In a recent interview with Car Magazine, Markus Flasch, head of BMW M, confirmed that the division has no plans to build any touring models. According to Flasch, there are certain countries in which the case for performance sport wagons can clearly be made, but BMW is a global company that must make decisions on a broader scale. Instead, performance SAVs and SACs are said to be the solution, and looking at sales over the past decade, it’s tough to argue the opposite.
It’s nonetheless a disappointing reality for enthusiasts, especially at a time when other German competitors are taking a fresh look at the segment. Here in the epicenter of the U.S. BMW aficionado community, we know that some are at the point of defecting to other brands which offer vehicles that fit their demands, namely Mercedes-AMG and Audi Sport with their respective E63 AMG S Estate and RS6 Avant. Some of these people have been repeat BMW owners for decades, and the thought of jumping ship is almost on the level of sacrilege.
We all understand the reality of BMW building the majority of its SAV and SAC range here in the U.S., and the cost advantages that go with it. The models themselves are excellent as well; the X3 is the most popular BMW model in the entire portfolio in the U.S. right now, and the X7, the largest BMW model ever, seems to be outpacing expectations in terms of demand. Filtering things down to the performance range, including cars like the X5 and X6 M, and more recently the X3 and X4 M, it’s clear that BMW also owns this segment as well, having ushered it in a decade ago with strong sales following. In fact, if you’re in the market for a second hand performance SUV, you’re probably looking at the X5 and X6 M. It’s not that there aren’t viable counterparts from other marks, it’s just that BMW sold more than just about anyone else.
If you happen to live outside the U.S., Alpina will soon have a solution on the form of the 2020 B3 Touring. Based on the M340i which uses a 382-horsepower B58 inline-six, the B3 Touring is said to be scheduled for an official reveal at the Frankfurt Motor Show this month. The previous B3 Touring, based on the F31, had serious power in all trim levels, but followed Alpina tradition in not encroaching on M3 territory by maintaining a distinct level of comfort and luxury and more touring-oriented character. For American enthusiasts though, the G21 B3 Touring is perhaps just another pipe dream, as the only Alpina model scheduled to be available here is the ultra high-end B7.
It doesn’t stop us from fantasizing though. There is no doubt that, however small and focused, a strong market for performance touring models exists here. These people are willing to spend serious money on models from generations ago, some of which were never even offered in such a configuration from the factory. Mercedes-AMG knows it, and it seems Audi is catching on as well. We hope BMW decides it can make the case to itself, and dive in head first.—Alex Tock
[Photos courtesy BMW AG.]