10/8/13

2014 BMW 3 series wagon review



BMW left a void in many of our hearts in 2011 when they announced that the end of the e90 3 series BMW wagon was near.  For the 2012 and 2013 model year, we were left without a BMW wagon.  We didn't have a 3 series or a 5 series wagon.  Your only option was their line-up of SUVs (including the wagon like X1) or the much maligned 5 series GT.  Thankfully for automotive enthusiasts who wanted something that was less suburban grocery getter and more fun, the 2014 BMW 3 series wagon returned and they even included a diesel variant much to the excitement of enthusiasts!



While they are now offering the touring inspired 3 series GT at the same time, for true performance, the wagon is the better way to go.  Yes, it's true, you cannot get the N55 powered 335 in the wagon whereas it is available in the GT.  The GT has too much body roll to really tear through the bends with that motor.  The new Sport Wagon is powered by the N20 turbo 4 cylinder motor in the 328i xDrive (I dare you to say BMW 328i xDrive Sport Wagon 5 times fast).  The motor is capable of 240 hp and 260 lb/ft of torque that will rocket the N20 powered wagon from 0 - 60 in 6 seconds according to BMW.  And diesel lovers rejoice!  BMW is finally offering a diesel version of their vaunted Sport Wagon as well to satiate your diesel wagon needs.  They even offer it in Jalopnik brown (trademark pending).  The diesel shares the same motor as the 328d sedan featuring 180 hp and 280 lb/ft of torque capable of a respectable 0 - 60 sprint in 7 seconds.  More importantly for those of you who are fuel conscious you can achieve 43 MPG highway in the diesel compared to 33 MPG with the N20 motor.  Though you lose a second in speed with the diesel you do gain +10 MPG which given the current gas prices ain't half bad.  And the amenities available in both models are no slouch either.

When you're building the wagons to your desired specifications it's easy to push the price into the $50k range like any respectable BMW but there's just so many cool toys available these days.  Available options include things such as the BMW Navigation system, BMW Apps, rear-camera, blind spot detection, lane departure warning systems and more.  More importantly for enthusiasts though is the fact that the Sport Automatic Transmission is now standard which kind of makes up for the lack of available manual transmission.  The SAT is capable of faster more efficient gear shifts and include that delectable exhaust burble when you change your own gears.  Add in the fact that the M Sport line includes the M suspension on top of the sportier look and you can build yourself a rather aggressive wagon.  (editor's note: upgraded suspension only comes in Dynamic Handling Package, not M Sport despite their website saying the contrary. Thanks MJ for pointing it out)  While you can't get the N55 twin turbo 6 cylinder here in the states, there's no end to the fun you could have with one of these wagons.  Picture bombing down the back roads with the latest mid-century piece you found while "antiquing" with the better half on the weekends.  Ahhhhhh, it's practically suburban bliss...

The drive of the wagon does not disappoint.  While it does have the distinct numbness of the F30 chassis, the car still goes exactly where you want it to.  You do lose some of the feedback that the E46 and the E91 wagons enjoyed but it's still a BMW worthy of the Roundel on the hood.  When comparing the GT and the Sport Wagon, the advantage of the Sport Wagon is the lower center of gravity and more aggressive ride height.  While neither will compare to the sedan or even the new 4 series, it's still a much better alternative to giving into the American dream and buying yourself a giant SUV.  The Sport Wagon sacrifices some of the passenger comfort of the GT but gains in greater versatility and the more fun drive.  Remember when choosing which one to buy that you should be analyzing YOUR needs.  Either car is a great addition and you should be choosing the right ride for you.

Overall, the new Sport Wagon is a worthy successor to the outgoing E91 model and gains in versatility and size while sacrificing some of the sportiness of the last generation.  However, with the right configuration, you can build yourself a downright fun wagon that enjoys the benefits of the new N20 motor.  It won't sound like the 3.0L inline six it replaced but the early introduction of the torque will more than make up for it when you depress the throttle.  Make sure the kids are buckled in.  It's a hell of a ride. 

2 comments:

  1. "Add in the fact that the M Sport line includes the M suspension on top of the sportier look and you can build yourself a rather aggressive wagon. "

    The wagon will not come with the M Suspension since it is an xDrive model. This is very unfortunate, as DHP is your only option for a stiffer suspension.

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    1. You're right. Silly me for believing BMW's site against my better judgement. According to the Ordering Guide it does not include the suspension. Yeesh. At least you can get DHP though right?

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