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Wagon a fine blend of esthetics and utility

I'm glad there are manufacturers like BMW and Volkswagen that still offer wagons. The right mix of options provides a car that can be fun to drive and functional when needed.
BMW 328x Drive Touring.
BMW 328x Drive Touring.

I’m glad there are manufacturers like BMW and Volkswagen that still offer wagons. The right mix of options provides a car that can be fun to drive and functional when needed. No longer the choice of families to haul kids and junk, wagons still have an appeal with seniors and well-heeled millennials who want something smaller to drive in an urban setting yet roomy enough and comfortable for a long drive. The 2016 BMW 328 xDrive Touring fits the bill if you can handle a starting price of $48,200 and a whopping $2,145 destination charge. And that’s with no noteworthy options. Certainly not a stripper model, but tack on a few popular goodies and you are into the mid-fifties with GST still to be added. No wonder many BMW owners simply lease their cars and turn them in at the end.

If money is no object, the 328xDrive Touring does give you good value starting with a 241 horsepower four-cylinder engine that is more than adequate to propel this wagon to a high rate of velocity. Twin turbochargers eliminate turbo lag and provide neck-snapping performance. Fuel consumption under my right foot worked out to 10.5L/100 km which is OK considering the extra weight of all-wheel-drive and winter roads. At highway speed under ideal summer driving conditions this model should easily get 6.9L/100 km.

The 3 Series Touring I drove had the optional Adaptive M suspension and variable sport steering which made my wagon a little more agile I suppose. This package is supposed to provide maximum handling and precision even during sporty driving. I really can’t say if that’s the case, the car feels no different than the 328i sedan I drove a while ago. The optional eight-speed Steptronic Sport transmission always seems to be in the right gear and shifts smoothly while at the same time helping to reduce fuel consumption.

In the back is where the BMW Touring really shines. Designed to tackle any challenge – from light luggage to heavy, bulky items. When the rear-seat backrest is upright, 495 litres of space is available. When the backrest is folded down completely, this volume increases to an impressive 1,500 litres. With the standard-feature through-loading system, the rear-seat backrest can be divided in a 40:20:40 ratio, enabling the seats and luggage compartment to be modified to suit your requirements. Two passengers can sit in the rear while, at the same time, long objects (e.g. ski and snowboard bags) can also be transported. The BMW 3 Series Touring is also the only vehicle in its segment with a rear window that opens separately, which makes loading a whole lot easier.

Seating comfort, a quiet passenger cabin, clear instrumentation scored points with me. There were only two option packages and one stand-alone option on my test car. The Premium Package Enhanced was priced at $5,400 and included such items as a heated steering wheel (yes that was not standard), rear view camera, Park Distance Control and Harman/Kardon sound system. The M Performance Package saw M-Style 19-inch wheels, M Sport brakes, adaptive M suspension and variable sport steering all for $1,900. Metallic paint was $895. That brings the price tag on my tester to over $56,200. There is much more you can choose from including a good variety of interior options and trim making the inside a little more pleasant on the eyes.

I have very little to criticize on the 328i xDrive touring because it performs so well and has been engineered to a very high standard. This is what you would expect of BMW and they deliver on their years of experience. If there is one thing that does concern me it’s the cost of options or option packages. But as someone once told me, “Everything in life is negotiable.” In the end, there is nothing quite like the 328i xDrive Touring wagon as it has a combination of dynamics, elegance and versatility making it the sportiest member of its vehicle class.

The 3 Series wagon has been a popular seller in Canada and has for sometime carried on with its typical BMW 3 Series family characteristics; long hood, short overhangs, long wheelbase and set-back passenger compartment. In this way, the BMW 3 Series Touring continues to blend class leading esthetics and utility.

Garry Melnyk is a St. Albert resident and lifelong car buff who has written about new cars and trucks for radio and print publications since the ’70s.