Review: BMW 3 Series Touring (2005 – 2012)


Very good to drive. Exceptionally good 320d engine. Practical loadspace. Huge performance from 335i.

Still reports of turbo failures on 320d.

BMW 3 Series Touring (2005 – 2012): At A Glance

The first time I drove an E90 3-Series I crashed it. We were supposed to be experiencing blowouts on a bend at a test track. The brief was to lock it on cruise control at 80, take it once round the bend like that, then, second time round, the passenger's job was to throw a switch that pulled the valve out of a back tyre. First blowout on ordinary tyres; second blowout on Bridgestone runflats.

Except I forgot that the bend after the 80mph bed tightened up and there was no way through it at 80 in cruise control. So we understeered onto some gravel, had a little 80mph rotation, kept the engine running, then got on with the real job.

And, of course, the car handled it brilliantly. Without Dynamic Stability Control, on standard tyres, the rapid deflation led to a spin. With DSC, it didn't. Then, without DSC, when the runflat deflated, the result was as undramatic as the standard tyres with DSC.

After that we did 10 miles on rural Italian roads in a 320i with a front runflat running flat. The 10 miles with a rear runflat running flat. All a very impressive demonstration of BMW DSC and Bridgestone runflats, but hardly a fair introduction to the new E90 3-Series.

So today, we went to Scotland and drove the new 320dSE Touring, which came on Michelin Pilot Primacy 205/55R16 runflats. This is likely to be the best-selling E91 3-Series Touring.

Road test BMW E91 320d and 325i Touring

What does a BMW 3 Series Touring (2005 – 2012) cost?

List Price from £27,805
Buy new from £24,573
Contract hire from £269.27 per month

BMW 3 Series Touring (2005 – 2012): What's It Like Inside?

Length 4527 mm
Width 1817 mm
Height 1418 mm
Wheelbase 2760 mm

Full specifications

With a bit more room in the back than the old E46 Touring, it can handle all the luggage, dogs and DIY duties of a proper station wagon. It's even reasonably good value because although BMW asks £25,905 for the SE (or a more reasonable £24,875 for the slightly lower spec ES) and though discounts aren't exactly given away, the 3-Series traditionally hangs onto its value well. The Touring hangs on better than the saloon because, though demand for new saloons is greater from fleets, demand for used Tourings is greater from the public.

Child seats that fit a BMW 3 Series Touring (2005 – 2012)

Our unique Car Seat Chooser shows you which child car seats will fit this car and which seat positions that they will fit, so that you don't have to check every car seat manufacturer's website for compatibility.

Which car seat will suit you?

What's the BMW 3 Series Touring (2005 – 2012) like to drive?

It may have a diesel engine, but pumps out 163PS with 340Nm torque and revs so freely to 5,000rpm it feels like a gutsy petrol. And, though the range will include a 330d with 228bhp and a massive 500Nm torque, the 320d is still a sports car.

With ideal 50/50 weight distribution and a 25% stiffer shell than the old car, it goes and handles like a true rear-drive thoroughbred. It rides well on those Primacy runflats with very little road noise even on rough, chewed-up surfaces.

The only flies in its ointment are the contortions some people's arms have to go through to change gear. The lever is about 2" too far back. Both I and my co-driver had to consciously lift our elbows to avoid banging them on the console box. So if you see 3 Series drivers walking about with strangely bent arms they may be suffering from Repetitive Gearchange Syndrome.

We also drove the 325iSE, which comes on bigger 17" wheels and 225/45R17 runflats. This has that wonderful, smooth, banshee howl of a BMW straight-six and bags of power to get you through the bends, but with two more cylinders up front naturally feels a bit more nose-heavy than the 320d. It's a much faster car, of course, if you're into outright speed. But it wouldn't be long before the fuel computer reading of the 320d begins to win you over.

And that's just the start of your choices. The 320i I drove on the flat runflats had bags of low-speed torque for a petrol engine and prices that start at £23,040. The 330i gets to 60 in less than six seconds and goes on to a top speed artificially limited to 155. The 330d isn't far behind it. And if you can't get on with the crooked arm gearchange, there's always a 6-speed automatic.

To get this car into perspective, many years ago, three of us managed to double the 70mph speed limit in an old 3.8 E-Type with one lad lying on the parcel shelf.

The 330i Touring is at least 15mph faster even with five aboard, plus the dog.

Engine MPG 0-62 CO2
318d 52–63 mpg 9.4–9.6 s 120–142 g/km
318d Automatic 52 mpg 9.6 s 142 g/km
318i 42–45 mpg 9.5–10.4 s 147–159 g/km
318i Automatic 42 mpg 10.4 s 159 g/km
320d 52–59 mpg 7.7–7.9 s 128–142 g/km
320d Automatic 52 mpg 7.9 s 142 g/km
320i 40–44 mpg 8.4–9.2 s 149–164 g/km
320i Automatic 40 mpg 9.2 s 164 g/km
325d 49 mpg 7.2 s 153 g/km
325d Automatic 46 mpg 7.3 s 163 g/km
325i 39 mpg 6.9 s 170 g/km
325i Automatic 37 mpg 7.3 s 178 g/km
330d 48 mpg 6.2 s 155 g/km
330d Automatic 45 mpg 6.3 s 165 g/km
330i 37 mpg 6.2 s 177 g/km
335d 42 mpg 6.1 s 176 g/km
335i 30–33 mpg 5.7 s 199–222 g/km
335i Automatic 33 mpg 5.9 s 203 g/km

Real MPG average for a BMW 3 Series Touring (2005 – 2012)

Real MPG was created following thousands of readers telling us that their cars could not match the official figures.

Real MPG gives real world data from drivers like you to show how much fuel a vehicle really uses.

Average performance


Real MPG

20–60 mpg

MPGs submitted


Diesel or petrol? If you're unsure whether to go for a petrol or diesel (or even an electric model if it's available), then you need our Petrol or Diesel? calculator. It does the maths on petrols, diesels and electric cars to show which is best suited to you.

What have we been asked about the BMW 3 Series Touring (2005 – 2012)?

Every day we're asked hundreds of questions from car buyers and owners through Ask Honest John. Our team of experts, including the nation's favourite motoring agony uncle - Honest John himself - answer queries and conudrums ranging from what car to buy to how to care for it as an owner. If you could do with a spot of friendly advice before buying you're next car, get in touch and we'll do what we can to help.

Ask HJ

The DPF light has come on in my car despite doing lots of miles - why has this happened?

I have a 2008 BMW 3 Series Touring 3.0d. I do 20,000 miles per year on A roads, at high speeds, and change the oil and filter very regularly. A diesel particle filter warning light has now come on. Why has this happened as the car has only done 89,000 miles?
The DPFs on these often fill up with ash from around 80,000 miles after which the DPF cannot passively or actively regenerate. I think you either need to send the DPF to Ceramex to be chemically cleaned or replace it (£400 - £1200).
Answered by Honest John
More Questions

What Cars Are Similar To The BMW 3 Series Touring (2005 – 2012)?

Key attributes of the this model are: Economical and Compact premium.

Unclear on what your next car should be? Use our Car Chooser to pick something that suits your needs.

What do owners think?

Our view gives your our opinion, based on driving hundreds of cars every year, but you can't beat the views of someone who lives with a car day-in, day out.

  • 5 star 17%
  • 4 star 67%
  • 3 star
  • 2 star 17%
  • 1 star

See all owners' reviews