Decades in the making, the M3 Touring is weeks away from breaking cover at the Goodwood Festival of Speed. In the meantime, BMW is increasingly eager to talk about the first production M wagon in more than a decade, following the discontinuation of the M5 E61. Australian magazine Car Expert sat down and had a chat with a couple of higher-ups about the M3 G81 and what it took to make it happen.
BMW M CEO Frank Van Meel explained the performance division doesn’t usually do one-offs in the broader sense of the meaning. It means the M3 Touring won’t be a limited-run car like the recently introduced M4 CSL. Instead, it will a permanent member of the lineup and is going to be offered beyond this generation provided there will be enough demand.
The M boss is confident the G81 will be a “huge success” and that BMW is enjoying a “huge demand” already even though the car has yet to be officially revealed. That said, getting the proverbial stamp of approval wasn’t easy since wagons are mainly a European affair, which narrowed the customer base right from the start:
“The biggest challenge is that a Touring concept is first and foremost a European concept – it’s not a world car like the M3 [sedan] itself or the M4, it’s more or less a European concept, so you are focused very strongly on one market, which limits your production numbers. However, the pull from all our major markets was so strong, with everyone desperate for the M3 Touring.”
Separately, BMW M development chief Dirk Hacker told Car Expert it was extremely difficult to make the M3 Touring offer the same driving dynamics as the sedan since the wagon is heavier. Right from the beginning, chassis engineers were told to make the car feel like an M3 Sedan “even if it’s fully laden with passengers and luggage.”
To that end, Klaus Uber, who oversees driving dynamics at the M division, says “we have left no stone unturned on this car.” Every aspect was tweaked to make sure the wagon would be as close to the thrill delivered by the sedan from which it has inherited the 285-mm wide rear tires. So much so that the Touring is nearly as quick and as balanced in a high-speed corner. When it’s time to stop, optional ceramic brakes will be up to the task.
Klaus Uber went on to specify the roof-mounted rear spoiler is an all-new development and has been tailored-made for the M3 Touring to generate extra downforce at the rear axle. The speedy wagon also gets a bespoke stiffening underbody kit and an overhauled suspension with different springs, dampers, and anti-roll bar at both axles. As previously reported, BMW M will sell the car exclusively as a Competition model with xDrive and an automatic transmission.
The world premiere will take place later in June when the M3 Touring will pick up where the unique M3 E46 Touring left off in 2000.
Source: Car Expert