BMW's 3-series Touring is perfect for those who feel the need to look different
For the first time ever, BMW Thailand has decided to import the 3-series Touring in 320d form; the asking price will be a cool 4.099 million baht.
The reason for it being 1.3 million baht more expensive than its rela- tive, the 320d saloon, is place of origin. The load-lugger is being brought from Germany, while the four-door is assembled right here in Thailand.
So the local BMW office has tried to boost the appeal of the Touring by giving it M Sport accessories (both on the exterior and inside) plus a few more features than usual.
By its very nature, an estate is more practical than a saloon, meaning that the Touring would be more useful for something like a weekend jaunt for the whole family. And that's not the only advantage. The Touring has plenty of small details that contribute to utility, like three-way folding rear seats, cubbyholes under the floor of the boot (there's no spare tyre; run-flats are the norm for BMWs), a mesh partition and a removable boot rail to keep things in place.
While beauty is certainly in the eye of the beholder, the Touring is a good-looking car with its bespoke bumpers, wheels, steering wheel and that shade of red used for the interior that went well with the white exterior on the test car you can see here.
The rest is pure 3-series: great diesel combining pace, economy and refinement, as well as exceptional levels of high-speed stability and handling.
Two, admittedly minor, issues: a secondary ride that was lumpy over imperfect roads and rear seats that are quite hard to sit in. That's about it.
BUY OR BYE?
Estates are a rare breed in Thailand, even in the luxury-car sector. Audi and Mercedes-Benz aren't selling the A4 Avant and C-class wagon here, should you need further proof. Even if they were, we reckon the 3-series Touring would still be a great choice given its functionality, performance and driving dynamics. In short: it's one of the best family cars around. In fact, the only serious letdown is the devil within (so to speak): the X3 SUV that BMW is promoting in Thailand which is nearly as good on-road and is both more practical and more versatile off the sealed tarmac.
Worse, BMW finishes the X3 at its plant in Rayong, which explains the price tag of 3.599 million baht_ a good 500k less than the Touring even though it has exactly the same engine and transmission.
However great the 320d Touring is, it doesn't really make much sense when compared to the X3 xDrive20d _ and that's an objective point of view. Or maybe this is just a devilishly clever way of making the X3 look a tad cooler in Thai showroom set-ups.
The only other alternative
If we had to choose a vehicle available in Thailand to compete with the BMW 3-series Touring, the only possible candidate would be the Volvo V60.
This cargo-hauling Swede blends a stylish exterior with a practical interior. But neither its front-wheel-drive dynamics nor its 180hp, 1.6-litre petrol-turbo engine is any match for this Bimmer when it's on the move. The V60 lacks the pace, frugality and handling finesse of the 320d Touring. In other words, the Bee-em makes minced meat out of the Volvo when it comes to road performance.The V60's biggest saving grace is price. At 2.269 million baht, it's an eye-watering 1.83 million baht cheaper than the 320d Touring. There are three main reasons for this difference: the V60 comes from Malaysia free of customs duty; excise is levied at a lower rate (22%) because it can guzzle E85 gasohol; and it comes from a brand which doesn't have the same premium-price ambitions as BMW.
Volvo V60 costs 2.269 million baht.
About the author
- Writer: Richard Leu
Position: Motoring news Editor