BMW is confident the 3 Series Touring will rapidly gain ground on its main rivals, Audi's A4 Avant and Mercedes-Benz C-class estate, which have consistently outperformed the estate.
Audi's A4 Avant takes more than 6% of the segment, against the BMW's 3%. In the past two years, the Mercedes-Benz C-Class estate has also outsold the Touring with a 4% share.
Kevin Gaskell, BMW GB managing director, explained the lacklustre performance on “a lack of focus and the lack of a small diesel Touring model”.
He added: “We have ground to make up on some of our competitors and the new Touring gives us the tool we need to take a step forward.” The Touring is available only in Special Equipment (SE) trim.
The 318i (£22,095), 320d (£23,545) and 328i (£28,995) were available from launch, with a £27,895 3-litre diesel 330d to be added in spring.
“Both the coupe and convertible models are segment leaders, the saloon outsells its principal opposition by 2 to 1 so in the Touring sector we have a real opportunity,” said Mr Gaskell.
Richard Webb, BMW GB product manager for the 3 Series, predicts sales of 4,500 Tourings in 2000 up from 1,750 this year and 3,106 in 1998.