This Holy Grail BMW Has Been Over 20 Years in the Making
A Touring version of the M3 is coming soon, and Americans are trying everything to get their hands on it
When we tested out the redesigned BMW M3 in the fall, we called it, along with the M4, “the best combination of speed, prestige and practicality in the automaker’s lineup.” But to be completely honest, the M3, despite already being a four-door sedan, actually could be more practical.
All the way back in 2000, BMW unveiled a version of the M3 that has been scooting around the imagination of space-conscious Bimmer fans ever since: the M3 Touring Concept. The engineers started with that generation’s M3 — the E46, widely considered one of the best, if not the best, versions of the car ever — but extended it into a five-door wagon model. “Millennium driving for daily business,” they called it. “Ultimate driving machine,” onlookers thought while drooling. But it was never put into production.
Now over 20 years later, BMW is on the cusp of unveiling this holy grail car, a real-deal production M3 Touring. In fact this week we got our first official look at the high-performance family car in a video posted to BMW M’s YouTube page. In it, Hans Rahn, head of prototyping, and Dirk Hacker, head of development at the M division, show off the original concept and take a look at the back end of the new model.
“Twenty one years ago, we were already convinced that if we crossed the pure genes of an M3 with the variability and everyday utility of a Touring, the outcome would be a great concept without having to compromise on the typical characteristics of an M3,” Rahn says.
The reason they didn’t put the E46 M3 Touring into production at the turn of the millennium, Rahn says, is because the technical needs were too great to transform the car from its coupe style into the four-door wagon; that generation M3 was exclusively offered as a two-door model. But the car never left the moonshot sheet at the M division, just as it never left the greater car consciousness.
“The car was created by a small group of us with a lot of passion,” says Hacker, adding that the upcoming M3 Touring “will fascinate the fans as much as it has us.”
BMW promises more sneak peeks in future videos before the official reveal sometime later this year, but all of this wish fulfillment is likely to end in disappointment once again for American drivers as the German automaker has said this M3 wagon will not be coming to the U.S.
After two decades of waiting, that’s an unacceptable answer for some. A Change.org petition has been started to convince BMW to bring the car stateside, and it’s currently sitting at just over a whopping 47,000 signatures.
Are these online rallying cries enough to change BMW’s mind and put the vehicles through all the costly homologation hurdles? Probably not. On the other hand, if they ran the math on the percentage of signers likely to place an order, maybe they’ll come to a different conclusion. For the sake of wagon lovers everywhere, let’s hope they do.
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