Adding extra roof to the next Bavarian standard

If you want a bit more practicality than the new 2020 BMW 3-Series sedan can offer, then the logical step is the even newer 2020 3-Series Touring. As with previous incarnations of the model, it promises the same sporty drive as the three-box sedan, but with a bit more family friendly practicality and a bigger trunk to fit more stuff into.

The all-new G21 3-Series Touring looks noticeably more imposing than the car it replaces. This is a byproduct of its even longer nose and A-pillars that have been pushed further back. Its front and rear fascias are considerably more modern than those of the F31 which in turn weren’t hugely different to the E90 model before that; in other words, the visual difference between the F31 and the new G21 is far bigger than the one noted from E91 to F31.

The same can be said of the new G21’s interior compared to that of the F31 (whose interior had really started to look dated over the past few years). It is not only more modern and packed with fresh features, but perceived quality has been improved too - overall, it’s a much nicer place to sit and since this is a review of the wagon variant of the new 3-Series, you’ll be happy to note that practicality has been enhanced too.

Continue reading to learn more about the 2020 BMW 3 Series Touring.

2020 BMW 3 Series Touring Exterior Styling

  • Looks almost identical to sedan model
  • Similar aesthetic as updated 5 Series
  • Should gain incremental dimensions increase
  • Reshaped intakes up front
  • LED lighting elements front to back
  • Standard 17-inch alloy wheels
  • Roof rails up top
  • Newly reshaped taillights
  • Polished metal chrome trim
  • M Performance pack adds extra aggression

The 2020 BMW 3-Series Touring is pretty much identical to the sedan up to the B-pillar, where the wagon shape sees the roofline extended further back. The sedan is a looker in person and the estate is easily just as good looking as the three-box, with its swept back greenhouse, phallic front end and excellent planted stance.

If you park the new G21 Touring alongside the older F31 Touring, you will also spot that it is longer, wider and taller than the car it replaces. This doesn’t quite make the new 3 Touring feel as big as a 5-Series Touring, but it actually looks like it’s somewhere in between.

Its front fascia is identical to that of the sedan, dominated by wide headlight clusters that have a notch on the bottom to pay homage to the much-loved E46 3-Series of the 1990s and early 2000s. The grille, while bigger than on the F31, it does not look oversized or out of place - it’s clearly a styling choice to make it as big as it has become, especially since it has active slats and stays closed off most of the time.

From the side, the new 2020 3-Series Touring looks very good - I think it’s its best angle. The relation between how much hood it has, the shape and location of the greenhouse and where the wheels are placed just makes it all rather lovely to behold. I’ve rarely been tempted to call a wagon style vehicle beautiful, but this is so far the closest I’ve come.

And it doesn’t look bad from a rear three-quarter perspective either. The Hofmeister kink looks even better on the Touring model (since there is more side glass) and the car looks like it has wider flanks than the sedan (even though it doesn’t). Overall, there’s little to complain from a visual standpoint - I’d go so far as to say this is the prettiest 3-Series Touring ever, especially from the side and back.

Special attention needs to be paid to its blade-style rear light clusters. These are probably the best looking taillights of any current BMW. They emphasize the car’s width and add to the planted looking stance. All 3-Series versions shown so far feature twin exhausts poling through the bottom of the rear bumper and these are set quite wide apart - they really look nice and further emphasize the car’s width; they might be pointless on something like the 320d, but they do look cool and are not fake like on some other rival models.

The 2020 BMW 3-Series Touring is bigger in every single way compared to the model it replaces. Its wheelbase has been stretched from 2,810 millimeters to 2,851 millimeters and BMW says this has allowed engineers to come up with more usable space for rear occupants. In terms of overall length, the new car is 4,709 millimeters long, which means it’s 85 millimeters longer than before, and at 1,827 millimeters wide, it’s 16 millimeters wider too. Even height has increased, from 1,429 millimeters to 1,440 millimeters (up by 11 millimeters).

BMW says that despite the fact it’s bigger than the outgoing F31 3-Series Touring, the G21 is actually a bit lighter. I compared specs for the 320d model of both generations and calculated that the new one is exactly the same weight as the old one. That’s still a feat given that it is a bigger car, but it’s certainly note one of the versions of new 3-Series wagon that’s lighter than the one it replaces.

2020 BMW 3 Series Touring Interior Design

  • Pulls from 3 Series sedan for look and layout
  • Inspired by the 8 Series and X5
  • Digital instrumentation
  • New infotainment tech
  • Latest driver assist tech
  • High-end materials throughout
  • Still loads of space in the rear
2019 BMW 3 Series Interior Spyshots
- image 684260

Note: pre-production 2019 BMW 3 Series sedan pictured here.

If you’ve just jumped out of a F30/F31 3-Series and into the new G20/G21, then you will immediately notice several big improvements. The first is just the more modern feel of the dashboard brought about by the choice of materials, the switchgear and buttons and the overall design. If the example you’ve just boarded is a well specced one, with the optional digital gauge cluster and the larger of the two infotainment screens, it will seem leaps and bounds ahead of the old car.

The design of the dashboard is a huge step up compared to the F31. Sure, you can still see it’s a BMW 3-Series, but one whose look and feel is far more contemporary. Even if the car is not equipped with the optional digital cluster or the larger screen, it still looks better inside than a fully optioned out F31.
It also comes with the new-design steering wheels from BMW and while most of them are great to look at and hold, the optional M Sport helm is not as pretty as the one you got on the old F30/F31 generation 3-Series. The new M Sport wheel has a narrower rim and its design is nowhere near as eye catching - it doesn’t really look any better than the standard wheel the base car comes with.

Another negative has to be the look and feel of the selector for the automatic gearbox. The glossy plastic material it’s made out of just feels cheap and nasty, both to look and and to hold and it is surprising that BMW allowed for such a low rent looking part to make the cut in an otherwise very successful compact premium car interior.

There is also a lot of metal-like trim material in various places and it looks nice and even fools you into thinking it’s actual metal. However, it lacks the durability of actual metal and it scratches very easily, especially the material that imitates the look and feel of aluminum.

If you’re a long-time BMW driver who has gotten used to the placement of the starter button to the right of the steering wheel, you will often find yourself pressing on a blank piece of plastic. The button has been inexplicably moved to the center tunnel, to the left of the gear selector. It’s not an inherently bad position, but it just looks like BMW is copying Audi here and it really didn’t need to, because overall the G21’s interior is a success.

I mean they paid attention to reproduce the Hofmeister kink in the interior door handles, but they couldn’t find a way to keep the starter button where people who have been driving their cars for well over a decade have been used to finding it.

But a car’s interior is designed to be comfortable and inviting for its occupants and in this respect it’s very good. Space and comfort levels in the front were never an issue, but taller passengers ran the risk of feeling cramped in the back - particularly, they lacked sufficient knee room and because of how low the front seats could be set, space under the front seats was also not enough for some people with bigger shoes to slide their feet under it.

BMW does say that shoulder room and headroom have grown for all passengers, regardless of where they sit and that you can now have up to three child seats in the back seat. Rear legroom has also been increased (thanks to the stretched wheelbase) and the automaker also mentions it has eased access to the rear by making the door opening bigger and the door itself open wider.

Since the G21 is a wagon, it needs to excel when it comes to practicality. The 3-Series wagon was never the practical choice, it was just more practical than the sedan variant, but BMW says the new one is genuinely good at carrying stuff. The automaker points to the standard electric tailgate whose glass part can be opened separately and once fully open, it reveals an aperture that’s 112 millimeters wider and 30 millimeters higher. The load lip you have to lift cargo over into the trunk has also been lowered.

Actual load volume is just 5 liters up on the F31 and is officially rated at exactly 500 liters with the rear seat backs in place. Once they are folded down, that increases to 1,510 liters. But you don’t have to fold the entire bench down at once, because it has a 40 : 20 : 40 split that allows for versatility - you will be able to carry some longer items in the back while also carrying at least one passenger too.

Finally, BMW is for the first time offering optional anti-slip rails. The automaker is proud to mention no other competing load lugger has this feature and explains they “automatically extend when the tailgate is closed and prevent cargo from sliding around during the journey.”

2020 BMW 3 Series Touring Drivetrain And Performance

  • Same engine lineup as the sedan model
  • Turbocharged four- and six-cylinders
  • Hybrid a strong possibility
  • No more diesel
  • Eight-speed automatic transmission
  • AWD as standard in the U.S., RWD everywhere else
  • New CLAR architecture underneath
  • Lower curb weight
  • Adaptive suspension components
2020 BMW 3 Series Touring Spyshots
- image 785060
The meat and potatoes of the lineup will include turbo gas engines, with most buyers getting into either a 2.0-liter four-cylinder or a 3.0-liter six-cylinder.

Under the hood, the 2020 BMW 3 Series Touring will mount the same powerplants as the standard 3 Series model. The meat and potatoes of the lineup will include gas-burning internal combustion engines sporting turbocharged induction, with most buyers getting into either 2.0-liter four-cylinders, or a 3.0-liter six-cylinder option. It’s possible there will be a super-efficient three-cylinder option offered as well, which will make 135 horsepower from just 1.5 liters of displacement.

Speaking of efficiency, we wouldn’t be surprised if BMW included an option for a hybrid powerplant, possibly carrying over the brand’s iPerformance product range. If the new 3 Series wagon does get a hybrid option, look for it to offer a little bit of all-electric travel range, with possibly up to about 30 miles achieved without any local emissions.

As for the badges, expect a 330i model with a 2.0-liter ‘four, while the 3.0-liter will come with an M340i M Performance badge. The diesel option offered in the past will most likely get the axe going forward.

Output levels will range between 200 horsepower and 265 horsepower, while the range-topping M340i will likely make around 375 horsepower.

Output levels will range between 200 horsepower and 265 horsepower, while the range-topping M340i will likely make around 375 horsepower.

Routing it all will be an eight-speed automatic transmission. Standard spec will include RWD as standard and the option for AWD across the pond. However, here in the U.S., buyers will likely get the 3 Series wagon with standard AWD, given the association most people have between the wagon body style and enhanced practicality. Either way, the extra grip will come from BMW’s upgraded xDrive system.

We’d love it if Bimmer tossed in the option for a proper three-pedal manual as well, but unfortunately, we don’t think it’s all that likely.

What is for sure is that the 3 Series will get the latest Bavarian underpinnings under the skin, specifically BMW’s new CLAR architecture. We first saw CLAR used as the bones for the 7 Series a few years back, and it should provide more stiffness and less weight than the outgoing architecture. To this end, the 3 Series will also get more lightweight and exotic materials, such as carbon fiber-reinforced plastic, magnesium, and aluminum, all of which will cut significant heft from the 3 Series’ final figure. Some rumors point to saving of nearly 90 points compared to the current model.

2020 BMW 3 Series Touring Spyshots
- image 785061
To help it achieve the necessary driving attitude, the 3 Series will come with a set of adaptive suspension components.

To help it achieve the necessary driving attitude, the 3 Series will come with a set of adaptive suspension components, offering either enhanced cornering characteristics, or greater comfort. The 50/50 weight distribution will help it corner more accurately as well, while adaptive and active steering components will complement the package.

Speaking of driving fun, we have to wonder out loud whether or not BMW will create an M3 version of the wagon 3 Series. It’s certainly something we’d love to see, with more power, sharper handling, and a more aggressive exterior, all mated to the enhanced practicality of a wagon body style. Unfortunately, we consider something like that to be highly unlikely, but hey - we can dream, can’t we?

2020 BMW 3 Series Touring Prices

2020 BMW 3 Series Touring Spyshots
- image 786369

The newly updated G20 3 Series is expected to drop later in 2018 for the 2019 model year. However, the new Sports Wagon version is not expected to arrive until some time next year, possibly with sales kicking off in the fall of 2019.

Pricing is likely to remain unchanged from the current numbers. For now, the 2018 3 Series Touring starts at $44,650 for the 330i xDrive, with upgraded trim levels including the Shadow Sport Edition Design starting at $46,000, and the M Sport Design starting at $48,600.

2020 BMW 3 Series Touring Competition

Audi A4 allroad

2017 - 2018 Audi A4 Allroad Quattro High Resolution Exterior
- image 661345

As popular as the BMW 3 Series might be, the Audi A4 can match it blow for blow - and that includes the wagon models. The latest long-roof from the Four Ring brand is called the A4 Allroad, and unlike the Bimmer, the Audi seems to have a greater emphasis on tackling the great outdoors, offering up a taller ride height, skid plate protection front and back, and tough rock-resistant side cladding to ward away any errant bits of terrain. Inside, however, things are much more civilized and refined, with soft-touch materials and cutting-edge technology laid across the cabin space. Making the power is a 2.0-liter TFSI four-cylinder powerplant, which sends it all to the ground via standard Quattro AWD. Pricing starts at $44,500.

Read our full review of the 2018 Audi A4 Allroad.

Volvo V60

2019 Volvo V60 Exterior
- image 770036

When you think wagons and practicality, the name Volvo is bound to pop up eventually, right? Well, the Swedish brand has been on a real tear lately, revamping its image an infusing its lineup with hot designs mated to impressive tech, and the latest V60 wagon is no different. Scheduled to drop early next year, the new V60 offers some stout competition for BMW in the wagon segment, rocking a sleek exterior aesthetic, a unique cabin space, and more than enough space to carry whatever you need it to. Engine options include a variety of gas, diesel, and hybrid powerplants, and safety gear is impressive across the board. Pricing should start at around $40,000.

Read our full review of the2019 Volvo V60.

Final Thoughts

2020 BMW 3 Series Touring Spyshots
- image 785059
There’s still a committed few automakers out there who offer a wagon, and we’re glad BMW ranks among these outliers.

Wagons don’t get a whole lot of love in the U.S. these days, but there’s still a committed few automakers out there who offer the body style. We’re glad BMW ranks among these outliers, and we think the new 3 Series Touring is shaping up to be a solid little offering.

Of course, there’s always room for improvement, especially when it comes to the Bavarians - after all, it doesn’t seem that much of a stretch to put together a go-faster variant for all us whiny enthusiasts, right?

Ok, so the M3 wagon thing probably won’t happen, but at least we can take solace in the fact BMW is extending the life of the wagon into the next-gen 3 Series.

  • Leave it
    • Looks the same as the outgoing model
    • Go-faster variant unlikely
    • Segment isn’t all that popular in the U.S.

Further Reading

2019 BMW 3 Series Exterior Exclusive Renderings Computer Renderings and Photoshop
- image 681321

Read our full speculative review on the 2019 BMW 3 Series.

2016 BMW 3 Series High Resolution Exterior
- image 629400

Read our full review on the current generation BMW 3 Series.

2016 BMW 3 Series Sports Wagon High Resolution Exterior
- image 629437

Read our full review on the current generation BMW 3 Series Sports Wagon.

AUTOMAKER LOGOS - DO NOT DELETE
- image 741745

Read more BMW news.

What do you think?
Show Comments
Car Finder: