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BMW E46 Three Series - Touring

Tourings were available very quickly following the launch of the E46, previously with the E36 they were years behind due to production problems. This enhanced availability led to the five door selling very well indeed especially as it was the first three series touring to be sold in the US market. It was the ideal performance estate car. I own a 2002 325i sport touring and love it.


BMW E46 touring

Pre-facelift 328i SE touring.

Some of the rear lights were now incorporated in the tailgate allowing for a slightly wider opening than with the previous model. The fact that the E46 was generally a larger car enabled a bigger load bay not far behind that of the E39 five series. It was also the first three series to have the separately opening rear glass pioneered on the E34. A very handy feature when you only have one bag of shopping to put in. Roof rails were standard but the cross beams to link them were optional!


BMW E46 touring

The spacious load bay with rear seats folded.

The use of a space saver spare wheel meant there was space for a generously large hidden compartment under the boot floor for storing flatter objects and the sort of "handy" oddments tourings tend to accumulate. Side pockets housed the six pack CD player with a holder for extra CDs, the satnav unit, warning triangle, jack and tools. All E46s had a rear mounted battery on the right hand side.


BMW E46 touring

CD, tools, under floor compartment and battery.

Touring seats split 60/40 and had standard rear head rests. The load bay cover was held by two clips and there was an optional version contained a dog guard net. The load bay will easily take a full size bicycle without removing the wheels. Once you get used to a touring it's hard to wean yourself off the practicality, perhaps that's why my E46 is my fourth touring after an E30 and two E36s.


BMW E46 touring

320d ES with handy separately opening rear window.

The only weak point compared to other E46s is the rear wiper. The motor isn't the problem, it's the bearing on the glass section that has the issue. Eventually its lubricant dries up and starts to tear itself to bits which can be terminal. The wiper gets slow and slower until it's so stiff you can barely move it by hand. It can be stripped and re-greased if caught in time.

Other than that the main downside is weight, about 55kg more than a compact and 110 more than a coupe. But it handles well for a large car despite that especially with the sport suspension. It's not as nimble as an E36 touring but that was a tough act to beat.


BMW E46 touring

2001 facelift 320d touring.