Commuting for fun: month 2 with the BMW M3 Touring

Published: 02 April 2024 Updated: 02 April 2024

► New BMW M3 Touring driven
► 500 litres seats up
Read month 1

Getting to North Wales from the East Midlands is one of my favourite routes ever, with a decent motorway stint followed by an epic B-road run that former Jaguar man Mike Cross showed me about 15 years ago. He thought it such a fantastic test of a chassis that he signed off the XJR-S there.

This time a 5.30am start helps beat Birmingham traffic and my miles in darkness on the M6 and M54 melt away courtesy of the M3’s compliant ride in its Comfort setting, unerring stability, Harmon Kardon surround-sound audio, laser lights, and juicy torque from that unstressed turbo six.

The new BMW M3 Touring makes almost identical power to the old E61 M5 Touring – the one with the V10 and lumpy gearbox – but that car always felt a little jumpy, where the first M3 Touring wears a boot like a comfy pair of slippers, and on a clear run like this it strides cross-country like Gulliver roaming Lilliput.

This doesn't have a V10 but it makes the same power

Which makes it all the more remarkable just how alert the M3 Touring feels on a B-road. The steering is super-responsive for any car, never mind a big estate weighing 1.9 tonnes, and the front-end bite is almost as mighty as the power of the optional carbon-ceramic brakes.

I start with the suspension in Comfort mode (perfect for motorways and the best choice in town, where the M3 can feel stiff jointed) but as my confidence builds so the body starts to feel just a fraction behind the suspension, rocking a little side-to side, particularly at the rear. Switching to Sport locks it down, and with speed under the wheels there’s more than enough compliance to flow.

M3 Touring - our cars modes

Throw 4WD Sport into the mix – more rear bias – and slacken the shackles of stability control, and the M3 becomes indomitable point-to point, melding the interactivity of rear-wheel drive with the competence of all-wheel drive. Even the sat-nav seemed shocked. To be fair, a decent commute.

BMW M3 Touring (month 2)

Price £86,570 (£107,080 as tested)
Performance 2993cc twin-turbocharged straight-six, 503bhp, 3.6sec 0-62mph, 180mph
Efficiency 27.2-28.0mpg (official), 22.6mpg (tested), 229-235g/km
C02 Energy cost 30.5p per mile
Miles this month 1249
Total miles 8437

By Ben Barry

Contributing editor, sideways merchant