Hagerty Video: All-New BMW M3 Touring Review: The One-Car Solution? | Henry Catchpole – The Driver’s Seat

All-New BMW M3 Touring Review: The One-Car Solution? | Henry Catchpole - The Driver’s Seat

Posted: 2023-03-29 15:00:26
Author: Hagerty
The BMW M3 (G81) Competition xDrive Touring (to bestow its full title,) has been one of the most hotly anticipated cars ever since the first pictures lit up the internet. Those twin facets of practicality and performance are usually skewed one way or the other in a car, but occasionally there is the tantalizing promise of total harmony. This week, Henry seeks to find out if the M3 in wagon/estate/load-lugger form, is that promise realized.

With exactly the same 503bhp, turbocharged, straight-six S58 engine under the bonnet and power going to all four wheels, the M3 Touring still does 0-62mph in a mere 3.6 seconds – just a tenth of a second slower than an M4 Competition xDrive. The top speed remains limited to 155mph (although if you opt for the M Driver’s Pack then this rises to 174mph.)

In this episode of The Driver’s Seat, Henry Catchpole tests the M3 Touring on both on the road, and round the track, to see if the reality lives up to the hype. There are some big skids on the circuit (and then he pops a bit of shopping in the boot afterwards.) Knowing Henry at this point, he also tests the Touring’s ability to carry a bicycle, a size 58cm Specialized Tarmac SL5 S-Works (if such things matter to you,) and then finds some company in the shape of Otto—the giant teddybear.

Can the new M3 Touring really take on “The Establishment,” aka, Audi’s RS4 and RS6 Avants? Will it feel lacking, given that the new Mercedes AMG C63 S estate has closer to 700bhp? In a shocking turn of events, will the appearance of the Ferrari Purosangue in the last few weeks, have made the estate format seem rather ‘old hat?’

Before you start adding things, like the Frozen Portimao Blue metallic paint, Carbon ceramic brakes and carbon bucket seats, the M3 Touring is not cheap. Priced at just over £80,000 in the UK (it’s not coming to the US. sorry folks,) the car comes with a steep price tag. However, it could be seen as multiple cars in one – we can certainly see it being helpful in the fantasy five car garage game.

Anyway, we hope you enjoy the episode. And if you do, please consider sharing it with someone else that you think might appreciate it. Thank you.

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Hagerty Video Transcript

– If you’re lucky, 10% of the time the new M3 Touring is all about this. But 90% of the time, it’ll be about, well, the everyday stuff like this. Door clicks Yes, with 500 liters of space with the seats up and another 1,010 liters with the seats down, the M3 Touring has got you covered for the practicalities just as surely as a 320D Touring would. But, even on a trip to the shops, that’s where the comparisons with more mundane models ends. It does still feel special to drive every day this as well. There’s no soundtrack, particularly, which is annoying and would be, would be nice if there was something more to listen to other than the excellent Harman Kardon stereo which comes as standard. But they’re all the little M badges for a start, which are very nice. And then there are these seats. Yes, these are an option and quite an expensive one at that, but they’re just so worth it. I know they take away a little bit from the practicality

Because they’ve got those glossy carbon fiber backs which if you have small people in the back of this car they will inevitably kick them and that will put your teeth on edge every single time they do it. But it’s worth it just for the times you can look at them.

And the rest of the seats are worth it too because they’re just so good to sit in. They’re really comfortable, and yet, they also feel instantly sporty, instantly “M” whenever you get into them. (car zooming past) These ones appear to have been trimmed in panda which is a little bit unfortunate.

Thought they were endangered. I’m joking, I’m joking. The standard price for the M3 Touring is just over 80,000 pounds, but with the 11 grand ultimate pack which includes things like those seats and some laser lights, the eight grand M pro pack which gets you the carbon ceramic breaks and then the 3000 pound frozen Portimao blue metallic paint of this car,

You’re looking at six figures. Something that does come in standard, however, is the vast new gently curved frameless screen inside. It’s made up of a 12.3 inch display for the dials and a 14.9 inch touchscreen for controlling, well, pretty much everything apart from the actual driving, which, as we’ve seen on other cars,

Is not necessarily a good thing. To be fair, it’s not just specific to the M3 Touring because although it’s been introduced on this it will be rolled out onto the standard M3 saloon and the M4 as well. And it’s a bit of a mixed bag,

A bit yin and yang because, whilst it’s very impressive having this enormous great screen here, I don’t happen to think it’s particularly stylish. And whilst it’s pretty irritating that stuff has migrated up here, stuff like the climate control now, which is just annoying, it was better when it was down here.

We have at least still got iDrive to fall back on, and some of the buttons here and the M1 and M2 on the steering wheel. We’ve got the new design for the dials in here, which are, I don’t know, they just, they don’t appeal to me, to be honest.

I don’t think they’re as legible, certainly as the lovely old analog ones with the white on black. But they have improved the head up display because before when you put it in a sport the huge great rev counter thing, just this boomerang got in your view.

They have obviously listened and now it’s just a nice strip along the bottom, which works really, really well. And then we’ve got a couple of details which are, again, good and bad. So I love this little sort of top down view of the original M car, the M1 in there

For the tire pressures and temperatures. But then something I’ve noticed, it’s got a little bit more nannying this car as well because before we used to be able to just go double press and turn everything off in terms of the DSC and all that. If you had it set up now,

You have to read the blurb that it gives you. So you have to pause, you have to go one, two. Just a little bit annoying. A rather curious eggish change to the interior then, but on balance, the retention of the iDrive controller means it’s still more positive than negative. So it does the everyday stuff well. But what about when you’re not on a track day, but you find yourself on a wonderful piece of road like this? I have done a lot of miles in an M4 competition with xDrive and this really doesn’t feel very different at all. It’s hardly surprising really. This has still got the same S58 engine, 503 brake horsepower, 479 pounds for the torque, just like the normal M3 or M4 competition. We still got that same Zed F eight speed auto which, yes isn’t quite as, quite as crisp as a DCT but at same time, probably fits the character of the Touring even more. The handling balance is still there. The speed is absolutely still there. This is very much still an M car. It’s very easy to forget, in fact, that you’ve got all that load space behind you. Suspension has been re-tuned a bit as you would expect really. So we’ve got 10% stiffer springs at the rear retuned dampers all round. And then we’ve got for bushings in the anti rollbars at the front,

As with the normal M3 and M4. Again, this also benefits just from ramping the dampers up very slightly to their sport setting. You can’t even drive it in sport plus on the road. Lots of people will say, “Oh no you just leave it in comfort

For the road,” but actually I think you lose some body control if you don’t ramp it up. And this is a car that you can use all the settings in and and you feel the difference, and they all seem to have a use case as well, depending whether you are driving every day, you want that bit of extra comfort or you find yourself on a road like this

And you want the greater body control. And I love that feeling of when you perhaps go for the sports setting on the dampers and the steering and you feel the car just sort of tense slightly. And then equally when you go the other way, when

When you release it again and it’s a bit like, I don’t know, you take off a, a tight fitting piece of clothing, perhaps you had a big lunch and you undo your belt a bit. The only real difference you can feel is the extra weight.

So this weighs 1865 kilos as a din curb weight which is about 90 kilos heavier than an M3 saloon. And although as an overall percentage, 90 kilos is not much. It’s not as though that 90 kilos is sort of all over the car.

It’s not like a CSL, which takes its hundred kilos out from across the whole car. That extra weight, clearly, is focused back there and pretty high up. As a result, you can feel it just kind of where you’d expect, just there (engine revs) on the exiter corners.

It’s almost as though when you get on the throttle (engine revs) with particularly the xDrive in it sort of sport setting, so sending more rearwards you can just feel as though it’s, it’s just taking that little moment longer just leaning a little bit on the exiter corners. I also think this just turns in, perhaps not more softly, but you can just breach the front end grip a little bit earlier in corners as well, which I actually quite like. It’s almost E90 saloon versus E92 coupe M3. That was something I actually rather liked

But it gave me something, a sort of easier balance, particularly for a road car, I thought. And it’s worth saying that although you can occasionally tell where the extra weight is overall, it really doesn’t feel like a heavy car. It just disguises its mass so well At six or seven tons when you find yourself on a road like this, it’s fabulous. It’s just so easy and clean to drive. When you look in the rear view mirror (laughs) and you remember you’ve got all that load space. So, it rewards on the road and has more practicality than a cupboard full of Tupperware. It does the day-to-day, the 90%. But what about those special occasions, those days when you swap the humdrum for a helmet? Can it live up to the M for Motorsport badge? The answer is short. Spoiler alert. Absolutely. This really is so impressive round here. If anything, almost more impressive than it is on the road, I think. So beautifully balanced just as you’d want an M3 to be. For the track I have selected, well track for the displays. So conventional, I know, but just as on the road you’ve got choices in terms of the dynamic set up. Perhaps most interestingly, in terms of how you apportion the power between the wheels. The xDrive sports setting is an excellent,

Confidence-inspiring place to start. It’s reassuring somehow. You can feel the power going through the front wheels. You perhaps get just a touch more under steer through the mid part of the corner and perhaps on entry as well. It’s still interactive and enjoyable and mobile. But then, you also have the option of going to purely rear wheel drive. That… that’s just fantastic. I love that they just called it two-wheel drive not drift mode, I know there’s a drift analyzer. But it has all the purity you could crave.

Anyone worried about the fact that this has xDrive, there’s no need for concern because it feels just beautifully, well, rear-driven. No corruption through the steering mid slide. It’s just fantastic, and through the longer corners there, just have it dancing. It’s not all about the the big Larry slides.

You can keep it sort of rosefully neat but just tease it through the corners. And you really do forget, I’ll say it again. You forget that you’ve got all that extra load-lugging capacity behind you. You can obviously dial in the M traction control as well which does work really, really well.

Dial a bit of it in now. You’ll be able to see, leave it in sort of five there. We coming into this second gear corner, you’ll see. It just holds it really nicely. Makes you look like an absolute hero. Just stops it from getting a little bit too Larry. Too scary. And that’s a really nice thing. So you’ve got these steps again from going from four wheel drive sport to rear wheel drive

With that M traction control, so you can work up to turning everything all the way off if you want to. This is so much more playful that the RS4 competition than I drove recently. Just a totally different league. I mean, it’s what we expected, but even if you leave this in

Four wheel drive sport, it’s so much more mobile and interactive. And it’s just more nimble than something like an E63 estate. The new C63 S estate just feels so heavy by comparison. And actually I’d say probably not as quick as this. I know it’s got more power on paper

But the 503 brake horsepower of this Is (exhales) ample, (laughs) I would say. I’d say actually, arguably, this feels kind of better balanced, more friendly, more fun than the M4 CSL that we had around here a few months ago. The Touring really is that good. It just feels dynamically harmonious, and weirdly, I think it’s cooler too, but that might just be me. I grew up traveling around in the back of estates, mostly a Volvo estate, a Volvo 240 estate which was obviously rear wheel drive and had noticeably really big engine in it. And… my father thought that sliding out round wet roundabouts was rather good fun. He just loved the incongruity of it.

So I’ve always had a soft spot for a Larry estate. Oh, that’s so much fun. What a car. I think we all had high hopes for this. It lives up to them. If you knew that the 10% was gonna be as good as this, you’d put up with an awful lot of the other 90%. You really would. But there really doesn’t seem to be any compromise from bike to bear

To bags to the beach. The M3 Touring doesn’t just fit into everyday life. It enhances it.