Extended Test: 2019 BMW 3 Series Touring (G21) review

Life with BMW's family estate car

More Info


  • Model 2019 BMW G21 330d xDrive M Sport Plus Edition Touring B57O 3.0d
  • Price £48,115 OTR
  • Price with options £55,455 OTR
  • Colour Dravit Grey metallic
  • Cost options fitted Black with Blue stitching Vernasca Leather (£500); Visibility package (£1,500);  Technology package (£1,900); Premium package (£1,900); Comfort package (£890); Parking Assistant Plus (£650)
  • Motor 2,993cc, six-cylinder BMW TwinPower Turbo diesel
  • Power output 261bhp @ 4,000rpm
  • Torque 428 lb ft @ 1750 – 2750
  • Kerb weight (DIN/EU) 1,745kg / 1,820kg
  • Towing capacity 1,800kg (braked) / 750kg (unbraked)
  • Luggage capacity 500 – 1,510 litres
  • Top speed 155mph
  • 0-62mph 5.4sec
  • Fuel consumption (WLTP combined cycle) 42.8mpg
  • CO2 emissions (NEDC1) 142g/km
  • CO2 emissions (WLTP2) 172g/km
  • Road tax1 £210 for first year; £465 for years 2-6 (attracts £320 charge for cars over £40,000); £145 thereafter
  • Road tax2 £855 for first year; £465 for years 2-6 (attracts £320 charge for cars over £40,000); £145 thereafter
  • BIK tax payable (2019/20) 36%; £3,961 (20%) or £7,923 (40%)
  • Insurance group 39

1 Valid for cars registered before April 1, 2020
2 Valid for cars registered after April 1, 2020

Test details

  • Test period November 2019 – May 2020
  • Starting mileage 1,166 miles


November 28, 2019: First impressions

Extended Test: 2019 BMW 3 Series Touring 330d xDrive (G21) review by Will Dron for Sunday Times Driving.co.uk - side view

Jeremy Clarkson has been banging on for years about the brilliance of the BMW 530d Touring (Munich-speak for ‘estate’), and in his five star review of the latest version said, “Until there is a breakthrough in what we drive and who drives it and what powers it and what controls it, this is as good as it gets. It’s 130 years of development brought together in a package that’s as faultless as current technology permits.”

But what happens when you drop the same in-line six cylinder diesel engine into the 5 Series estate’s little brother, the 3 Series Touring? For the next six months I’ll be finding out, taking the BMW 330d Touring on the the daily commute, family trips (I have a wife and two small children) and every other possible scenario to find out if it cuts the mustard. In March, I’ll even be taking it to the alps for a couple of days, which should give the xDrive system a proper workout.

The latest 3 Series is another cracker, according to many who’ve driven it, and based on the first drive of the Touring at its launch, Driving.co.uk’s reviewer awarded the 330d Touring (in very similar spec) four and a half stars.

This seventh generation 3 Series, which launched this year, is far from the least attractive in its lineage. I don’t think we flattered the G21 (the G20 being the saloon) with our photoshoot in fading light during a downpour (the poor thing looks so much like Andie MacDowell in Four Weddings and a Funeral I can almost hear it bleat, “Is it still raining? I hadn’t noticed.”), so here’s a press handout so you can see what it looks like in brighter conditions:

2019 BMW 3 Series Touring review

And our man Nick Lette van Oostvoorne was right to point out that it retains some of the key characteristics that mark out a “3er”: a sporty, low-slung driving position; intuitively laid-out controls; the split-opening tailgate (shown above); and a decently spacious boot.

I’ve also been impressed so far with the general refinement — the build quality is absolutely superb, with cabin noise kept to a minimum and a truly excellent ride on a mix of road surfaces — not jarring over bumps but not too soft for genuine enjoyment. And this is riding on the larger 19in wheels that come with the M Sport Plus Edition specification (18s are standard on M Sport models, but you can add the larger wheels for £750).

Speaking of refinement, the 330d engine is an absolute peach: six cylinders of silky-smooth wonder, with a noise that could be mistaken for a petrol. Honestly, it’s that good. What it offers over a petrol is greater torque from lower revs and improved fuel economy on longer runs, though I’ve already found it drops dramatically in town — on dual carriageways I’ve seen the economy head northwards of 50mpg but in central London, where I spend most of my commute, I’ve been getting more like 31mpg, resulting in an average since the car was delivered on November 15 of 34.2mpg.

Extended Test: 2019 BMW 3 Series Touring 330d xDrive (G21) review by Will Dron for Sunday Times Driving.co.uk - engine

Still, that’s pretty good for an engine with 261bhp and capable of propelling the car from zero to 62mph in 5.4sec and hitting 155mph. And I can take comfort from the knowledge that it has an AdBlue tank, to help neutralise the diesel fuel’s nitrogen oxide emissions, which we know are harmful to health.

I’m being massively pampered with the spec of this car, it has to be said. M Sport Plus Edition is the top trim level, ignoring the M models (which are much more performance-oriented). You can see the full spec above, which includes just about every upgrade you get, including all-round cameras, laser headlights, digital driver’s display, upgraded stereo, heated seats and steering wheel, and head-up display.

Extended Test: 2019 BMW 3 Series Touring 330d xDrive (G21) review by Will Dron for Sunday Times Driving.co.uk - digital driver's display

The only thing I’m missing out on, I think is the top-level Merino leather interior (£990 instead of the £500 Vernasco leather upgrade included here), so it’s hard to grumble. I’ll have a go over the next few months, though, as there are some things that I’m already a little disappointed about, and there are a few tech features that are in my view no more than gimmicks. Bookmark this page and keep coming back to follow my reports.

Mileage today 1,649 miles
Distance since start 483 miles
Average consumption 34.2mpg (indicated)

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December 23, 2019: Bootiful stuff

Extended Test: 2019 BMW 3 Series Touring 330d xDrive (G21) review by Will Dron for Sunday Times Driving.co.uk - rear window opening

BMW doesn’t own the split-opening tailgate idea, as shown above, where the rear window can be opened independently of the main hatch — you can find it on the likes of the Skoda Superb, for example. But its a feature (standard on this G21 model) that goes back to at least the E46 Touring of 1997, and as owners of the 5 Series Touring and Gran Turismo models also benefit from it, it feels like a BMW ‘thing’.

And what an excellent thing it is, too. As first, you think it’d just be useful for long loads — your Ikea wardrobe flat-pack boxes, for example. But I’ve taken advantage of it a number of times already, when the car has been back up close to another vehicle or wall — too close to open the rear hatch fully — to drop in shopping backs and other items.

The fact that it’s light and can be popped open in a second, and closed just as easily, makes it very handy if you’re in a hurry. If you have dogs, I would imagine it would be useful for events such as garden parties, allowing the animals to get a good amount of air while still being tied up inside (you wouldn’t be able to leave them, obviously).

The best thing of all, another motoring journalist told me, is that you can go around telling people it’s an “active aero device”. Well, it made me laugh, anyway.

2019 BMW 3 Series luggage capacity - boot space dimensions

The main tailgate is automatic as standard and opens to reveal a 500-litre space when the rear seats are in place, which compares well against the refreshed-for-2019 A4 Avant (495 litres) and Mercedes C-class Estate (460 litres). I’d include the Jaguar XE Sportbrake here but there isn’t one; Jag’s 3 Series rival is available as a saloon only.

The 3 Series Touring’s seats fold 40:20:40, and I’ve manage to drop the centre armrest between two child seats, which meant my wife and two children were able to come with me to collect a Christmas tree this year. This felt magical for the kids and ensured I didn’t get any blame for choosing a tree that wasn’t up to scratch.

I found I was able to pass the self-cut 6.5fter into the boot and between the kids without too much issue, other than the netting snagging on one of the seat catches. I failed to photograph the tree in situ, sadly, so you’ll have to take this pre-loading snap as proof.

Christmas tree

Take the child seats out and fold the two outer seats and the 3 Series Touring can swallow 1,510 litres of luggage, which again beats the A4 Avant (1,495 litres) and C-class Estate (1,480 litres). Combine that with a nice wide opening, flat floor, under-floor storage for boot cover and partition net, bag hooks, plus the (optional) 12v socket and anti-slip rails, and the BMW does seem to be one of the most practical estates of its class.

Merry Christmas, folks.

Mileage today 2,155 miles
Distance since start 989 miles
Average consumption 34.1mpg (indicated)

Want to ask a question? Contact me via Twitter:

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