BMW M3 Competition Touring review

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BMW's M3 Touring is the M division's very first compact estate. Jonathan Crouch reports.

Ten Second Review

For the first time, BMW brings us a Touring estate version of its M3. Which at last opens up ownership to family buyers of this iconic Munich-made super sports model. Tick off fiery performance, room for a trans-continental road trip and space for one potentially very queasy Labrador.


British buyers love fast estates and they particularly love BMW's M3. Surprising then, that the Munich maker has never married the two things together. Until now. The M3 Touring was launched in late 2022 as part of the celebrations for the company's M division's 50th anniversary.

This is the first time in seven generations of 3 Series that the full-fat M treatment has been applied to the Touring estate body style. Which we've always thought odd given the success over the decades of Audi's RS4 Avant and the Mercedes-AMG C 63 estate. M division estate cars of any kind have in fact been rare - we've only ever had two, based on older E34 and E61 versions of the larger M5, with only the latter ever offered in right hand drive. A concept M3 Touring version of the old E46 3 Series was made, but never productionised. So the introduction of this new M3 Touring is quite an event. Let's take a closer look.

Driving Experience

Like the M3 saloon and the M4 coupe and convertible models, the M3 Touring comes only in 510hp Competition-spec form. And you can only have it with xDrive AWD. The dynamic set-up is pretty much identical to that of the M3 saloon and there's only a fractional acceleration penalty for the extra weight of the extended bodywork. The 62mph sprint time is 3.6s, en route to 174mph with the optional 'M Driver's' package fitted. There's 650Nm of torque from the S58 3.0-litre twin turbo straight six which, as with this model siblings, works through an 8-speed auto gearbox and an active M differential controlling both axles.

That uber-rapid potential is accompanied by a glorious roar from the active sports exhaust, whose soundtrack is one of the things you can alter either via this centre console 'Setup' button or the centre stack display's selectable 'M Menu'. Either way, you get to a screen allowing you to tailor your preferred drive settings and store your two most favoured combinations behind little red 'M1' and 'M2' tabs on the steering wheel - one perhaps for commuting, the other maybe for your favourite backroad. You can alter parameters for engine, transmission and steering; plus there are three 'chassis' options for the suppleness of the Adaptive M suspension with its electronically controlled damping; and two pedal feel settings for the M Compound brakes. Plus there's a centre console 'M Mode' button, which offers 'Road', 'Sport' and 'Track' settings, each of which changes the instrument display and the level of drive assistance system intervention.

Braver folks can use the 'M Menu' to deactivate the DSC traction system and play with the track-orientated 'M Drift Analyser'. BMW's standard 'M Drive Professional' package also includes an 'M Laptimer', plus the brand has also redesigned the cooling and oil supply systems specially for circuit use.

Design and Build

Apart from the extended roofline and boxier rear end, the M3 Touring replicates the look of the M3 saloon. That means large vertical front air intakes, unique bumpers, flared wheel arches, side skirts and a quad-exit exhaust. Wheels are 19-inches in size at the front and 20-inches at the back.

As with the latest versions of other M3 and M4 models, the interior benefits from BMW's latest 8th generation iDrive operating system, which brings a 14.9-inch central infotainment screen bonded to a 12.3-inch instrument monitor, all in a single curved piece of dash-top architecture. There are the usual M car red driving mode selectors on the steering wheel and M-themed upholstery features. Most owners will want to add carbon fibre trim elements and full-carbon bucket front seats.

Two adults will fit reasonably comfortably on the rear bench but it would be a squash for three. As for the estate compartment, well there's 500-litres of boot space (compare that to the 440-llitres available in the M3 saloon), capacity which you can extend in this Touring model by dropping the 40:20:40-split rear bench to free up 1,510-litres. There's a powered tailgate and a rear window that opens separately so that you can more easily put in smaller bags.

Market and Model

BMW says the M3 Touring offers 'variability and generosity in terms of transport capacities for eventful everyday mobility and fast-paced travel activities'. You wouldn't expect any that come cheap and it doesn't - and the asking price (around £86,500) is around £2,500 more than you'd pay for an M3 saloon in xDrive form (that AWD system being mandatory on this estate model). There are the same colour and trim combinations as the sedan too.

Of course, you get a lot for the asking figure, particularly inside where signature M details include red accents for the M buttons on the M leather steering wheel and the start/stop button on the centre console. The selector lever with-Drivelogic switch is leather surfaced with an embedded M logo and stitching in M colours. An anthracite-coloured BMW Individual headliner and interior trim strips in Carbon Fibre High-gloss are standard. Fine-grain Merino black leather trim is standard as are M sport seats, which are electrically adjustable and heated. These seats have pronounced side bolsters, integrated head restraints and an illuminated model badge.

Options include rubberised anti-slip rails that rise up from the boot floor after the tailgate has been closed, preventing items of luggage sliding around when cornering; and buttons to automatically fold the rear seats from the boot. Another highlight of the options list is the M Carbon bucket seats available for the driver and front passenger, which include CFRP in their construction and save 9.6kg over the standard M sport seats. These can be specified on their own or within the M Carbon Package.

Cost of Ownership

BMW has done what it can to make this car's S58 straight six as efficient as it can be and the result of that is a best possible combined fuel figure of 28.0mpg and a CO2 best of 229g/km. as you'd expect, this is much the same as an equivalent M3 saloon or M3 coupe. The BiK Benefit in Kind taxation rate is a lofty 37%. Insurance (group 43E) is as expensive as you'd expect from a car with this sort of potency under the bonnet, so younger drivers ought to ensure they can get halfway sensibly priced cover first.

Residual values should hold up well too; used demand for this rather unique M3 should prove very healthy indeed. On to the warranty package. BMW's warranty only lasts for three years but it includes an Emergency breakdown service and at least it isn't mileage limited - unlike the comparable package you'd get as standard with a rival Audi. You can of course extent the warranty with either monthly or annual payments. There's a three year paintwork warranty and the usual 12 year anti-corrosion warranty.


BMW's previous reticence to rival Mercedes and Audi by producing an estate version of its M3 was difficult to understand. Yes, there were Alpina B3 and D3 Touring models to plug the gap for an uber-quick 3 Series estate, but most potential buyers simply went and bought an RS4 Avant or a C 63 estate instead. Now though, they need to take this M3 Touring very seriously indeed.

This is really the car that customers for the Munich maker's X3 M, X4 M, X5 M and X6 M SUV models ought to be buying. It's so much more satisfying, better looking and agile. Plus visually, you might, like us, think it has more pavement presence than any more conventional M3 or M4. Now all we need is a CSL version...

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