They will sell alongside the new 3-series Saloon in the compact executive sector. Due to the rapid recent growth of estate car sales in this sector the launch of the Touring has leapfrogged the Coupe and Roadster models that in the past have traditionally followed their Saloon counterparts to market.
BMW (UK) Limited said this week that premium compact estate car sales will take around 17% of the sector and demand will continue to grow in 2006. Hatchback sales in the sector are in decline and saloon sales are slowing, but they are expected to account for about 45% of all compact executive models sold, down from 50% in 2001.
Sports activity vehicles also show growth potential in the sector and these could match Touring, or estate car, sales next year. The all-new BMW 3-series Coupe and Roadster variants are now expected to be seen later in 2006.
Two 3-series Touring models will be available at launch, the four-cylinder diesel, 163hp, BMW 320d with ES, SE and M Sport specifications costing from £24,875 to £28,195, and the six-cylinder petrol, 218hp, 325i SE and M Sport priced at £26,905 and £29,435.
In the autumn the range will be extended to include the four-cylinder 320i petrol, and six-cylinder 330i petrol and 330d diesel. The 150hp 320i ES will be priced at £23,040, the 258hp 330i with prices starting at £29,995 and 228hp 330d models priced from £30,560.
BMW expect to sell around 2,500 3-series Touring models in the UK this year and a record 8,500 plus in 2006. The 320d is expected to account for 30% of all sales and once launched, the 320i around 15%. Diesel engined models will take 55% of all 3-series Touring UK sales. Fifty-five per cent of customers will be corporate buyers and 45% retail.
BMW UK customer profile figures also show that the majority of Touring owners are between 36 and 55 years of age with over half younger than 50, and 80% of them are expected to be male.
Around 17% of owners are self-employed while over 60% are company directors or managers. BMW says its key competitors in this sector are the Audi A4 Avant, Mercedes Benz C-Class Estate and the Jaguar X-Type Estate however conquest sales are expected from previous owners of small 4x4s, MPVs and larger saloons.