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Estates of play: BMW M3 Touring group test

8 months ago

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Andrew Frankel | Ti co-founder


6 October 2023

Even for someone who has been doing this for a while, discovering you’re not quite so damn clever as you thought happens more often than you might imagine. You drive three cars weeks, months, perhaps years apart, and because you have figured out what you think about each, you reckon you could make a fair approximation of what they’re like relative to each other. It’s a mistake that’s all too easy to make. Take the following example.

We were so excited about the prospect of finally being able to do this test, it only becoming possible after BMW finally gave up its hitherto steadfast refusal to marry M3 running gear to Touring bodywork. BMW M3 versus Alpina B3 versus BMW M340i, all in Touring form? Well it was a prospect too delicious to pass by. But even as we gathered in a quiet corner of Wiltshire their roles already seemed cast: the M3 the rocketship, the B3 the executive express, the M340i the plucky compromise for those who can’t quite afford the small BMW estate they really want. Thing is, it didn’t quite turn out like that.

Given they all got built in the same factory and on the same platform, given all have 3-litre, straight-six turbo motors, eight-speed ZF automatic transmissions and all have four-wheel drive, there are some intriguing differences in their specifications.

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