330i Touring is everything one could want if an SUV doesn’t catch one’s fancy.
‘BMW’ and ‘station wagons’ are two terms you don’t often see together here in Singapore. Elsewhere in the world, especially in Europe, the Touring body style is far more common. But in the same year, BMW launched two very appetising models, the M3 Touring and the 330i Touring.
I’ve driven both, and which one I like better might surprise you. Warning: I’ve always been a fan of wagons, so this review will be a wee bit biased.
First, this is not a brand new model generation, but a facelift instead and is only available in this spec in 330i M-Sport Pro package.
Visually, it looks really handsome, especially in white against the contracting black grilles and bumper accents. While it’s not as aggressive as the M3 Touring, the car still looks mean yet modest.
Aside from the exterior, the M Sport Pro kit features an M Sport suspension, which is supposedly sportier and firmer for spirited driving. But it still offers a well-balanced and pliant ride for your daily commute. In fact, it rates as one of the best set-ups I’ve driven this year. The excellent mix of ride comfort and body control when you go hard in the corners is perfect.
The 18-inch M light alloy wheels in the double-five-spoke style 848 M Bicolour guise suit the car well, although as a big-wheel guy, I’d probably go one up to 19″ if I had one. All the better to show off the blue M brake callipers.
But it’s not all looks and no-go. The 330i M Sport drives well, very well. With 245bhp and 400Nm of torque, the BWM wagon’ four-cylinder, 2.0-litre turbocharged engine will help it dispatch the century sprint in 6.1 seconds. But it’s how it does it that impresses me most. The torque starts to build up at a low 1,600 rpm, and it feels punchy all the way past 4,000 rpm.
Body control is excellent, and the car handles superbly with the variable sport steering.
Turn-in is sharp, and you never feel like the car is doing anything other than what you’re telling it to do. Unlike a tall SUV that often exhibits some body roll in fast corners, the 330i Touring always feels composed and inspires confidence even when carrying speed into the bends. Speaking of ‘carrying’, you also get the same space benefits as an SUV for your cargo in this wagon, all 500 litres of it – 1,510 litres if you fold everything flat. So you enjoy the best of both worlds.
All BMW Touring models have a unique (and practical) touch in the twin-opening hatch, and the 330i is no different. This feature allows quick access to the boot space via the rear glass panel without having to open the whole hatch door. This is especially useful when parking in tight spaces.
Inside, it’s the typical modern BMW fare. Wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are standard, as are the Parking Assistant and Reversing Assistant, which remember your inputs from the last 50 metres and will help you reverse the car out of those tight spots and narrow lanes.
I’m not a fan of Driving Assistant features, but if you are, the 330i Touring has the whole package that assists the driver in many situations. Features include lane change warning, steering intervention, rear collision warning, and rear crossing traffic warning.
Also standard is BMW’s Comfort Access feature, which provides keyless access to the vehicle. You can also set the car to automatically unlock when approaching the vehicle and lock it when moving away. All of these are proven to be really convenient and nifty.
On the whole, the 330i Touring ticked a whole lot of boxes in a list I didn’t have. I got in the car with little to no expectations, seeing that this was an LCI (BMW speak for facelift) model, but walked away really impressed.
It’s techy enough to meet the standards of the modern driver, practical enough to fit the needs of a family man and packed with enough performance for the keen driver. It’s all you need in a car.
So yes, the M3 Touring will always be the distinct halo model, but the 330i Touring is the one I’d drive any day, every day.
BMW 330i Touring M-Sport Pro
Engine: 1,998cc turbocharged inline four-cylinder petrol
0-100km/h: 6.1 seconds (claimed)
Top Speed: 250km/h (claimed)
Fuel Economy (combined): 7.7-litres/100km or 13km/litre (claimed)
Price: from $406,888 incl. COE (accurate at the time of article)
Contact: BMW Singapore