ON THE ROAD – IAN LYNAS PREVIEWS THE NEW BMW M3 TOURING
A Touring model in M3 guise from BMW is sure to raise pulse rates, offering an intoxicating blend of exhilarating performance and practicality. The new model is available exclusively in Competition guise with the M xDrive all-wheel-drive system. Beneath the bonnet a 510bhp six-cylinder in-line engine with M TwinPower Turbo technology allied with an eight-speed M Steptronic transmission with Drivelogic, split between the four wheels as required.
No surprise, the M3 Touring delivers blistering performance at all times both on the road and on the track. Rest to 100kph 62mph) in 3.6 seconds and on to a top speed of 280kph (174mph). Agility and precision in the familiar BMW M tradition combine with unrestricted everyday practicality to give this new member of the M family a distinctive identity showcased by its exterior design. This Touring model is immediately recognisable as a member of the M3 family. At its centre is the vertical black frameless kidney grille dropping down towards the road, its horizontally arranged M-typical double bars carrying the M3 Competition badge. The large intakes positioned in the lower section of the front apron optimise the supply of air to the drive components and braking system. The apertures are each split into two sections and have honeycomb mesh covers. Viewed from side, the distinctive proportions of the Touring blend with its flared wheel arches, characteristic M gills and extended side skirts. Together with the attachment parts for the front and rear aprons, the sills form a black high-gloss band around the car. This racing-inspired body element teams up with the front spoiler lip, aero flics for the air curtains and brace covers in the underbody area to enhance the car’s aerodynamic balance. Full-LED headlights with U-shaped fibre-optic light guides for the daytime driving lights are standard as are BMW Individual lights Shadow Line with darkened inlays adorning their upper edges. BMW Laserlight is available as part of the Visibility package and can be identified by the blue inlays inside the headlight units. It includes the cornering light and adaptive cornering functions with variable road illumination optimised for urban and motorway driving, plus the BMW Selective Beam non-dazzling High-beam Assistant. At speeds above 60kph (37mph), BMW Laserlight increases high-beam range to a maximum 550 metres and follows the course of the road dynamically.
The sports style of the exterior flows through to the interior, the cockpit design combines with M-specific design features including red colour accents for the M buttons on the M leather steering wheel and the Start/Stop button on the centre console. The gear selector lever with Drivelogic switch has a leather surface with embedded M logo and stitching in BMW M colours. It also features an eye-catching cut-out with integrated cascade lighting. An anthracite-coloured BMW M headliner and interior trim strips in carbon fibre high-gloss are standard. The Merino leather-trimmed M Sport seats fitted as standard in the front include multi-way electric adjustment with a memory function, and are also heated. M seat belts with a woven stripe pattern in BMW M colours are also included. The Curved Display is made up of a 12.3-inch information display behind the steering wheel and a control display of 14.9 inches, which merge into a single fully digital and high-resolution unit behind a frameless glass surface angled towards the driver. This display enables the number of buttons and controls to be significantly reduced, with the BMW Intelligent Personal Assistant and BMW Operating System 8 permitting intuitive operation using voice control and the touchscreen. The cloud-based BMW maps navigation system forms part of the standard Live Cockpit Professional, which also adds the head-up display with M specific readouts. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto come as standard as does wireless charging.
All very well majoring on the performance aspect of this new model, but those who get their driving hands on one will also appreciate and enjoy its practical side. The M3 was developed by the motorsport division and M3 models have been produced for every generation of 3 Series since the E30 M3 was introduced in 1986. The initial model was available in a coupe body style, with a convertible body style added soon after. The addition of the new Touring adds a welcome chapter to what has become one of the most desired model ranges ever to come from BMW.