2016 BMW 328i xDrive Touring

2016 BMW 328i Touring xDrive

BMW’s dynamic brilliance wrapped in a sensible package


It looks like wagons are making a comeback…

Finally! The wagon renaissance appears to be alive and well, and we fully welcome the ever expanding offerings of this body style. We Canadians tend to thumb our noses at them… but why? They are better to drive than their SUV counterparts, get better mileage, and hold more stuff. In some cases, they look even better than the sedans on which they’re based. BMW has always offered a wagon throughout its lineup (remember the delicious but Euro-only M5 Touring?) but over the years they’ve only been available sporadically to us Canadians. It appears as though that’s about to change.

The 3-seires went under the knife recently, didn’t it?

Yes. Those intimately familiar with the F30 vintage (hard to believe its been almost 4 years since its inception) will spot new LED head and tailgate treatments with revised facias, as well as some minor interior changes. There are slight tweaks to the available option packages and pricing as well. That’s all well and good, but the changes that get our attention take place beneath the skin.

Looks like BMW is getting serious about restoring the “Ultimate Driving Machine” mandate, huh?

And not a moment too soon. BMW’s crown jewel is the 3-series, a car that virtually is the brand, has been chastised over the last few years for becoming too soft and isolated. Great news if your coming from a Lexus ES350, not so great if your priority is owning a well rounded sports sedan. BMW promises us “significantly enhanced” driving dynamics, a subject in which they are well versed. Many of the dirty bits are swapped out for stuff that is meant to heighten the driving experienced- new struts in the front suspension and revised dampers out back will ensure the 3-series level of engagement becomes closer to its predecessors. Retuned electric steering is meant to imbue with car with more obedient directional changes and sharpen up accuracy, and it is certainly an improvement. Those looking for E36 levels of feedback through the tiller will continue to be disappointed. Give BMW some time to figure this out- Porsche hasn’t been in the EPS game for too long, but it has what must be one of the most feelsome racks in the business.

Awesome. I’m going to order mine with the M Sport package, manual gearbox and the turbo inline six.

Er, that will be a problem. Whether you specify gas or diesel power, you’ll have the option of adding the tasty hardware that comes with the M Sport package (especially the oversized brakes with blue calipers as seen on our tester) but here’s the bad news- a manual gearbox isn’t offered, nor is the burly turbo inline six from the 3-series sedan. One can hold out hope that this changes in the future, but for now these are your only choices.

Is there any other bad news?

No car in existence is free from critic, and the 328i Touring is no exception. Our tester suffered from a few afflictions that a trip to the dealership should solve- the iDrive infotainment system would often simply shut off without warning, leaving us without navigation, music or the backup camera and the headlight beam was woefully misaligned, lighting the road only a few feet further than the front bumper. The other nits come in the form of steering feel that still has a ways to go before it can hold a candle to an older 3-series model (see above) and despite BMW’s new modular engine strategy, the loss of two cylinders mean that the N20 engine simply can’t hold a candle to the traditional inline six for sonorous noises.

Should you buy a Touring over an SUV?

In case it hasn’t been made clear, we overwhelmingly favor transportation solutions outside the SUV space. It’s not that they don’t serve a purpose, but for the vast majority of our commuting a car will do just fine. You might be giving up the commanding view of the read an SUV affords, but that sacrifice yields other gifts in terms of athleticism, increased efficiency and a voluminous cargo hold that is easy to access. Hopefully shoppers realize this and voice their approval through their wallets. If the response is good enough, perhaps BMNW will expand its Touring offerings in our marketplace- maybe we’ll even see an M3 Touring…

2016 BMW 328i xDrive Touring — Specifications

Price as tested: $56,245

Body Type: 5-door, 4 passenger wagon

Powertrain Layout: Front engine/all-wheel drive

Engine:  2.0-litre inline-four turbo, DOHC, 16 valves

Horsepower: 241 @ 5,000 rpm

Torque (lbs-ft.): 258 @ 1,250-4,800 rpm

Transmission: 8-speed automatic

Curb weight: 1,735 kg (3,825 lbs)

Observed Fuel consumption: 10.9L/100km (22 mpg)