As well as being the most popular BMW model, the 3 Series has a rich and illustrious heritage - and the sixth generation estate continues that tradition in some style.
Just a cursory glance at BMW's latest addition to its fleet provides a visual treat; the car's lines, how it sits on the road and its sheer presence makes it a car to savour. If estates needed a renaissance, the 3 Series Touring would be leading it.
With prices starting from £25,400, the 3 Series Touring has a unique blend of looks, performance and practicality wrapped up in a stylish package crammed full of the latest technology.
The new car is 97mm longer overall and 50mm longer in the wheelbase than before and that, together with the steeply raked D-pillars, angle of the rear window and the traditional 'Hofmeister kink', adds a real sense of forward motion to the profile.
Naturally, practicality is an essential requirement for any estate car worth its salt and we can report the 3 Series does not disappoint, boasting class-leading luggage capacity – 495 litres to be precise, 35 more than the previous 3 Series Touring – and thanks to the rear seats having a 40:20:40 split, the total boot space is an exceptional 1,500 litres with the rear seats folded.
There are other thoughtful touches to the Touring's practical package: at the touch of the keyfob button, the boot can be opened electrically – perfect for those rainy supermarket trips. It can also be opened by a switch on the A-pillar, a button on the boot, or if specified, by passing your foot under the rear bumper, useful when your hands are full. The window can also be opened independently from the tailgate – ideal for putting small items into the boot.
The clever technology doesn't stop there. The 3 Series Touring can be ordered with "BMW ConnectedDrive" – a range of intelligent driver assistance features. Connecting a mobile phones to the internet or to Bluetooth is quicker and safer than ever before and if drivers download the BMW Connected app to their phone, they'll be able to remotely unlock and lock the car as well as control the interior temperature.
Once inside the toasty cabin, passengers can enjoy further warmth through the heated seats and settle down to some TV - all Freeview channels can be accessed - or enjoy the view through the optional panoramic glass sunroof.
Other highlights include the latest full colour Heads-up Display, the Lane Change and Lane Departure Warning systems and the Active Security Package that pre-empts a collision and readies the car's systems.
There's an impressive engine range too all hooked up to a rear-wheel-drive layout. With diesel expected to be the most popular choice, there's a super-frugal 2.0-litre 320d which boasts the latest fuel-saving technology, returning 60.1mpg (combined) and emitting just 123 g/km of CO2 in the automatic version with 125g/km in the manual. The range peaks with the 3.0-litre 330d, a real performance estate that reaches 62mph in 5.6 seconds, returns 55.4mpg (combined) and emits just 135g/km of CO2.
The first petrol engine - there are more variants on the way, both diesel and petrol - is the 2.0-litre turbocharged unit, badged 328i, which hits 62mph in six seconds and returns 41.5mpg (combined) and emits just 159 g/km of CO2
The all-new for 2012 BMW 3 Series Touring is available to order now.