No Next-Gen 3 Series Wagon For U.S.

BMW wagon availability in the U.S. is set to end with the outgoing F31 long-roof 3 Series, as the automaker has confirmed to CarBuzz earlier this month. According to an unnamed BMW spokesperson, the current 3 Series wagon will soldier on for one additional model year—2019—and be sold alongside the new seventh-generation 3 Series when it hits showrooms next spring.

For those keeping track, BMW has sold wagons—or Touring models, as they market them—in the U.S. since the late 1980s, starting with the E34 5 Series. Mid-size Touring availability came to an end in 2010 with the introduction of the F10, of which no wagon version was sold here, while the venerable Three has been available as a wagon since the late 1990s in the form of the E46 wagon.

BMW is said to have no plans to bring a touring version of the G20, or G21 as it would be called, to the U.S., although a new 3 Series wagon is most certainly coming for the rest of the world. Camouflaged test mules have been spied repeatedly, and are beginning to shed their obscuring vinyl wrap and cladding ahead of an official reveal. Speculation has the automaker attributing the move to U.S. sales, which have always been rather slow as far as wagons are concerned, although many diehard BMW aficionados instead blame model choices that have always being rather limited, and expensive, as the root cause.

The shift away from traditional station wagons comes as no surprise, during a time when BMW and others are pursuing an unrelenting offensive in the crossover and SUV segments. That doesn’t stop us from being disappointed, though. The current F31 Touring is an excellent vehicle in any of the rather restricted forms in which it is available here, and judging by the number available in the pre-owned market at any given moment, seems to have sold reasonably well since its introduction several model years ago. Nonetheless, the numbers still pale in comparison with those of the X1 and X3; at the time of this writing, there are over 2,200 of the former and nearly 2,500 of the latter for sale on CPO.BMWUSA.com, as opposed to just 220 3 Series sport wagons.

Limiting the F31 drivetrain choice to automatic with xDrive in the U.S. and not offering a manual transmission are two factors commonly blamed for the relative rarity of modern BMW wagons here, but the truth is, neither one of those things really do anything to make a model that is already viewed as less attractive and practical than the competing X3 less desirable than it already is to the general public. Enthusiasts may object until the end of time—their complaints are valid as far as handling, performance, fuel economy, and a number of other important metrics and characteristics are concerned—but in the end, the car-buying public has its sights set solely on a crossover future.

Besides, previous generations of the 3 Series Touring were available with manual transmissions and rear-wheel drive, but they still sold poorly in comparison with their sedan and convertible stablemates—not to mention the fact that the U.S. has always been denied the larger engine when it came to wagons. The F31 is only sold here in four-cylinder form, and is now exclusively sold as the 330i xDrive. Those with a good memory will recall the incredibly rare E39 540i wagon, which was sold here as well, but individuals keen on the model are also familiar with the fact that it was only available in automatic form.

The final nail in the coffin is cost. Bundling wagons together with xDrive and certain other trim levels and features tended to result in a build price far north of the comparable X3, which is now flanked by too many other variations to name.

None of that stops us from keeping a flame of optimism lit, however. BMW is of course readying a new 3 Series wagon for everyone else, which means that the model does indeed exist. In a perfect world, where certification costs are justifiable, seeing them sold here wouldn’t be out of the question. Here in the real world, however, those who consider themselves absolutely dead-set on driving a new 3 Series wagon should put in an order for the current F31 before production comes to an end completely in June of 2019.—Alex Tock

[Photos via Auto Express, Auto Gespot.]

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