2023 BMW M3 Touring: A fast, forbidden first wagon

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Through six generations of BMW M3 there have been zero wagons put on sale. M boffins made two practice runs during the first-gen E30 and third-gen E46 runs, but those concepts drove no further than BMW garages and test tracks. The only M wagons anyone could buy were M5 Touring models, the last one powered by a naturally aspirated 5.0-liter V10. The world finally gets an M3 Touring — certain parts of the world, that is, but we'll get to that. Only available in Competition spec with xDrive all-wheel drive, up front comes the 3.0-liter twin-turbo inline-six with 503 horsepower and 479 pound-feet of torque. In back comes a load bay that can swallow anywhere from 18 cubic feet to 53 cubic feet. That means it holds a little less than the final M5 Touring, but the new M3 hauler is wider and faster.

There are all the mechanical bits one expects in an M3 Competition here. The engine sends its output to both axles through an eight-speed transmission and the Active M rear differential. M won't say yet what the M3 Touring weighs, but the blast to 62 miles per hour is claimed to take 3.6 seconds, one tenth off the time for the sedan. Getting to 124 miles per hour needs 12.9 seconds. The party ends at 155 miles hour unless a buyer opts for the M Driver's Package, which lifts the electronically limited top speed to 174 mph. .

Outside, starting from the top, the roof, roof rails, and hatch wing with Gurney flap come in black as standard. Applying the body color up there will be an option, but the carbon roof M is known for will not be an option. A big kidney grille, gulping intakes, brutal wheel arches, and thickened side skirts mark the usual territory. Things get really novel and capacious after the B-pillar, where the extra roof length nicely balances the extra width of the wheel arches.

Inside, the M3 Touring introduces the Curved Display and iDrive 8 infotainment to M branch. A 12.3-inch gauge cluster faces the driver, a 14.9-inch touchscreen serves both front occupants. M Sport seats in Merino leather trim come with the purchase price in the front row. The rear seats — plain seats, not sporty thrones — are split into three sections, 40:20:40. The hatch is split in two so shoppers can open just the top portion.

Standard performance gear bundles the Adaptive M Suspension, except it gets new rear dampers that are shared with the coming M2; variable ratio steering; and forged M wheels that are 19 inches in front and 20 inches in back. The AWD system can be put on time out by switching off the Dynamic Stability Control, calling up rear-wheel drive and less restrictive slip angles that can be dialed in through 10 steps. There shouldn't be any surprises when on the go, however; M development honcho Dirk Häcker told Evo, "Our message is that it’s a Touring that drives like an M3, not an M3 that drives like a Touring." Safety kit like Front Collision Warning, Speed Limit Display with no-overtaking indicator, Lane Departure Warning and Park Distance Control is also thrown in.

The wagon debuts during this weekend's Goodwood Festival of Speed, which begins tomorrow. It will go on sale in places including Europe, the UK, Japan, South Korea, Australia, and New Zealand later this year. It's obvious why we won't get it, despite the kindnesses of other German and Swedish makers giving us access to their wagons. Ordering starts in September, production kicking off in November. In the UK, the M3 Touring is priced at £80,550 ($105,000 U.S.), just £2,000 ($2,455 U.S.) over the M3 sedan and about £10,000 ($12,275 U.S.) less than the X3 M. The English grandkids of the Griswolds should make hay with this one.

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