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2023 BMW M3 Touring Review: Practically Perfect?


ProsConsVerdict
Practical, fun to drive, full of technology, fuel-efficient, yet incredibly quick in a straight line. What’s not to love about the BMW M3 Touring?For such a practical vehicle, it’s not the most comfortable for long journeys and clearly leans towards performance over comfort. Still looks a bit ‘busy’ and the carbon bucket seats are a love-hate relationship.The BMW M3 Touring is the best wagon in the world right now. There’s virtually no trade-off in any aspect of the car.

Overview

The M3 Touring is what happens when you take the sportiest, most recognisable namesake in the BMW M division stable and turn it into a practical wagon without removing any of the aforementioned sharpness. It’s a recipe for a great, everyday driving experience for enthusiasts and those who seek the sportscar feeling on a daily basis. If it sounds like the perfect everyday car then you’re on the right track.

Priced from AU$180,100 plus on-road costs it’s a bargain when you compare it to cars like the Audi RS 6 (from AU$241,500 plus on-road costs) and is available in Australia exclusively in Competition trim with the xDrive all-wheel-drive system and full-fat 3.0-litre six-cylinder in-line turbo petrol engine producing 375 kW of power and 650Nm of torque.

RELATED: 2023 BMW X7 Review: Part Luxury Limousine, Part Sports SUV.

Price

The BMW M3 Touring is priced from AU$180,100 plus on-road costs in Australia, however, my test car was fitted with a host of options that pushed the price up to $219,000 plus on-road costs. This makes it the second most expensive M3 model in the line-up that starts from $161,300 plus on-road costs for the manual rear-wheel drive car.

  • BMW M3 3.0L Sedan RWD Manual – AU$161,300 plus on-road costs.
  • BMW M3 Competition 3.0L Sedan RWD – AU$171,600 plus on-road costs.
  • BMW M3 Competition 3.0L Sedan 4WD – AU$177,800 plus on-road costs.
  • BMW M3 Competition 3.0L Wagon 4WD – AU$180,100 plus on-road costs.
  • BMW M3 CS 3.0L Sedan 4WD – AU$249,900 plus on-road costs.

Our test car included the following options:

Metallic Paint in ‘Frozen Black’ – $5000
Carbon Ceramic Brakes – $16,500
Carbon Experience Pack – $17,500

  • Carbon-fibre front seats
  • Carbon-fibre exterior elements
  • Voucher for BMW M Driving Experience Advance 1
  • Voucher for BMW M Driving Experience Advance 2
  • Maximum speed increased from 250km/h to 280km/h

The closest competition on paper is the Audi RS 4 Avant ($159,900 plus on-road costs), but in reality, I think you’re better off comparing the Audi RS 6 Avant ($241,500 plus on-road costs) as it’s closer in outright speed.

Bm3 m3 touring engine
The BMW M3 Touring features the same S58 3.0-litre six-cylinder in-line turbocharged engine as the M3 Competition and M4 Competition | Image: BMW

Engine and Transmission

Under the bonnet, the BMW M3 Touring features the same S58 3.0-litre six-cylinder in-line turbocharged engine as the M3 Competition and M4 Competition, producing 375kW of power and 650Nm of torque. 

The long roof feels just as strong as the coupe and sedan counterparts with umpteen amounts of torque and power delivered from low down in the rev range. The accompanying soundtrack is hardly hurt by emissions systems and the exhaust note is one of the best in a new car today.

While the previous generation M3 utilised a DCT transmission, the new generation features an eight-speed torque converter automatic that’s better suited for daily use. If you told me it was a DCT transmission I’d probably believe you as there’s no hesitation up or down the gears. It’s a clever unit with three Drivelogic programs available at the click of a button on the shifter with increased shove felt between shifts.

I’ve long said that the new M3 platform provides all the power you’ll ever need from a new car today and the Touring model follows suit with impressive performance figures. The brand quotes a 0-100 km/h time of 3.6 seconds and a 0-200 km/h takes 12.9 seconds. Opting for the M Driver’s Package increases the electronically limited top speed from 250km/h to 280km/h. Not that you’d need that outside of the Autobahn in Germany.

Bm3 m3 touring on road
BMW spent more than two years refining the suspension and chassis controls of the M3 Touring across a multitude of surfaces | Image: BMW

Ride and Handling

The real test for a quality performance wagon is the way it transitions between a daily driver and a performance car. Only a few brands on the market have proven they can handle such a task; Audi is example A and BMW is example B. After enjoying my time in the venerable RS 6 Avant just weeks prior, would the M3 Touring give me that extra edge I missed in the RS 6?

They’re starting off on the right foot, that’s for sure. BMW spent more than two years refining the suspension and chassis controls of the M3 Touring across a multitude of surfaces including bumpy country roads and racetracks. It doesn’t have the GT capabilities of the RS 6 that offers cloud-like Air Suspension, however, it’s a particularly sharp vehicle by comparison thanks to increased torsional stiffness in the body structure and chassis mountings with model-specific bracing in the underfloor section and load compartment offering a raw and eager “attack any corner” attitude you want from an M3.

Suspension is a clear standout feature with a double-joint spring strut front axle and five-link rear axle that have M-specific tuning for high-speed stability. As expected, the adaptive M suspension with electronically controlled shock absorbers and M Servotronic steering with a variable ratio comes as standard.

Combine this with a clever rear-bias 4WD Sport mode built into BMW’s xDrive system and it transforms the car into a particularly characterful vehicle that you want to drive quicker than any Audi.

If you’re a maniac, you can even switch the car into 2WD mode and explore all 10 stages of wheel slip limiting that’s been built into the system. Closed-circuit skids can be had by switching off DSC (Dynamic Stability Control) which switches the M3 Touring into rear-wheel-drive for plenty of naughty drifts that can be analysed with the ‘M Drift Analyser’ displaying angle and length of drift before giving you a star rating.

Two pedal feels are available and our test car came with optional M Carbon Ceramic Brakes priced at $16,500. They work unbelievably well once they get up to temp, however, I’ve never had an issue with the standard M Compound braking system on the street, even when pushing the limits of responsible driving.

Staggered M-performance wheels are standard with 19-inch wheels up front and 20-inch wheels in the rear. Track tires can be optioned.

Interior and Comfort

With the optional M Carbon Experience ($17,500) the interior of the M3 Touring feels particularly exotic and very special. I hear a lot of people whinging about the M Carbon bucket seats up front, but as a 6ft bloke with a larger build, I had absolutely no issue road-tripping these seats for 3 hours. They add a sense of occasion and I recommend ticking this option if you want to experience the racecar feel every time you sit in the car.

Electrically adjustable M Sport seats with memory function, seat heating, and Merino leather trim come as standard and we recommend these seats for those who are looking to drive the car every single day as the carbon buckets can become a headache with daily use.

The folding rear seats transform the M3 Touring’s rear load capacity from 500 litres to 1510 litres. In fact, the only problem with the M3 Touring is the amount of space you have to fill to stop things from moving around when you’re driving hard.

Bmw m3 touring interior dashboard
BMW has added the new OS 8.0 operating system with 27 inches of screen real estate to the M3 Touring| Image: Ben McKimm / Man of Many

Infotainment

Since I last drove the M4 Competition BMW has added the new OS 8.0 operating system with 27-inches of screen real estate to the BMW 3-series line-up, including the M3 Touring. While I had a chance to experience the huge screen in the BMW iX xDrive50 SUV, this new application finds M-specific display graphics alongside the M widgets that show power, boost, pressure, and even tire condition. I also loved the M Specific heads-up display will also make its debut alongside the new system.

The larger 14.9-inch screen of the OS 8.0 operating system displays both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto in full-screen configurations over a wireless connection. There’s almost a total lack of physical buttons on the dashboard, however, BMW has done a good job of using large icons on the touch-screen to control climate, seat-heating, and recirculation.

Safety and Driver Assistance Features

The BMW M3 Touring has not been tested by Australian ANCAP or Euro NCAP. However, the standard BMW 3 Series range on which the M3 Touring is based was given the full 5 stars by ANCAP in 2019. We’d expect a similar result should ANCAP decide to test the car, given it offers a suite of airbags and safety features, including:

  • Adaptive cruise control
  • Airbags
  • Autonomous emergency braking
  • Auto parking
  • Blind spot alert
  • Collision warning
  • Electronic stability control
  • Lane departure warning
  • Parking cameras (multiple)
  • Parking sensors
  • Rain sensing wipers
  • Rear cross-traffic alert
  • Rear parking camera
  • Speed limiter
  • Tyre pressure monitoring

Warranty and Servicing in Australia

The BMW M3 Touring is covered by the brand’s 5-year/unlimited-kilometre warranty and you can purchase a 5-year/80,000km service plan for $4436.

Bmw m3 touring next to house 2
The BMW M3 Touring is a true ‘halo car’ | Image: Ben McKimm / Man of Many

Verdict

The BMW M3 Touring is THE wagon to have. It’s the best combination of all worlds and with the select enhancements to the chassis, particularly the added torsional rigidity, you often forget there’s 1500 litres of boot capacity to stuff your luggage into back there.

It has all the makings of a ‘halo car’ with the brand’s best engine, chassis controls, all-wheel drive system, technology, and safety. Yeah, you can get a ‘softer’ car that’s better suited for long journeys across the country, but I’d trade a little stiffness for an enjoyable drive in the twisties every day of the week.

Put simply, the BMW M3 Touring delivers an unmatched experience in wagon land.

Standard Features List

The standard specification for the BMW M3 Touring has been revealed and includes the following:

  • 19-inch/20-inch M light alloy wheels
  • Active M Differential
  • Adaptive M Suspension
  • Ambient light
  • Automatic climate control, 3-zone
  • Automatic operation of the tailgate
  • BMW Head-Up Display
  • BMW Laserlight incl. High Beam Assistant
  • BMW Live Cockpit Professional with 12.3” Instrument Display and 14.9” Control Display
  • BMW Operating System 8
  • BMW M 50 year anniversary badging
  • Comfort Access system incl. BMW Digital Key
  • Connected Package Professional
  • DAB+ digital radio
  • Driving Assistant Professional
  • Electric seat adjustment
  • Full Leather ‘Merino’ Upholstery
  • Galvanic embellishers for controls
  • harman/kardon Surround Sound System
  • Luggage compartment package
  • Lumbar Support for driver and front passenger
  • M Compound Brake, Blue
  • M Drive Professional
  • M high-gloss Shadowline with extended contents
  • M interior trim finishers Carbon Fibre
  • M Lights Shadowline
  • M seat belts
  • M Sport Seats for driver and front passenger
  • Metallic paintwork
  • Parking Assistant Plus
  • Seat Heating for driver and front passenger
  • Smartphone integration with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay
  • Steering wheel heating
  • Storage compartment package
  • Tyre pressure monitoring system
  • Wireless smartphone charging

Optional Equipment List

Optional Equipment for the 2023 BMW M3 Touring includes the following:

M Carbon Experience ($17,500 AUD) that includes:

  • M Carbon bucket seats
    • 9.6kg weight reduction
    • Cut-outs in the rear seat backrest, side sections and functional belt guides for multi-point seat belts
    • Visible carbon surfaces across back sections
    • Removable headrest cover for additional helmet space
  • M Carbon exterior package
    • Mirror caps in CFRP
    • Side inlets in the front bumper with CFRP frame structure
    • A rear diffuser insert in CFRP
  • BMW M Driving Experience Advance 1
    • Voucher for BMW M Driving Experience Advance 1 course at BMW Driving Experience
  • M Driver’s package
    • Vmax increase from 250 km/h to 280 km/h
    • Voucher for BMW M Driving Experience Advance 2 course at BMW Driving Experience

M Carbon ceramic brakes (16,500 AUD) that include:

  • Increased fade stability and thermal stability
  • High wear resistance and corrosion resistance
  • Reduction in rotating wheel masses
  • M lettering
  • Front axle: 6-piston fixed-calliper brake, painted gold matt carbon-ceramic brake disc 400mm×38mm, internally ventilated and perforated
  • Rear axle: 1-piston floating-calliper brake, painted gold matt, incl. integrated parking brake carbon-ceramic brake disc 380mm×36mm, internally ventilated and perforated.

Note: The BMW M3 Touring is fitted with the M Compound brake system that features blue callipers as standard. High-gloss red or high-gloss black callipers are available as no-cost options.

Exterior Paint Finishes include:

  • Non-metallic paintwork (no cost options)
    • Alpine White
    • Sao Paulo Yellow
  • Metallic paintwork (no cost options)
    • Black Sapphire
    • M Portimao Blue
    • M Toronto Red
    • M Isle of Man Green
    • M Brooklyn Grey
    • Skyscraper Grey
    • Aventurine Red
  • BMW Individual paintwork
    • Dravit Grey ($2500)
    • Tanzanite Blue ($2500)
    • Frozen Portimao Blue metallic ($5000)
    • Frozen Pure Grey metallic ($5000)
    • Frozen Black metallic ($5000)
    • Frozen Orange metallic ($5000)
    • Frozen Brilliant White Metallic ($7000)

Interior Options on the BMW M3 Touring include:

  • Full Leather ‘Merino’ (no cost option) in the following colours.
    • Yas Marina Blue/Black
    • Silverstone/Black
    • Kyalami Orange/Black
    • Black/Black
  • BMW Individual Full Leather ‘Merino’ in the following colours.
    • Fiona Red/Black($1000 or $3000 with Carbon seats)
    • Tartufo ($1000)
    • Ivory White ($1000 or $3000 with Carbon seats)
    • Fjord Blue/Black($1000 or $3000 with Carbon seats)

Alloy wheel options (all no-cost options) include.

  • 19-inch/20-inch M forged wheels Double-spoke style 825 M Bicolour Black with mixed tyres.
  • 19-inch/20-inch M forged wheels Double-spoke style 825 M Orbit Grey matt with mixed tyres.
  • 19-inch/20-inch M forged wheels Double-spoke style 826 M Bicolour Black with mixed tyres.
  • 19-inch/20-inch M forged wheels Double-spoke style 826 M Black with mixed tyres.