In all the fuss about the new 3 Series Gran Turismo, the 3 Series Sports Wagon has been somewhat overlooked. However Cars.com ran across one at the Chicago Auto Show and shared some interesting thoughts and pictures:
A new wagon debuted under the radar at Detroit; BMW's update of the 3 Series Sports Wagon, even though the company one-upped it withthe announcement of the 3 series Gran Turismo. BMW has tried the GT hatch layout before with the 5 Series GT. It fell flat with few sales in the U.S.
I think the 3 Series GT is set for the same fate, especially when you consider that the wagon is well-executed. I found one nearly hidden at the 2013 Detroit auto show in January and was happy to see it more prominently displayed at Chicago's auto show.
The striking blue paint job highlighted its looks, but even the staid silver shown in Detroit showed off the handsome lines of the wagon's styling. It certainly is more fluid than the first shots of the GT and its frumpy rear.
Inside the wagon, you get the backseat space that I found so accommodating in the new 3 Series sedan last year. The GT has 2.8 inches more rear legroom, though. The GT also outdoes the Sports Wagon in the cargo area. It has 18.3 cubic feet of space, a full cubic foot more than the wagon. It gains that space because the wheelbase is 4.3 inches longer than the wagon, and the exterior length a surprising 7.9 inches longer.
That means the GT is big. By our calculations the GT should be 190.2 inches long while the Sports Wagon is 182.3 inches long. A 5 Series sedan is just 3 inches longer than the GT. But if you want to think wagon utility, Subaru's Outback is 1.1 inches shorter than the 3 Series GT with a cargo area measuring a whopping 34.3 cubic feet of storage.
The Sports Wagon does have one handicap versus the GT: When it goes on sale this spring, the Sports Wagon will only be available as a 328i with xDrive all-wheel drive. The GT will come in either 328i or 335i variants. However BMW says a diesel version of the Sports Wagon is in the cards for later, which might attract yet another group.––Paul Duchene
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