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BMW E36 Three Series - Tourings

Unlike the E30 touring the E36 estate version had been planned from the start. Gone were the narrow loading "beer gap" on the hatch and the awkward folding rear seat. This was BMW's second mainstream estate car the E34 touring having come out a few years earlier.


BMW E36 touring

Touring with Motorsport body pack and 16" double spoke alloys.

But E36 buyers had to wait a few years for production capacity to catch up with the increased demand for the new model. The E30 touring soldiered on until 1994 and as a result all tourings had the newer engines and electrics of the facelift models. Early cars didn't have a third brake light in the UK and had to wait for the new style grille.

As is usual with BMW almost everything was an optional extra including the roof rails. My first touring didn't have them and looked all the better for it, in fact I've had tourings for years and have yet to use the roof rails once. Specification on tourings varied widely from very basic all the way to leather and the Motorsport body pack. One thing the E36 skimped on was the separately opening tailgate window as seen on the E34 and E46 tourings. As was the case with the E30 the tailgate tends to be prone to rust below the rear window.


BMW E36 touring

A friend's 328i touring.

The load bay in the touring is a good deal larger than the E30 and will easily take a full size bicycle. Access is excellent through the wide rear hatch. There are two side pockets which provide useful hidden storage for smaller items and the left one contains a CD multi-changer (cars without one still have the wiring).

The load bay covers don't seem to go missing as was always the case with E30s. The cover could contain an optional dog-guard net which plugged into two fixtures in the headlining. The E36 had a tool roll in the right hand pocket in place of the boot mounted tool kit.


BMW E36 touring

The boot is bigger than it looks, my second 328i.

I've had two 328i tourings and loved them to bits. The first had AC Schnitzer suspension and the second M-Tech. There was slightly too much understeer but the fitting of an M3 Evo rear anti-roll bar fixed that and left me with simply excellent handling that was perfect for B roads and not too stiff for long A road journeys. If I found a nice 328i I'd happily swap my E46 Sport for it. The E46 just feels too big and whilst it can corner fast it feels more isolated from the road and is far less enjoyable to drive. Touring drivers sacrifice very little driving pleasure in return for the extra load space.


BMW E36 touring

Alpina touring from Switzerland.