Words: Calvin Chan
Photography: Calvin Chan
Published: February 2, 2016
Who said wagons aren’t cool? Here we have a star example to prove that theory wrong – the BMW 328i Touring, probably one of the sportiest and best looking wagons I can think of on the Canadian market today.
Unfortunately, Canadians only have a limited array of these cargo-hauling four-wheeled chariots. We aren't offered the same choices as overseas, such as the BMW 5-Series Touring, the Jaguar XF Sportbrake, or the Audi A6 Avant. That’s because these station wagons don’t stir up much positive reaction from North Americans. BMW thinks it can, and this stellar 328i Touring just might change your view on these adept grocery getters.
For 2016, the 3-series has been given a minor refresh. As the heart and soul of BMW with over 14 million units sold globally and accounting for more than 25% of its sales, the 3-series is a car that BMW cannot afford to muck up. So any change they make has to be beyond perfection.
New LEDs with an extra “eyebrow” furnish the front fascia, while tapered LED taillights round out the back. To address concerns from the outgoing model, the chassis has also been given a slight revision with new front struts, new rear damper technology, and redesigned electric power steering.
Though the cosmetic changes are minimal, the new lights give it a unique appearance when the sun has fallen. In addition, the beautiful Mineral White paint that adorns our cargo carrier ($875) adds much more depth and sparkle than the bolder but flatter Alpine White paint that comes standard. Matched with the contrasting black 19-inch wheels (18s for our snow tires) and roof rails, our tester offers a sporty appeal right down to the bright blue M calipers.
Not much has changed in the interior, so we won’t dive into too much detail. The center cupholders now gets a mechanical cover, meaning no more detachable panel that you would throw into the glovebox (this is what they should have done from the beginning).
A large sunroof keeps all occupants happy with a fresh dose of Vitamin D, and there is plenty of headroom thanks to the added girth out back. Along with snug and cosseting seats and a wonderful driving position, the Touring provides a near perfect and well-sorted interior.
Our 328i tester also receives some BMW Individual trim pieces such as that white marble looking panel running along the center console, dashboard, and doors. On closer inspection, you’ll notice the dark natural grains running through – it is actually white ash wood!
Trunk space is one of the biggest advantages with the Touring model: 495L with all five seats occupied and the number blossoms to 1,500L with the rear seats folded flat. Throw in your golf clubs, skis, or pets, and you will still have enough room to fit a few passengers.
The 328i Touring also receives a Comfort Access System. With the keyfob in your pocket, waive your foot right below the rear bumper and the trunk will open by itself. This comes in handy when your hands are full from lugging groceries. Even the rear windshield can open separately for easier cargo access.
Two engine options can be had with the 3-series Touring: a 4-cylinder gasoline pushing 241 hp and 258 lb-ft, and a 4-cylinder diesel producing 180hp and an impressive 280 lb-ft. Both come standard with an 8-speed transmission that powers all four wheels via BMW’s xDrive four-wheel drive system.
In comparison, the 328i offers more mid-range gruff with power aplenty, but it doesn’t win by much. However, the higher horsepower figure helps it in the long run and augments the experience with a better exhaust note and more satisfying high-rpm gear changes. Of course, the major tradeoff is fuel economy. Whereas the 328d averaged 6.9 L/100km, the 328i averaged a measly 10.9 L/100km. And in today’s economy, diesel is much cheaper than the 91-octane fuel that the 328i drinks.
If you plan on leasing a Touring for a few years, go the 328i route because it’s highly unlikely that you will recoup the extra money spent for the diesel during that three-year contract. If you’re planning on keeping the car for a long period of time however, the diesel will give you more noticeable savings at the pump.
In terms of driving dynamics, our 328i’s snow tires and all-wheel-drive kept it planted in most conditions. You can push it into slight oversteer on dry roads and because the suspension is so well sorted, you can easily finesse your way back into control. If you want your Touring to turn into a rear-wheel biased sports wagon, flip that toggle into Sport+ that eases up the stability control and find some damp roads. The tail will leisurely fling out and allow for some cornering theatrics.
In terms of options, if you want your 328i to look dapper and sporty, hit up the M Sport Package ($3,000) that loads it up with flared front bumpers, sport seats, and a fatter steering wheel that you’d find on all the current high-performance M cars.
If you want your 328i to perform better, take a look at the M Performance Package ($1,900) that gets bigger wheels, better brakes, Adaptive M Suspension and Variable Sport Steering.
The Adaptive M Suspension adjusts the dampers to suit the chosen mode by measuring vehicle speed and wheel vibrations. Comfort Mode dampens the ride, absorbs the bumps, and keeps the ride complacent with the road. Sport mode on the other hand firms things up. Bumps are felt through your spine and the car feels ten times more taut around corners.
Variable Sport Steering is also a nice addition to have. The steering weight becomes speed dependent and you will need to turn the wheel less to move the same angles, allowing for a higher degree of steering precision. It still doesn’t solve the mystery of numb electric steering but it does its best. The steering gets heavy during low and high speeds, and moderate in between. I’ve bashed at it before but I’m starting to enjoy the variations. Overall, the 328i offers more steering feedback than before.
Will the 328i Touring lure buyers away from hot-off-the-press crossovers like the BMW X1? It’s hard to say. Wagons are going to need a lot more marketing and reinstallation of the “cool” factor before Canadians decide to fall back from the SUV craze.
It’s unfortunate, because the 328i Touring has got the face, the luxury, and the handling to devour these large behemoths. Not only does it feel faster than the X1, but firmer and more playful as well. Now only if BMW would make a 340i Touring or hell, bring over that feisty Alpina B3 Touring from overseas, then maybe, just maybe, the BMW wagon would be back in business. Until then, we just hope the current iterations are here to stay.
型号 Model: 2016 BMW 328i xDrive Touring
顏色 Paint Type: Mineral White
廠方建議售價 Base Price: $48,050
試車售價 Price as Tested: $56,245
軸距 Wheelbase(mm): 2,809
長闊 Length/Width/Height (mm): 4,625 / 1,811 / 1,435
車重 Curb weight (kg): 1,644
引擎 Engine: 2.0L turbocharged inline-four
最大馬力 Horsepower: 241 hp @ 5,000 rpm
最高扭力 Torque: 258 lb-ft @ 1,250 - 4,800 rpm
波箱 Transmission: 8-speed automatic
擺佈 Engine & Drive Configuration: Front engine, AWD (xDrive)
油耗 Fuel Consumption ( City / Highway / Combined ) L/100km: 10.6 / 7.2 / 9.1
油耗 Observed Fuel Consumption (L/100km): 10.9
輪胎尺碼 Tires: Pirelli Sottozeros; 225/45 R18