This year’s Goodwood Festival of Speed was an important one for BMW. Its famous performance arm M was celebrating its 50th anniversary at the show and was being paid tribute to in a variety of different ways. It even had several of its cars positioned on the famous ‘central feature’ at the front of Goodwood House.
Needless to say, BMW M has created some of the most legendary sports cars in motoring history. Cars like the E46 M3 spring to mind, or the V10-powered E61 M5 Touring. But, throughout its 50 years, BMW has never created a production-ready M3 Touring. It’s been a car that enthusiasts have been crying out for a number of years, which is why it has always seemed a little odd that BMW wouldn’t make one.
Until now, that is. Making its full debut at this year’s Goodwood Festival of Speed was the brand-new M3 Touring, arriving much to the excitement of much of the motoring world after several months of teaser images.
In truth, it arrived just as we expected it to. Released in full-fat Competition specification – with all cars incorporating xDrive all-wheel-drive too – the M3 Touring utilises a 3.0-litre twin-turbocharged straight-six engine with 503bhp and 650Nm of torque. Nailing 0-60mph in under 3.5 seconds and carrying on to 155mph, it’s one of the most performance-orientated estate cars around.
Yet with all that power, it still has a 500-litre boot to make use of a practical cabin with plenty of space for all of the family. It’s not hard to understand its wide-reaching appeal.
So when BMW asked if we’d like to take a passenger ride in the M3 Touring at this year’s Goodwood Festival of Speed, we jumped at the chance.
Getting into a car at the Festival of Speed is an absolute whirlwind. It feels as though there’s all the time in the world, to begin with and then before you know it, you’re sprinting through crowds to try and reach the car on time.
So after hurrying through the Festival, we finally get up and close with the living, breathing M3 Touring. Already revealed on a stand, the M3 Touring had been pounding up the hill for numerous runs prior to our turn, putting in some flamboyant driving for the crowds.
We jump into the passenger seat and turn to find Nurburgring racer and BMW tester Frank Weishar sitting behind the wheel. Frank had already been pushing the M3 Touring hard up the famous hill climb, with commentators on the loudspeakers noting his commitment through some of the trickier bends.
We chat for a little bit as we crawl towards the start line of the climb. Frank played a key role in the development of the M3 Touring and explains how the rear suspension of the car had to be fundamentally adjusted – compared with the standard saloon – to compensate for the extra weight at the back that comes with the switch to an estate car.
However, there’s little time to chat once you’re on the start line. The famous Goodwood signage towers above us and the cameras zoom in on the M3’s front end. We get the go-ahead and we’re off, surging towards the first corner which is backed by grandstands. The M3 Touring’s ride quality is oddly noticeable here, as the whole car feels particularly settled and level. Of course, the smooth tarmac of the hill climb isn’t a representation of real-world roads, but it is good all the same.
The engine remains just as punchy as it does in the standard M3, too, feeling no less powerful as Frank pulls another gear to keep the car flowing. Plus, despite being all-wheel-drive, there’s plenty of rear-bias as he executes a perfect slide as we fire past the front of Goodwood House and the paddock grandstand.
The famous Molecomb is up next, which we slide around before firing up towards The Wall which feels even closer in real life than it looks on the television. The M3 Touring has that great unquenchable thirst for heading to the horizon and that’s definitely noticeable as we head underneath the finish sign and, just like that, it’s all over.
Up at the top of the climb, we pause and get out of the car to gawp at numerous other performance cars sitting around us, waiting to return back down. The M3 Touring holds its own against high-end company, too, but it feels even more special knowing that deep down it’s a standard road car with enough space for the family and the dog.
Yet, despite that practicality, it tackled the Goodwood Hill Climb with ease. Now our final opinion has to be left until we can get behind the wheel of the new M3 Touring, but this initial ride is definitely confidence-inspiring. Plus, if it can handle Goodwood, it can handle pretty much anything, right?