badge; the M3 Touring is a very capable estate; 500 litres of boot space makes this a genuine load-lugger

Most impressive is that the M3 Touring doesn’t feel very different from the four-door M3 Competition on which it is based.

It hides its extra 85kg extremely well – which is especially important given that it contributes to a hefty 1865kg total.

Despite being the size of a car we used to call a 5 Series, the M3 Touring’s fantastically quick and precise steering belies its heft, and it has the power to mask it.

In today’s high-horsepower world, 503bhp is an impressive figure on paper, but not a ludicrous one.

Classic & Sports Car – Future classic: BMW M3 Touring
Classic & Sports Car – Future classic: BMW M3 Touring

The 14.9in infotainment screen is hard to miss (left); carbon seats confirm the BMW M3 Touring’s sporty intentions

On the road, however, it is an immense amount of power for any kind of car, let alone a wagon.

Once in Sport mode, lock the paddle-shift gearbox into manual and from there it can be savage.

It’s the terrific-sounding straight-six that differentiates the M3 Touring from its competitors: the Audi has a V6 that’s mounted much too far forward, the Mercedes-Benz has a 2-litre ‘four’ that’s never going to match a larger engine for muscle and noise.

Classic & Sports Car – Future classic: BMW M3 Touring
Classic & Sports Car – Future classic: BMW M3 Touring

The BMW’s turbocharged straight-six packs a 503bhp punch (left); the M3 Touring is only available in the UK in Competition guise

Unlike the saloon, the M3 Touring comes only in all-wheel-drive ‘xDrive’ form.

Thankfully, though, it is thoroughly rear-biased and can even be set to rear-wheel-drive only.

Nonetheless, the Touring comes across as overwhelmingly serious.

Its weight and traction forbid it from feeling chuckable or lithe like an E30 M3, but it has truly immense ability down a B-road.

It’s not as harsh over poor surfaces as the similar M4 coupé, either.

Classic & Sports Car – Future classic: BMW M3 Touring

The BMW M3 Touring’s mix of practicality and sports-car capability is impressive

The M3 Touring benefits from all of the practical touches of a regular 3 Series wagon, too, including the opening rear window and a rising luggage net that can be attached to the ceiling.

Many will likely rue the fact that the car wears the M3/M4’s aggressive grille, unlike other Touring models, although you notice it less when you specify a darker colour.

The M3 Touring will go down in history not only as the first M3 estate, but also, almost certainly, as the only one with a pure internal-combustion engine.

Much like the E34 M5 Touring, it will be viewed as a curiosity that happens to be one of BMW’s most capable all-rounders, with blistering performance and balanced handling merged with daily utility.

Images: John Bradshaw


  • Engine 2993cc turbo ‘six’; 503bhp @ 6250rpm; 479lb ft @ 2750-5500rpm
  • Transmission eight-speed auto, RWD
  • 0-60mph 3.6 secs
  • Top speed 174mph
  • Mpg 27
  • Price £100,150

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