Americans call it a station wagon, Germans a Touring, the British an estate car: It’s like a sedan combined with an SUV. It’s a car, but oh, so much more.
With the latest-generation 3 Series, BMW had officially killed off their last wagon for the U.S. market, because people are buying X-vehicles at a significantly higher rate than they’re buying wagons.
But for me, nothing replaces the humble estate.
I believe there are two types of cars: those that you enjoy driving and those you can actually do stuff with. It’s an either-or, not a both type of situation. An X3 is not great around a track and it’s tough driving an M3 on a sandy beach. The wagon, however, can bridge that gap.
While I was in college, I owned an E46 wagon. This was honestly a dream car at the time, a manual transmission coupled with rear-wheel drive, and the M Sport package: the works. My ownership truly confirmed my love for the estate car, making me a wagon enthusiast. I’ve spent time behind the wheel of the E91, F31, and other generations of BMW wagon, and one thing always shines through: lifestyle balance.
This sporty-lifestyle-car segment has become increasingly more in demand across the U.S. market, mostly filled by crossovers and big SUVs that make up for their mass with clever suspension tuning and swaths of power. However, it’s easy to notice that wagons still play a vital role here in the Northeast. I find it hard to drive around the Boston area without seeing Mercedes E-Class wagons, Audi Allroads, or even their AMG and RS wagon equivalents.
For New Englanders, wagons are a perfect lifestyle tool for families with petrol-head roots, a car perfect for an early-morning commute or a spirited drive on quiet weekend back roads, all while having plenty of room for skis, kids, and the family pet. Did I mention that wagons generally look badass, too? They are a perfect cocktail of power, weight, and balance.
This sentiment is shared around the enthusiast community. Doug DeMuro’s “Cars and Bids” has become the go-to place for cool enthusiast wagons. While it’s a hot market for gearheads, I find it a shame that the average consumer leans more toward crossovers than ever before. Is it because of the ground clearance? Is it because of the higher seating position? It’s tough to say with certainty.
The further we move into the EV/crossover world, the more thankful I am to have owned a car like my E46 wagon, driving practicality at its most basic.
However, manufacturers have to change with the times and sell what sells, which is why we’re in Crossover Land to begin with. BMW’s introduction of the X5 in 1999 was a response to the emergence of the new market as well as a reaction to the decline in wagon sales. Now, with spirited Tourings rising in popularity, seems that BMW has noticed the success of their German rivals: Along with the confirmation of BMW’s next G99 Fiver generation, the company has confirmed that an M5 Touring will be landing on U.S. shores by 2025. This is the news all of us wagon-nuts were hoping for: the return of the BMW performance estate. I for one cannot wait to have a go.—Tucker Beatty