Ranking the 5 Best BMW Wagons of All Time

Ranking the 5 Best BMW Wagons of All Time

The station wagon was once referred to as depot hackney, as in the vehicle used to carry passengers and their luggage to and from train stations. Most often derived from a sedan, the station wagon is known under a variety of terms outside of the United States, including estate in the United Kingdom and kombi in Germany.
Defined by a longer roofline and wheelbase than the counterpart sedan, the station wagon of old featured body-on-frame construction. The longroofs on sale today come exclusively as unibodies, and the same applies to every single wagon ever produced by BMW.

The Munich-based automaker started making estates in the 1980s due to Max Reisbock. Then employed as an engineer at BMW, this kind gentleman wanted a more family-oriented 3 Series with handling characteristics as close as possible to the E30-generation sedan.

Reisbock modified a 323i over the course of six months in a friend’s garage on a relatively low budget. Execs caught wind of the precursor to the 3 Series Touring because Max used to drive it to work. They loved it so much that the suits in Munich approved the more practical body style for series production with minimal changes from the home-brew car. The resulting model opens our list of the best 5 BMW wagons of all time.

E30 BMW 325iX Touring

Introduced with much pomp and circumstance in 1982, the second-generation 3 Series received a minor update in 1985. That’s when the 325i Allrad – later known as the 325iX – was launched with a full-time AWD system designed to split the torque 37 percent fore and 63 aft.

The 325iX Touring ran between 1988 and 1993 in relatively few numbers, which makes it quite a desirable classic as long as you can find a very fine example of the breed. In addition to rust issues from wintery driving conditions, remember that wagons usually live harder lives than sedans because of their superior practicality.

Unashamedly boxy outside and reassuringly simple on the inside, the 325iX Touring uses the 2.5-liter M20 straight-six engine. It produces a stout 168 horsepower and 164 pound-feet (222 Nm) of torque at 4,300 revolutions per minute. BMW finished a grand total of 5,273 units as per the automaker’s production records.

E34 BMW M5 Touring

The E34-generation M5 Touring is the first BMW M car to feature a hatchback. Assembled to a great extent by hand in Garching between 1992 and 1995 to the tune of 891 specimens, the first longroof developed by the mad professors at M was available in left-hand drive only.

The final M car to be made in Garching is pretty slow by modern standards, which is understandable given that 1992 was more than three decades ago. Zero to 100 kilometers per hour (make that 62 miles per hour) takes 5.9 seconds, and top speed is electronically limited to 250 kilometers per hour (around 155 miles per hour).

Under the hood, the second-gen M5 hides a naturally-aspirated sixer from an esteemed lineage. The S38 is derived from the M88/3 of the first-gen M5, itself a variation of the M88 introduced by the M1. With 335 ponies and 295 pound-feet (400 Nm) at its disposal, the free-breathing mill powering the corner-carving M5 Touring was a bonafide firecracker back during its day.

G21 BMW M340i xDrive Touring

If you need extra space for your beloved canine buddy on weekend getaways to the ski resort, and crossovers just don’t float your boat for whatever reason, the G21 is an easy pick. Not only does it drive better than equivalent sport utility vehicles – primarily due to the lower center of gravity – but the M340i xDrive Touring is an excellent daily driver in every imaginable respect.

Slotted right between the plebeian-spec 3er and M3, the M340i rocks a 3.0-liter turbocharged inline-six lump with immense tuning potential. The B58 is hugely impressive in stock form as well, for it belts out 382 horsepower and 369 pound-feet (500 Nm) of torque. It also serves as the basis for the M-specific S58 engine.

Back home in Germany, the auto-only M340i xDrive Touring is listed by the build & price tool at 74,900 euros or 81,420 dollars at current exchange rates. Despite being a little on the expensive side of compact executive wagons, the sweetest spot in the 3er’s range doesn’t get heated front seats as standard. This feature is bundled in the €1,050 Comfort Package, which includes lumbar support for the driver and Comfort Access keyless entry.

E61 BMW M5 Touring

Who could say no to a mid-size wagon powered by a naturally-aspirated V10? The E61 BMW M5 Touring is a rare breed as well because only 1,009 were produced between 2007 and 2010. There’s a small problem with it, though, said issue being the jerky automated manual.

BMW eventually replaced it with a dual-clutch gearbox, with said transmission ultimately replaced by the 8HP torque-converter automatic in CLAR-based vehicles like the current-generation M5 and the upcoming G90/G99. North America may not have received the E61 BMW M5 Touring, but do bear in mind that North American customers were offered a manual tranny in the sedan.

The first and only series-production V10 engine from the Munich-based automaker wouldn’t have been possible without BMW’s involvement in Formula 1. Not related to any other BMW engine at that time, the S85 was used as inspiration for the high-revving V8 in the E90 M3.

G81 BMW M3 Touring

Does anyone care the M3 Touring is the fastest wagon to ever lap the German racing circuit where Niki Lauda had experienced a horrendous crash in 1976? There certainly are peeps out there who like to brag about this kind of stuff, but they’re missing the point of the G81.

Blurring the line between sensible and utterly mad, the first-ever M3 to be offered in the guise of a wagon combines supercar-rivaling performance in a family- and pet-friendly package. It’s also way more special than the X3 M Competition, and its M xDrive all-wheel-drive system is gifted with a rear-wheel-drive mode for whenever you want to wag the tail out in the twisties.

Similar to the E61 from earlier, the G81 sadly isn’t coming stateside because wagons and enthusiast cars are poor sellers by default. Exclusively offered in Competition attire, the M3 Touring costs in excess of 100,000 euros in Germany. At press time, prospective customers need to shell out €101,300 (circa $109,870). 

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