Posted Dec 5th 2012 2:57PM
We get giddy like school boys when we have to commute anywhere in Germany. Why? Well, on the Autobahn, we get to go all out and know that the drivers around us understand the protocol of proper traffic flow. No one lingers in the left lane, trucks are all stacked up in the right and if you're doing under 150 km/h, you're in the way! Although, we have driven some of the craziest cars to ever roll-off the line on this high-speed network of German highway, the truth is that it doesn't matter what we are driving, we always have a blast. On this occasion, we pushed a new BMW 328i Touring Sport to the limits at every opportunity.
The F30 3-series as you know, only comes in sedan form currently, so it was a treat to sink our teeth into some forbidden fruit while across the pond. Yes, the new F31 3-series wagon is coming to Canada next Spring but alas, only with the xDrive system. Since it will never arrive here, our time behind the wheel of this RWD Euro-spec wagon could possibly make us the only outlet in Canada to touch it. For our jaunt around Germany, this was an ideal chariot. Plenty of space, cargo room and yes, turbo power. And since it was chilly in Munich for November, the heated seats and wheel added much needed comfort.
While you might recall, we thought the N20 2.0-litre turbo-4 was a total anomaly in the luxurious 528i, we can say that it is right at home in the 3-series. The added vibration and noise of the 4-banger seems off inside 5-series calibre luxury but matches the character of the 3-series just fine. The 8-speed Steptronic is a thing of beauty and enables the 3er to tear up the Autobahn just as well as the stop-n-go grind of Munich rush hour because it adapts to your requirements.
A slick and capable wagon that looks fantastic from every angle, the F31 Touring was everywhere in Germany and have sold well since their September release.
- The 241-ponies are eager and continue to pull at the reigns towards redline the whole time. The low-down grunt is fine by us with 258 lb-ft from 1,250-4,800 rpm to haul around anything you'll ever need to. Although the direct injection can be a bit ticky at idle, the car sounds great under throttle and boost.
- Although there will be no 3.0L twin-turbo planned for the Touring in North America, it isn't likely that you'd need one. As we said with the sedan, the turbo-4 is plenty fine for most folks and performs better with improved fuel economy than the outgoing NA 3.0-litre six. Plus the automatic only option is a snappy 8-speed Steptronic with paddles that we would enjoy driving daily.
- The chassis has been improved in this F31 Touring as well. It is 10 per cent stiffer than the E90 version and is 40 kg (90-pounds) lighter than it's predecessor despite being wider and 94mm (3.7-inches) longer. Another win here meaning improved handling and economy (as well as interior space) with these design tweaks.
- Naturally, we had the vehicle in Sport+ with DSC off for the majority of our time in this Sport wagon. The transmission will hold revs longer and the control of the unassisted RWD car is predictable and attacks the curves with loads of vigor. We found the Sport suspension to be very up to the task and proof to all of North America that wagons can be thrilling to.
- Don't expect many variations of the Touring and just be thankful it gets here at all. It will only be available as an xDrive. There will be no 335i version, no 6-speed manual and a diesel is a big, fat, maybe. Since the buying public doesn't embrace wagons but rather opts for SUVs, crossovers and SUVs that become cross-overs, it will limit the options that we'll have in a sound wagon like this.
- The interior cabin was exactly what we expected after driving the F30 sedan. From the front seats forward, it's the same car but in the back we find excellent rear seating with plenty of leg and head room. These rears fold down in a 40:20:40 nice and flat and the cross member is a two-piece design to make it lighter to remove and handle. The end result is converting to 495 litres (17.5 cubic feet) to 1500 litres (53 cubic feet) of cargo space!
- Yeah, but can it shred up the Autobahn? Oh yes, we pushed it near the 200 km/h marker for the most part and even touched 240 km/h when the curves disappeared. Fast, stable and capable we drove the F31 from Munich to neighbouring, Ingolstadt and covered the 90 km journey in under 30 minutes! Pure joy!