Newspaper article The Chronicle (Toowoomba, Australia)

{A Wagon Full of Surprise} {the Wagon Sure Has Its Groove Back }; BMW's 3 Series Touring Is One of the Sexiest in the Genre and a Facelift Has Made It Even Better

Newspaper article The Chronicle (Toowoomba, Australia)

{A Wagon Full of Surprise} {the Wagon Sure Has Its Groove Back }; BMW's 3 Series Touring Is One of the Sexiest in the Genre and a Facelift Has Made It Even Better

Article excerpt

NOT all wagons have to come with children. Nor do they come standard with a sales rep.

After falling out of favour for being downright boring, the station wagon is back and, a lot like Stella in that movie from the '90s, it's got its groove back.

BMW's 3 Series Touring is one of the sexiest in the genre and a facelift it received in November has added extra value to a platform which has sold in massive volumes across the globe since it was launched.

The whole 3 Series range was given a refresh as part of last year's upgrade, the entry level price rose by $3500 for the sedan but that was accompanied by a whole lot more kit.

With the wagon there's a choice of three in-line petrol engines, a four-cylinder, a standard six-cylinder and a six with twin turbochargers.

No word yet on when a diesel derivative will be available.

This facelifted range has slightly more detailed lines along with new headlamps and rear lights all with an aim to give the car a 3D effect. Our test is in the mid-range 323i version.

Comfort

The cabin's a lovely place to be, with leather upholstery among the highlights. Black gloss trim finish is standard, but we had the optional aluminium across the dash which provided a wonderful offset to the black dials and console.

Everything feels like quality and is within easy reach of the driver, although the iDrive Controller operated from the centre console does require some careful attention during your first introduction.

Air vents are also available in the back seat, where two adults can find comfort with ease.

Road rumble is limited and it cruises quietly on the highway.

Performance and handling

With a sprint time of 0-100km of just under nine seconds, it's no fire-cracker, but then again it's no diesel Gemini either.

Under varying conditions the straight six performs without fuss, and if the need arises for extra poke you can shift the auto across into sport mode or make use of the tiptronic-style control.

The chassis feels taut and you can throw the little wagon around and there's that great rear-wheel drive feel through the steering.

Bumps and undulations are ironed out well.

Rivals

Mercedes Benz C-Class 220 CDI Estate $61,993, Audi A4 Avant 2.0 TDI $57,837, Saab 9-3 SportCombi $55,900.

What do you get?

You do have to pay a little extra for the badge, but that comes with on-road kudos which has become synonymous with the young and successful in recent years.

Standard gear is as you would expect for a car that costs just under $70K, climate controlled air con, CD stereo, leather upholstery, USB/audio interface, on board computer, preparation for Bluetooth mobiles and a multi-function sport steering wheel.

The new 3 Series models have exterior lights package that illuminates the door handles when the unlock button on the key fob is pressed, which also includes puddle, footwell and "ambient" interior lighting. …

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