There’s one BMW that really does catch our attention the most and it’s not one of the wicked fast M-cars. It’s the 3-series sports wagon. It’s one of the rarest gems you’ll find in BMW line-up that we think is worth paying the premium for. Even if it means passing up the better X-range of sport utility vehicles; here’s why.
Performance: There are two engines to choose from. The 328i has the 2-liter turbocharged four-cylinder producing 240hp while the 328d has a 2-liter turbo-diesel producing 180hp. If you do tons of highway driving the 328d makes the most sense financially. Otherwise the 328i will suit most buyers.
On the road: We have yet to test drive a BMW with the standard suspension. Our tester car came equipped with the pricey adaptive M Sport Suspension and it really does make the 3-series wagon dreamy to drive. Handling is excellent and steering is responsive with plenty of feedback. The standard xDrive offers traction at the bucket loads. Both engines don’t really sound great at idle. Even the gasoline counterpart sounds like a diesel at idle. Wind and road noise however is well suppressed.
Behind the wheel: There’s plenty of room for the driver to get comfortable. The steering wheel and seat offers plenty of adjustments. Most functions are operated through BMW’s iDrive system which has been vastly improved. It’s much easier to operate and really does beat Mercedes system by a long shot. Passenger space in the rear seat isn’t huge but if you are willing to share the space it is bearable. The boot offers plenty of space but becomes enormous when the rear seats are folded down.
Equipment: Engine stop/start system, auto dimming rearview mirror and electric interior tailgate release all come standard. You’ll have to pay extra for xenon-headlamps, comfort access and the adaptive M Sport Suspension which we think is an option worth having if you want the most engaging driving experience with your 3-series wagon.
Buying & owning: The 3-series wagon is expensive and there’s no hiding that fact. But compared to its rival the Volvo V60, the 3-series offers slightly better fuel economy thanks to the diesel engine and will hold its value well partially thanks to the fact that a 3-series wagon is very hard to find on dealer lots.
Quality & safety: The interior feels very upscale and classy. Much of the materials used feel long lasting and durable. BMW has had a very respectable reliability record with the 3-series. So we see no major issues for it. However we strongly suggest an extended warranty if you are planning to keep the 3-series long after the standard warranty is over. Standard safety kit includes stability control, traction control and anti-lock brakes. Six airbags come standard as well. All 3-series come with theft deterrent system as well as deadlocks to keep theft away. However you want to keep in mind that an alarm system is only offered as an option.
The BMW 3-series wagon is a great alternative to the large range of sport utility vehicles and crossovers out there. If you want an engaging vehicle that’s lighter and much more fun to drive, the 3-series wagon clicks all the right buttons. However you’ll have to pay extra for the adaptive M Sport suspension to make it ride and handle the way it should. You could pick one of the X-range sport utility vehicles, but none of them have the appeal of the 3-series wagon. This is why we think it’s the best of the 3-series range.
Likes: It’s the most practical and stylish 3-series of the range. Turbo-diesel engine option is the way to go.
Dislikes: We have yet to drive a BMW with the standard suspension and from what we’ve heard it’s disappointing; it’s expensive compared to the Volvo V60 the only other real competitor it has.
Devon’s Choice: The 328d makes the most sense because most owners will do tons of highway driving. Thus picking the diesel in this case is a no brainer. Plus it’s much more efficient than the gasoline engine. Only downside is you'll have to pay extra for the adaptive M Sport suspension so it rides and handles the way it should.