BMW 3 Series Touring (2012 – 2019) Review

BMW 3 Series Touring (2012 – 2019) At A Glance

Honest John Overall Rating
Is the BMW 3 Series Touring the perfect family car? Not quite, but if you’re after a classy, upmarket and practical alternative to a family SUV, the 3 Series Touring is hard to beat.

+More grown-up 3 Series. Fine balance on the road. Fantastic diesel engines.

-Diesel engine stop/start system can be gruff. Beginning to feel and look old inside and out. A lot of safety equipment is on the options list.

Insurance Groups are between 18–43
On average it achieves 83% of the official MPG figure

The BMW 3 Series Touring is the estate version of the country’s favourite compact executive saloon. Launched in 2012, it’s not the cheapest or most practical car in its class, but it’s arguably the most desirable. It edges rivals like the Audi A4 Avant and Mercedes-Benz C-Class Estate thanks to its strong image and excellent handling. Production ceased in 2019, when the 3 Series Touring was replaced by an all-new model. But don’t let that put you off, because it remained a class leader, even as BMW was readying its replacement.

The 3 Series Touring arrived in 2012 and enjoyed a long production run until 2019. This means there’s a 3 Series Touring for most budgets.

Although many buyers have migrated to the perceived benefits of an SUV, an estate car remains the best choice if you’re looking for maximum practicality and a degree of driving pleasure. The 3 Series Touring isn’t the most spacious car in its class, but none of its rivals are as enjoyable to drive. It’s as satisfying as the 3 Series saloon, which is high praise.

There are a bewildering array of engines and trim levels to choose from, but if you’re after the best blend of performance, efficiency and price, look no further than the BMW 320d Touring. The four-cylinder diesel engine is punchy and efficient, especially if you opt for the 320d ED (EfficientDynamics) model introduced as part of the facelift in 2015. On paper, the engine could deliver a remarkable 74.3mpg, although the figure will be lower in the real world.

Elsewhere, you can select from a frugal and characterful three-cylinder petrol in the 318i, fuel-sipping diesel units, or six-cylinder petrol and diesel engines with a performance twist. In M Sport guise, it’s as close as you can get – for now – to a BMW M3 Touring.

Rear- and four-wheel-drive (xDrive) models are available, but all cars feature sharp and accurate steering, superb cornering and a composed ride. The ride quality suffers a little on models with larger wheels, but many people will enjoy the sporty handling.

Standard equipment is good, but many of the desirable features are relegated to the options list, so the 3 Series Touring can get quite expensive. Not that this is a problem when you’re buying used. Some of the costly options add little or no value on the used car market, so it’s possible to bag a bargain. Buy one of the latest models and you’ll benefit from BMW’s three-year warranty.

The boot isn’t the largest in its class, but the opening rear window in the tailgate is a useful feature. All models get an electric tailgate as standard, which on some versions can be opened by waving your foot beneath the bumper. Although it’s marketed as a five-seater, the 3 Series Touring works best as a spacious four-seater, as space in the middle rear seat is restricted by the transmission tunnel.

Up front, the driver and front seat passenger can enjoy a classy cabin, with buttons and switches that operate with precision and quality. This is a car that looks stylish on the outside and upmarket on the inside.

Some rivals are cheaper, others are more practical, while some offer more kit for your money. But few estate cars are as desirable as the BMW 3 Series Touring.

Ask Honest John

Should I keep my diesel car if my mileage has dropped?
"I own a diesel 2015 BMW 5 Series estate with 51,000 miles - which I love. However, since retiring, my mileage is very low. A pre-owned 5 Series PHEV is frankly too expensive for me now. What would you recommend considering the driving dynamics of the 5? Or should I keep my car?"
It's likely to get problematic as it gets older if you don't take it for regular runs up the motorway. Lots of short journeys could lead to a blocked diesel particulate filter (DPF). A petrol or hybrid model would be a much better choice. A BMW 520i could be a good replacement, or consider a 3 Series if you don't need a car quite so big. We'd also recommend a Mercedes-Benz C- or E-Class, or a Volvo V90.
Answered by Andrew Brady
Can you recommend a car that fits my long list of requirements?
"I'm looking for a used car, SUV or Estate. I'd like it to have the following: torque converter auto gearbox, spare wheel or spacesaver, decent performance i.e. 0-60mph in under 10 seconds, a decent size boot with a minimum of 500 litres and cruise control. Economy isn't that important to me if I get everything else. I'd prefer petrol but would consider diesels. I have a budget of around £12,000. I know its a tall order but can you help identify something suitable, please?"
A BMW 3 Series Touring or Mercedes-Benz C-Class would meet most of your requirements apart from having room for a spare wheel. How about a Honda Civic Tourer? It's a smaller car but has a huge 624-litre boot and was sold with a reliable torque-converter transmission. There's room for a space-saver spare wheel, too.
Answered by Andrew Brady
Is there a good sporty estate or SUV I should consider?
"I'm a new dad and now want to move from an Audi S3 to a more suitable estate or SUV that I will use as a daily drive but would like something sporty. I have a budget of £15000, what would you recommend?"
If you're looking for something sporty, you'd be better looking for an estate. We'd recommend a Skoda Octavia vRS. It's a very practical estate car that's fun to drive. Although rarer, seek out a petrol unless you cover high miles. Also, consider a BMW 3 Series Touring. Even the 318i is good to drive.
Answered by Andrew Brady
What checks do I need to make on a pre-reg car that's been sat around?
"I am purchasing a BMW 340i Touring from a main dealer. It was first registered in April 2017 but only has 72 miles on the clock and has been sat round for a while. Is there anything you would recommend maintenance wise on the car? I've checked the tyres for flat spots and it's fine but I didn't know if its worth changing the engine oil yet?"
One thing you need to know is what was the pre-first-year VED invoice price of the car because if it was £40k + you're in for £450pa VED for 4 years. (Under £40k: £140pa.) If it's been outside the brake discs will have rusted so, even though the rust may have cleaned off you need to make sure the discs are not grooved. Wise to have the brake fluid changed because sitting around fills it up with condensation. It's wise to change the engine oil and filter plus it will probably need a new battery (expensive with BMW's stop/start system).
Answered by Honest John

What does a BMW 3 Series Touring (2012 – 2019) cost?