BMW has confirmed that it will be offering its savage new-generation M3 sports-sedan in its Touring wagon body style, which the German brand says is in the early stages of a two-year development period.
Offered as a Touring for the first time in the M3’s near-35-year history, and will compete against the likes of the Audi RS4 Avant in the niche performance wagon segment.
The M3 Touring will also compete with its reskinned sibling, the Alpina B3 Touring, which is set to arrive imminently on Australian shores and provides much of the performance of an M3 with a greater focus on ride comfort.
Adding the M3 Touring to BMW’s local stable would see its range of M-fettled mid-size options expand to four along with the M3 sedan, M4 coupe and M4 convertible, and could even expand to five should the M4 Gran Coupe be made a reality.
BMW has only released a single, darkened teaser image of the M3 Touring’s rear, while the front-end look of the M3 sedan is still a mystery.
Both the M3 sedan and M4 are set for a reveal in September, which should fill in most of the visual blanks for the M3 Touring, however it remains to be seen whether the M3 will use the same front fascia as the 3 Series or whether it will adopt the more extreme look of the 4 Series and its large, vertically oriented kidney grilles.
BMW said it first floated the idea of an M3 Touring in 2000, when a prototype for the third-generation M3 was launched, however it has taken the company over 20 years to make the hot wagon a reality.
BMW has offered a Touring variant before on its one-size-larger M5 (E34 and E60 generations), so its M performance arm already has experience in creating hi-po haulers.
Power for the M3 Touring is set to come from BMW’s S58 3.0-litre twin-turbo inline six-cylinder engine, which under the bonnet of the X3 M Competition produces 375kW/600Nm.
In recent history, BMW Australia has chosen to bring only the more highly tuned Competition variant of its hi-po cars to Australia, however it remains to be seen whether the M3 Touring will be offered in Competition spec.
Given the Competition grade has been offered across the M4 Coupe and Convertible body styles in the past, there is no reason to believe the same won’t apply to the M3 Sedan and Touring.
Power will most likely be delivered through an eight-speed automatic, while BMW has announced the M3 sedan will be offered with both pure rear-wheel drive as well as its rear-biased xDrive all-wheel-drive system.
Like other M models, the M3 Touring will be developed at the Nurburgring Nordschleife, and will feature a wider track, larger front air intakes, quad-exit exhausts and other visual and performance upgrades.
Currently, the only 3 Series Touring variant available Down Under is the $78,900 330i Touring, powered by a 190kW/400Nm 2.0-litre turbo-petrol four-cylinder mill.
The primary advantages of the Touring are in its boot space, with 500 litres on offer (20L more than the sedan) which can expand to 1510L with the rear seats folded.
More details on the M3 Touring are likely to emerge when the M3 sedan is unveiled in September.