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BMW keen on Touring

Feedback: A 320i Touring model is under evaluation in Australia.

BMW puts the 3 Series Touring through its paces in a push for Down Under release

26 Nov 2001

BMW is looking seriously at adding the 3 Series Touring (wagon) model to its compact prestige/luxury range for the first time.

It currently has a 320i Touring model under evaluation in Australia and has shown the car to its dealer group, reporting positive feedback from its retail arm.

"It's our second one we've had for evaluation. The first one was a UK-spec car and that's been shown to the dealer group and they're very positive, so we're looking to see whether the market will cope," BMW Australia engineering manager Stuart Hartley said.

A decision is still some time off as BMW Australia has to go back to Munich headquarters with possible numbers and pricing before receiving approval from the parent operation.

That process may take up to 12 months as the project goes through the planning stage in Germany and Australian-spec cars are fitted into the production cycle, so a likely arrival date for the car is the last quarter of next year.

At this stage only one model is being looked at, which will bring the 3 Series range in line with 5 Series in having a single wagon variant.

BMW Australia product and market planning manager Ralf Kaiser said: "If I say we're really happy with the 320i we've had so far, then that may give an indication without making any official announcement".

The 320i Touring is a perfect fit to compete head on with Mercedes-Benz, which bolstered its C-class range with an estate version in the middle of this year.

The 320i Touring matches up to the C200K Estate on engine specifications (125kW versus 120kW) and pricing - the Benz comes in three equipment levels between $66,800 and $72,800, while the BMW should cost about $67,000.

In the four months since the C200K Estate arrived it has recorded 91 sales, which is ahead of the company's forecast of 200 units per annum and represents around 5.5 per cent of total C-class numbers.

A 3 Series Touring would seem a better than even chance of making it to our shores as BMW is going to need a player in this segment niche if it hopes to maintain overall luxury market leadership, especially with new rivals arriving all the time.

Rover has just released a 75 Tourer and Renault will introduce a Laguna wagon in February next year, followed in the second quarter by Audi's B6-generation A4 Avant.

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