BMW M3 Touring (2023) review
The BMW M3 estate is finally a thing. Will it be the car petrolheads were hoping for?
James Fossdyke
James Fossdyke

Published on February 26, 2023

After a host of false dawns and years of crossed fingers, BMW's decision to officially launch an estate version of the M3 super-saloon was met with glee. But while enthusiasts around the world celebrated, there was a nagging question in the back of our minds. Would this more spacious version of the M3 Competition be the car we were hoping for, or would it turn out to be a crushing disappointment? There's only one way to find out...

In the metal

Although it might have been a surprise when BMW finally confirmed that it was going to build an M3 Touring, it was no surprise to see the car in the metal. Take the basic shape of a 320d Touring and add the sporty features of an M3 Competition saloon and you're essentially there, albeit with a few slight differences in terms of the roof and suchlike.

That means the M3 Competition xDrive Touring (now we've honoured it with its full name we'll call it the M3 Touring for the sake of brevity) has *that* front end, with the enormous nostrils and gaping air intakes, as well as the sculpted bonnet. We have to admit familiarity is breeding fondness where that new nose is concerned, and it doesn't feel nearly as offensive as we first thought - although pictures don't necessarily do it many favours.

Aside from that, the M3 Touring is quite a good-looking thing, particularly from the side or the rear quarter. It gets the same flared arches as the M3 saloon and the same little gills behind the front wheels, as well as the same side skirts. At the rear, there's the same four-outlet exhaust and the pronounced aerodynamic diffuser, while a very similar rear spoiler has been plonked atop the 3 Series tailgate.

The interior is pretty similar, too, with the cabin dominated by BMW's Curved Display. The single wide housing includes the touchscreen infotainment system and the digital instrument cluster, which sits behind the steering wheel. That's par for the course in latest-generation 3 Series and 4 Series models, including the M cars, but the high-performance models are differentiated slightly.

Not only do you get some red buttons on the centre console and the steering wheel, but there's a model-specific gear lever and carbon-fibre trim lines the dashboard. There are some fabulous gear shift paddles behind the steering wheel, too, complete with rubberised grips, and you get M-specific seats with big bolsters to hold you in place.

If you want, you can swap these for carbon-backed bucket seats, which look spectacular and hold you in even more tightly, but we can only assume forcing someone to get out would be illegal under the torture rules laid out by the European Convention on Human Rights: it's deeply uncomfortable. The problem is, staying in the seats for longer than about two hours is even more uncomfortable, so you're faced with an unappealing choice. It's probably better, when all is said and done, to stick with the standard seats.

Seats aside, the M3's cabin is of incredibly high quality, with plenty of luxurious materials and a very German sense that everything is perfectly matched up. However, there are a couple of issues, including the plethora of buttons around the gear lever, and the climate control system, which BMW has incorporated into the touchscreen. Pretty much all our writers have, at one point or another, lamented the passing of conventional heater controls, and our criticisms remain the same. Although the BMW system is better than most, it's still clunkier to use and more distracting than a physical switch.

That said, the same criticisms can be applied to the M3 saloon, and it isn't all bad news. We're big fans of the M3's head-up display and instrument cluster, for example, and the touchscreen isn't bad either. It's logically laid out, it looks good and you still get the iDrive rotary controller on the centre console, which allows you to operate the system by touch once you get used to it.

While all this carry-over from the M3 saloon may be a little dull, the whole point is that the M3 Touring feels much the same as the four-door M3, except in one crucial area. Thanks to the estate body, the M3 Touring is more practical than its saloon-shaped sibling, even if the numbers suggest the difference is minimal. The M3 Touring's boot measures 500 litres, which is just 20 litres more than you'll find in the back of a M3 saloon. However, the proper tailgate and the space above the window line means the figures are misleading. The Touring is still considerably better at lugging bulky items around than its sibling cars.

Then there's the question of interior space. Although the M3 saloon is not what you'd call stingy when it comes to accommodating rear-seat passengers, the Touring body offers a little more headroom. The difference isn't enormous, but taller passengers will thank you for that extra bit of clearance.

Driving it

Unsurprisingly, the M3 Touring gets exactly the same engine as the M3 saloon, which means there's a 3.0-litre straight-six lurking under the bonnet. With two turbochargers and 510hp, it provides 'ample' pulling power. But unlike the M3 saloon, which is available with a choice of rear- and all-wheel-drive systems, the M3 Touring is only available with the all-wheel-drive xDrive system and the standard eight-speed automatic gearbox.

The advantage of all-wheel drive is, of course, extra traction, so the xDrive cars can put their power down much more easily in any conditions. As a result, the M3 estate is ballistically quick, getting from 0-100km/h in 3.6 seconds, which is three tenths faster than a standard, rear-wheel-drive M3 saloon. However, the estate body weighs an extra 85kg compared with the saloon, so the M3 Touring is still a tenth of a second slower than that of the all-wheel-drive M3 saloon. That said, the bulkier body makes little difference in terms of top speed, with every M3 limited to 250km/h as standard, while the M Driver's Pack lifts that to 280km/h. Not that such a thing is relevant to real-world driving.

BMW has certainly delivered in terms of performance, then, but the way the M3 Touring feels is particularly impressive. It has the same snarl and ferocity as the M3 saloon, and the all-wheel-drive system is just as effective at maintaining traction. Even in greasy and damp conditions the car can still catapult itself towards the horizon at an alarming rate of knots.

And it comes with the same driving modes that allow you to tune it depending on what you're doing. The standard Comfort setting gives you the softest suspension, which is great for long distances and motorway cruising, but still feels a little stiff at lower speeds and it lacks a little body control when you chuck the car around. Comfort settings don't show the steering or brakes in their best light, though, with marginally more positivity to be found from the Sport settings.

Opting for Sport or Sport Plus has a predictable effect on the suspension, though, with even less compliance around town but much more body control at higher speeds. Turn up the wick on the suspension and even the heavy estate body won't lean too much in corners. Concentrate hard and you might notice a little more of an attempt to tug the rear end away from the inside of the bend, but it's a minor difference compared with the saloon.

Happily, the M3 allows you to mix and match these settings to suit your needs, so you can choose comfort suspension while still enjoying the sportier steering and brake. And that isn't all you can tune, with three different levels for gear shift ferocity and three modes for the all-wheel-drive system. The standard setting is great, offering loads of traction at any given moment, but the 4WD Sport setting offers a more rear-biased setup for slightly more sideways antics on track. Or you can switch the car into rear-drive mode for an even more visceral experience, aided by a traction control system with 10 different levels of slip.

Once you find the setting(s) that work(s) for you, though, the M3 Touring becomes an all-round rockstar. It handles beautifully, with lovely balance courtesy of the controls, the power delivery and the weight distribution, while there's ample capability in the rain or even snow. The traction is monstrous, the performance is intoxicating and the ride is good enough to prevent long journeys feeling like a chore. In short, it's almost exactly like the M3 saloon.

What you get for your money

BMW Ireland is charging the princely sum of €153,415 for the new M3 Touring, and although that's only €5,000 more than an all-wheel-drive M3, it's still a lot of money. Of course, some of that is down to the Irish tax system, but the fact remains that the M3 Touring costs about €25,000 more than the Audi RS 4 Avant - a car with similar performance, space and quality.

Still, the M3 Touring is considerably newer, and you get plenty of standard equipment. The Curved Display infotainment system is standard on all M3s, and that comes with navigation, climate control and the Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone integration systems. You get full leather upholstery, too, and carbon-fibre decorative trim, although you get plenty of options to choose from.

The carbon-fibre exterior trim is part of a €12,940 pack that also includes carbon bucket seats, while you can also choose the €15,322 M Pro Pack, which includes carbon-ceramic brakes with gold callipers, as well as the M Driver's Pack. On its own, the driver's pack would be a €4,207 option, offering customers an increased top speed and BMW driver training. In short, the M3 Touring can get very expensive indeed.


The new BMW M3 Competition Touring is every bit as good as we hoped it would be. Yes, it's expensive, and yes, the four-door saloon is fractionally better to drive on the limit, but the estate fights back with ample cabin space and a bigger boot. For 99 per cent of the time, the M3 Touring is better than the M3 saloon, and for the remaining one per cent, it's very nearly as good. All of which means that this isn't just the best M3 you can buy, it's one of the best drivers' cars you can buy, full stop.


Tech Specs

Model testedBMW M3 Competition xDrive Touring
Irish pricing€153,415
Engine3.0-litre turbocharged straight-six petrol
Transmissioneight-speed automatic, all-wheel drive
Body stylefive-door, five-seat estate
CO2 emissions230-234g/km
Irish motor tax€2,400 per year
Fuel consumption10.2-10.4 litres/100km (27.2-27.7mpg)
Top speed250km/h (280km/h with M Driver's Package)
0-100km/h3.6 seconds
Max power510hp
Max torque650Nm
Boot space500-1,510 litres
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