Vital Stats

Engine:
2.0L Turbo I4
Power:
241 HP / 258 LB-FT
Transmission:
8-Speed Auto
0-60 Time:
6.0 Seconds
Top Speed:
155 MPH (limited)
Drivetrain:
Rear-Wheel Drive
Curb Weight:
3,494 LBS
Seating:
2+3
Cargo:
17.5 / 53.0 CU-FT
MPG:
25.5 City / 42.7 HWY (Euro)
The Best Argument For A Wagon Revival



Each year the remaining air continues to wheeze out of America's longtime love affair with the station wagon. The SUV and crossover have had their way with our sensibilities and there seems no reversing the course. This is sad, but wagons will survive in America, dammit. They always find a way to claw on, no matter how gleefully skeptics keep stepping on their fingers.

A premium wagon will always drive better than a premium SUV or crossover, and the fuel mileage figures will always be noticeably better. Space and comfort? Roughly equal. And nowadays if you want to stand out and be noticed for your incredible wealth of good taste, knowledge and sophistication, a me-too SUV or crossover cannot help you.

So what will we do if the day comes when the last station wagon is gone from U.S. roads? Cry like sissies?

Hell, no. We wagonites will either all move to Europe or hoard spare wagon parts for the coming automotive apocalypse and take impeccable care of our cherished many-windowed relics.

And so it's time to drive the latest BMW 3 Series Sports Wagon – called 3 Series Touring or T-Modell on the old continent – and, right off, we can shout that we love that BMW sees fit to bring the new F31-generation 3 Series wagon to North America... in around April of 2013. Whatever the wait, we'll take it. (Deliveries start in western Europe on September 22nd.) Luckily, the only trim available to test at this Germany drive event was the one that will also sell most in the U.S., the 328i sports wagon.
2014 BMW 3 Series Sports Wagon side view2014 BMW 3 Series Sports Wagon front view2014 BMW 3 Series Sports Wagon rear view

Just as the new 3 Series sedan weighs about 90 pounds less when put on the scales alongside the previous E90 generation, the F31 fifth-generation 3 Series wagon loses nearly the same amount of weight. This is a great start to things.

This 3 Series sports wagon grows up and out, too, promising a more astute grasp of driving dynamics and interior space arrangement than previous generations. While the length of the car is stretched 3.7 inches beyond the E91 generation, the wheelbase grows 2.0 inches, front track 1.5 inches and rear track almost 1.9 inches. All of these numbers, together with 10-percent greater rigidity in the wagon architecture, have us imagining already how our drive will be: pretty satisfying most likely.

BMW has committed irreversibly to Pirelli Cinturato P7 run-flats for safety, convenience and the benefits of added rear cargo space in the absence of a spare. These treads are used with the optional 18-inch wheels of the Luxury line trim – 225/45 R18 91Y all around – and this setup actually pleased us all day on all roads. Standard wheels and tires for the Sport, Modern and Luxury lines are 17-inch, while the M Sport line starts at 18 inches and can opt up to a 19-inch set. For solid everyday wagoning along with good steady dynamics, we liked the 18s just fine; the greater overall stance of the sports wagon's architecture helped this ride situation quite a bit. The trick with run-flats has simply been knowing on which trims to include them – we dislike them on 35i engine trims and M cars – plus there is also ongoing research by tire manufacturers to create run-flats that feel less and less like heavy wooden tires. These Cinturato P7s do a pretty good job of it.

2014 BMW 3 Series Sports Wagon front fender2014 BMW 3 Series Sports Wagon side window2014 BMW 3 Series Sports Wagon rear hatch2014 BMW 3 Series Sports Wagon taillight

Another key issue on any wagon is the comfort and space inside. We don't expect 7 Series levels of comfort, but we do expect a top-notch usable cargo area with clever flexibility designed in. Whether it's with all seats in place or all folded down, rear cargo numbers for the 3 Series sports wagon are up by 1.2 cubic feet, so the range is now between 17.5 and 53.0 cubic feet, which makes this the most spacious small premium wagon out there. (By just a scootch, mind you.)

Flexibility is really nice here, by the way. We played with everything and used various development experts on site as our assistants in exploring it all. There's the standard 40:20:40 rear seatbacks that drop forward flat, to start with. The separating cross member for the cargo area is, of course, removable, but it has been split into two parts now since one of the old complaints was that the single member was too heavy for some people. Now, the forward piece contains a sturdy pull-out separator net that attaches in headliner slots above the rear passenger doors. The rear piece manages the rolled-up cargo cover. Removing either or both of these is now very quick work.

That first cross member piece, once removed after dropping the seatbacks forward, can be securely slotted into the seatbacks (now acting as cargo floor). Then you can pull up on the cargo netting and attach it to the overhead secure points, and now all objects and living creatures loaded back there would be safe and secure if hard braking is called for. As a bonus, below the cargo floor, where there isn't a spare tire anymore, is a large compartmentalized tray for tucking away whatever you like. A smaller rearward floor panel reveals the place where you can store those longer cargo cross members when you don't need them at all. Slick and easy to live with.

2014 BMW 3 Series Sports Wagon interior2014 BMW 3 Series Sports Wagon front seats2014 BMW 3 Series Sports Wagon rear seats2014 BMW 3 Series Sports Wagon rear cargo area

The multiple award-winning 241-horsepower N20 twin-scroll turbocharged four-cylinder 2.0-liter engine once again reminds us of just how smitten we are by all these latest 328i trims. We've said it already in other Bimmer reviews, but you most likely do not ever need to shell out the extra cash to get the 335i. This extremely impressive four-cylinder already feels far better than the naturally aspirated six-cylinder it replaced last year. Crucify us, but it's true. There's more power at more useful revs (5,000 – 6,000 rpm), way more torque over a wider band (258 pound-feet between 1,250 and 4,800 rpm) and 11-percent greater fuel efficiency with the standard eight-speed Steptronic automatic than the outgoing inline six with six-speed automatic. The direct injection at idle is a little tick-tick-ticky, but under throttle the 328i wagon is probably the smoothest driving hauler in any class. And in a smaller premium wagon like this one, saying "standard automatic" doesn't make us groan much, especially since this one is so good in this configuration.

The driving pleasure, whether calibrated to Eco Pro with start-and-stop, Comfort, Sport or Sport+, is quite sophisticated for this class, and the 328i sports wagon puts the soon-to-land Audi A4 Allroad quattro in the weeds when it comes to these asphalt qualities. Get the M Sport line, adaptive M sport suspension and variable sport steering, and you can make your 328i wagon as nasty as you like. Go the whole hog route with all things just as you like, though, and be prepared to shell out upwards of $55,000 after starting at the estimated $38,500 base price. Oh, you can always go higher, yep.

2014 BMW 3 Series Sports Wagon engine

Our 328i sports wagon Luxury trim tester on this day was a consummately handsome unit, though the high-gloss emphasis of the Luxury trim would not be our first choice. Still, we cannot whine about the astute sport adjustable seat selection, nicely driver-oriented dash and console, nor the Driving Experience Control selector and specific shift lever and steering wheel paddles for the sport automatic gearbox $500 option. The added space for rear passengers in all dimensions is another plus as a result of the longer wheelbase and wider tracks of this wagon.

As to the design of all that added sheetmetal, we like what we see a lot. The 3 Series' newer face is more interesting to look at these days, and the rediscovered true kidney grille is welcome. The contour lines running the full length of the sports wagon just add to the sporting appeal of the car. As we were frequently staring at the tail end of other test cars on this day in Germany, this new solution for the wagon is particularly successful to our eyes. It's not only very handsome and has much better looking taillights, but the tailgate load opening is wider and taller now, too, making luggage hefting easier for anyone.

2014 BMW 3 Series Sports Wagon rear 3/4 view

No manual six-speed transmission seems to be on the dance card for this new sports wagon once it hits American shores, however, and that will make some aficionados unhappy. That manual is legendarily good, too, but we don't mind being forced to live without it, at least in this 328i wagon setup. For some sections of our drive we shifted the sport automatic with our right hand at the console lever, but it starts to feel a little silly after a bit. Fortunately, the paddles work well and the Steptronic eight is in healthy condition these days. It holds revs, too, in Sport manual mode, and that counts for a lot. It's also just as quick to 62 mph (100 kmh) as the manual – 6.0 seconds estimated, but it'll easily go quicker in capable hands – and does it all while saving fuel and polluting less.

A 302-hp 335i trim for the sports wagon is currently under discussion, always with the eight-speed Steptronic, arriving sometime after the 328i has established itself here in 2013. Also on the table are xDrive trims of the wagon. Regarding the latest 255-hp 330d trim with 413 lb-ft of torque from 1,500 to 3,000 rpm and a nearly 4,000-pound towing capacity, BMW in the U.S. is just telling us that it is a hot point of discussion. We hope so because that would be wagon nirvana.

So, do not ever call the station wagon culture in America down for the count. With wagons like this setting the bar, we have a feeling many could come back to the fold.


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 162 Comments
      hebertd106
      • 2 Years Ago
      Rather deal with a spare than have runflats
      • 2 Years Ago
      [blocked]
        jessesrq
        • 2 Years Ago
        I hope that is the case, but these wagons will be rare. BMW lease offers are not as attractive for wagons compared to high volume sedans. Since they are rare, customers have to order them or pick from limited inventory, so dealers have no reason to write good lease deals. Also, I think there is something different about wagon buyers; they tend to buy and keep wagons rather than lease. I searched for a used 328i wagon or A4 Avant and simply could not find a good selection or price, before settling on a new TSX wagon.
      J
      • 2 Years Ago
      I'm all for the driving dynamics and better mileage of a wagon vs a CUV. However, the cargo equivalence thing just doesn't seem to be true. The cargo volume on this wagon is 17.5-53. Compare it to a CUV and it often comes up short. The Mazda MX-5 (34.1-64.8), Honda CRV (37.2-70.9), Mercedes GLK (23.3-54.7), BMW X3 ( 27.6-63.3). Those are just a few. Some of them are small differences, but others aren't so small. The cargo capacity of this wagon might be perfectly acceptable, but it's not necessarily equivalent to CUVs.
        JF
        • 2 Years Ago
        @J
        *CX-5
          J
          • 2 Years Ago
          @JF
          Yes, CX-5. Thank you. An MX-5 with that kind of cargo capacity would be nuts.
        A P
        • 2 Years Ago
        @J
        Of course not.....only an idiot wagon worshiper like the author would believe anything else.
      Ben Lee
      • 2 Years Ago
      not as pretty as Audi wagons but 3 series wagons have always looked good.
      CarCrazy24
      • 2 Years Ago
      After the disappointing looks of the sedan, this wagon looks fantastic. Bringing it here with all wheel drive and a diesel option would make it unavoidable on my list....it would go straight to the top in fact. Well done BMW, now bring it here with the powertrains we deserve.
        Snark
        • 2 Years Ago
        @CarCrazy24
        Okay, now drop $50-55kk of that combination. Still interested? Especially when you can get a sensible diesel commuter and a utilitarian hauler and still have plenty left over for that purchase price? The 335d started at $45k, and that was in sedan form and without AWD, so it wouldn't possibly cost less than $50k given what BMW up-charges for the body style and drivetrain.
      Louber
      • 2 Years Ago
      Dear BMW sales/marketing department, I am a married young professional with moderate income. The exact type of customer you want to bring in to the BMW "family". It is highly likely that I will have children in the next 3-5 years. A vehicle like this could satisfy my auto enthusiast side as well as my need for a practical versatile vehicle. If you bring this car over with a manual gearbox, I will buy one. If not, I will not buy one. Simple as that. Your move BMW.
        Snark
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Louber
        So why are you trying to satisfy both sides with one vehicle? That makes no sense at all to me. Why compromise both priorities with a "practical" vehicle that's not very practical, and an "enthusiast" vehicle that isn't particularly practical? I'm just trying to understand, because a jack of all trades is bound to be a master of none. I've got an S2000 and a 4Runner in the driveway right now, and I spent about as much for both as you would for one 328i wagon with a few option packages checked. .
          libertedelacroix
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Snark
          Dude, you just don't get wagons. Which is fine. Btw, are you also claiming that the 3 series sedan is also compromised? It's the SAME car as the touring, just with larger cargo. It does not change the dynamics of the car at all (if anything, more weight in the back is better). We are not compromising anything by choosing sporty wagons. Can my A4 avant outhandle your miata? No. Can it haul more stuff than your 4runner? No. Can my A4 avant outhandle your 4runner? It would put it to shame. Can it carry more stuff than your miata? Yes, it can carry more even in sedan form. See where I am going with this?? Btw, if you take a new 4runner (starts at $31k, no options), and your miata (starts at $23,470, no options), you are at $54,470. You can buy a really well equipped 328i wagon. If you buy used your argument is even more moot, since BMWs depreciate much more than Japanese cars. Btw, your miata may be affordable and have great handling, but both those cars will still get owned by a stock N20 motor, with a tune (290 hp and 310 tq) it is no comparison. Most of us don't need cnayon carving, but the engine grunt to be able to change lanes on the highway safely. Check, and mate. Your move, wagonhater.
          Snark
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Snark
          Checkmate? Get real. I bought used and I didn't spend more than what you'd pay for a new base 328i. And yes, you're compromising. Your A4 Avant is a mediocre handler and a mediocre utility vehicle. You just don't need any more than that, so you're happy with it - you admit above that you're not a driving enthusiast, you just wanted a nice interior, some space, and a squishy dash. Not all of us have such low expectations for our vehicles. I don't need my S2000 to haul. I don't need my 4Runner to handle. I need those vehicles to, respectively, drive like it's wired into my brain, and haul people and gear, tow, and offroad. It's not possible to split the difference in a way that's remotely acceptable to me. As for power, both my cars (the S2K is not a Miata, by the way) have ample power for all conditions, including rural and urban highways. Beyond that, I don't magazine-race. I don't need 290hp to smoke Corvettes autocrossing or climb Engineer Pass on the weekend.
          Jason Horn
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Snark
          I'll give you two reasons: 1) Because two vehicles are more expensive than one. Apart from two loan payments, two vehicles means two depreciation curves, two maintenance costs, two insurance costs, two registration fees, etc. Some people don't need or want two cars. Having only one is vastly more efficient and cost effective. It means you can have one nice new car instead two generally older ones (generally with poorer fuel efficiency as well). If you're trying to get utility and the best driving experience for the lowest cost/mile, this vehicle is brilliant. 2) SUVs and crossovers suck. If you don't need AWD and true off-road ability, an SUV (even a BMW) has nothing over this car. With this wagon, you can have all utility of an SUV with none of the drawbacks. Unless you need clearance for off-roading, you are adding height, weight, maintenance cost, road and wind noise, and lowering fuel economy for no reason. Many people apparently don't mind doing this to feel taller on the road. For those of us who are intelligent, we'll take this beautiful wagon.
          brucec039
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Snark
          I've owned a couple of 4runner's and a newer Tacoma.. Bleech to drive. Worse than some new full size pickups. A 2 seat sports car is great for a sunday drive to the mountains or autocrossing. But guess what? Almost nobody does that. Far less than 1% of buyers. Most people want a reasonably fun to drive car, not something to drift through corners burning up tires. People want a nice car if they spend a lot of time in cars. Not something too small to be comfortable and practical or too wallowy and truck-like to be an enjoyable driver. If anything I'd buy a used sport wagon and a sports car, so I wouldn't give up much at all. I saw low mile 328i wagons in the low-mid 20's when we were shopping 2 years ago. We compromized with a Volvo XC60 R design since we don't drive like maniacs anyway. i miss the BMW sedans, but I can always pick up a new Focus ST for $25,000 or a used 330i for $15,000.. . .
        Waiter
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Louber
        Well said. I am a married young professional with two young children. I have a Honda Odyssey, much to my daily displeasure. Sometimes I swap with my husband for his 2002 RSX and squash the kids in the backseat, just so I don't have to start my day out frustrated. But I still end up frustrated, because although the car loves to drive, as opposed to the Odyssey elephant that will barely waddle down the road when I give it gas, I simply cannot fit two kids and a stroller into it. I am practically climbing up the walls waiting for a cargo/people hauler in a manual transmission, and NO THANK YOU to a Jetta Sportwagen--I've known too many VW owners to make that mistake. If BMW gave me a third row facing front in a true wagon--not a bulky crossover--I'd pay my third child for it. Mercedes offers a rear-facing third row in an 8-speed auto. No sale. Picky, picky, but hey--if they don't offer me what I want I'll just keep my Odyssey, which will last through the college years, and suck it up. If they want my money, they have to offer what I want.
      A P
      • 2 Years Ago
      I also and still waiting for the author or anyone to list the "awards" that this engine has won.
        A P
        • 2 Years Ago
        @A P
        Where oh where are the "awards"???????? thats right, they dont exist except in the demented and biased mind of the writer. Talk about yellow journalism.
          Snark
          • 2 Years Ago
          @A P
          Oh, so now it's got to be just the right sort of award. Before, you said they don't exist. Now, they exist, but they're just not good enough for you. Gotcha. In case you ever wonder when you've lost an argument, it's when you start changing what you're arguing about when somebody calls you out. You lost. But thanks for the tantrum, it was really cute.
          Snark
          • 2 Years Ago
          @A P
          Before you shoot off your mouth, try Googling first. It'll make you look a little less demented and biased yourself when somebody points out that it won the 2012 International Engine of the Year award along with several other BMW powerplants. Dolt.
          A P
          • 2 Years Ago
          @A P
          Hey dumblefuck..read my FIRST post asking for the award.,.,.,.it said REAL awards from SAE etc...
        clquake
        • 2 Years Ago
        @A P
        http://lmgtfy.com/?q=BMW+engine+awards
      libertedelacroix
      • 2 Years Ago
      As an Audi fanboy and A4 avant owner, I must say, kudos BMW! Very well done wagon- it has plenty of cargo and room, while providing lots of sport. The engine is peppy, and the interior is an improvement. I can imagine that with a stage 1 tune this thing will be very quick. As for those of you criticizing BMW for not bringing a manual, are you joking??? Every automaker is backing off manuals, even for their SPORTIEST (read: coupe, fast engine, sport suspension) models, what the F makes you think they will make an exception for wagon buyers (one of the smallest markets)???? As for this wagon, I still need to test drive it, but overall it looks well executed. I think there are many people who would like the appeal of a wagon: -People who go snowboarding -People who have large dogs (such as myself) -People who hike (or other outdoor activities) -People who carry equipment for photography/music/sports It's easier to load stuff into a wagon, and not everyone wants to pay a penalty for cargo. For people who still want a sporty and sleek ride, wagons are a great option.
        Snark
        • 2 Years Ago
        @libertedelacroix
        As a hiker, skiier, and person with large dogs....you must live in a different part of the country than I do, because I'm on a rough dirt road 2-3 times a week getting to trailheads and put-ins. I'd consider a reasonably priced Allroad-type vehicle with an air suspension, but for the price of something like that, I can own two vehicles. Also, without AWD, forget it. I just don't understand why car enthusiasts with utility needs try to cram both requirements into one car. Buy a real sports car, and a truly utilitarian hauler, and have the true best of both worlds. A $45k compact wagon with rear seats that don''t fold flat is the very definition of a jack of all trades and master of none. If I'm getting out in the mountains or going camping, I don't want to half-ass it with a car that'd bottom out on even the tamest Forest Service road. Likewise, if I want a fun car, I don't want a compromised, chubby "sport wagon" that's overweight and oversized because it also needs to carry five and their luggage. For that price, I own a SUV and a sports car.
          libertedelacroix
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Snark
          As a relatively recent college graduate from a middle class household... you must live in a different part of the country than I do. Sorry not all of us can afford 2 cars (or have space for it). And last I checked, the majority of the US lives in urban areas, not rural. Don't get me wrong, sometimes the roads in cities are so bad they could qualify as off road, but for the most part, wagons would have no problem going over the roads. I wanted a decently quick car that had room for my 90lb doberman. In my Audi wagon (which, btw, has the smallest cargo room compared to the 3 and C class wagon), not only did I have room for my dog and his bed, I had room to have a friend in the front passenger, a friend in the back, and all our hiking equipment. And btw, a "real" sports car is also $35k+ (exception being a mustang GT). And besides, I do not want a harsh riding sports car, I simply want a car that looks nice, has a quality interior, decent gas mileage, room for my dog, and wasn't dog slow like the Jetta Sportswagon. My Audi avant happened to fit the bill, and even though the car cost me $46k out the door, I would say it is worth ever penny. Too costly for you? Buy used. I would say in about 2 years Allroads will be selling well below $40k, so you can have your cake and eat it too. Btw, the B8 TFSI engines, with a stage 1 tune only, will put about 250 hp and 300 tq, which is hardly anything to sneeze at. Why own an A4 sedan and a Honda CRV, when I can both in the wagon?
          Snark
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Snark
          To the contrary, I'm a middle-class urbanite, 29 years old. I live three miles from my city's downtown, I make a solid but unremarkable professional's income and live in a relatively dense residential neighborhood. If you can afford a new German luxury car, you can afford two used cars that cost the same combined. Mine cost less to insure, too. And funny you should mention buying used, which is exactly what I did, and exactly how I afforded two cars for the price of one. Given that $40k is $40k no matter how you slice the pie, why compromise with a fairly mediocre wagon when I can have two vehicles that excel at their respective tasks? Maybe I'm just enough of a car enthusiast that I'm not content with the fairly low bar you've set for your vehicle; I want more than a cushy dash and the ability to get out of my own way. I love to autocross and drive hard, and I don't want a mediocre dance partner. I also love to explore deserted backroads, some of which are only a half-hour from my house, and which are necessary to get to some of my favorite camping and hiking areas. Why would I want to content myself with the overrun trails and crowds that come with the limitation of staying on good roads? Maybe you never leave the city, or you live in the East - but I do, and out West not all the roads are paved.
          raughle1
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Snark
          Which car do you use to meet your important clients? Take your wife and another couple out to dinner at a nice restaurant? Take a long highway trip to visit far-away relatives? Take your 10-year-old Golden Retriever to the park? I'd consider buying, garaging, registering, washing, and maintaining multiple mass-market econoboxes, but for the price and hassle of something like that, I can own a really, really sweet German road machine. Also, if neither one of those multiple vehicles is all that great for my daily commute, forget it. I just don't understand why car enthusiasts with utility needs would compromise with two just decent cars when they could have one really killer one. A $25k Japanese 4x4 based on a small pickup is the very definition of compromise. If I'm doing something civilized, I don't want to half-ass it with a rough-riding 4x4 that sucks gas on my daily commute and subjects my more civilized passengers to the compromises of my weekend recreation needs, all because I think I need a 4x4 just to drive on a dirt road. Likewise, if I want to drive fast and enjoy a long road trip through the mountains, I don't want to be restricted to having only one passenger and almost no luggage in some Miata or BRZ. For that price, I can own a car that handles great and is faster than either of those cars in most real-world conditions while carrying five *and* their luggage. See what I did there?
      A P
      • 2 Years Ago
      So what is the tow rating?
      psombsthay
      • 2 Years Ago
      awaiting eagerly for the VW Passat ALLTRACK. I owned 4 v70 Volvo before.. but Volvo stopped selling it here in 2010....Driving a 2013 VW CC meantime.......Only Texan who like wagons....
      CaddyV8
      • 2 Years Ago
      So are we getting an M3 Wagon? I'd love to see that and a CTS-V wagon duke it out. "The Ultimate Grocery Getters"
      KingTito
      • 2 Years Ago
      Really want diesel and manual or AWD. So basically 2 out of 3. Please.
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