The first-ever BMW M3 Touring has made its long-awaited world debut at the Goodwood Festival of Speed, combining supercar levels of straight-line pace with the familiar comfort and utility of the 3 Series.
Arriving as part of the ongoing celebrations for M division's 50th anniversary, it is the latest addition to the M3/M4 family and follows hot on the heels of the strippedout, track-focused BMW M4 CSL revealed last month.
This is the first time that BMW has applied the full-fat M treatment to the 3 Series estate in seven generations - although it did build a one-off Touring version of the E46-gen M3 in 2000 (but kept it under wraps until 2016).
The new arrival will go on sale in September, ahead of production beginning in November. It will be available exclusively in range-topping Competition xDrive form, taking 503bhp and 479lb ft from BMW M's S58 3.0-litre twin-turbocharged straight six and sending it through an eight-speed automatic gearbox and Active M differential to both axles.
That makes for a 0-62mph time of just 3.6sec and a top speed of up to 174mph with the optional M Driver's package - figures that just surpass the outgoing Mercedes-AMG C63 S estate and are sure to make the M3 Touring a fierce rival for that car's plug-in hybrid replacement, which is due in 2023 (although not yet confirmed as an estate).
It is also only slightly slower off the mark than the four-wheel-drive M3 Competition Saloon, despite the added weight of its extended bodywork, which, says BMW, endows the Touring with "variability and generosity in terms of transport capacities for eventful everyday mobility and fast-paced travel activities".
In addition, because it has nearly 50:50 weight distribution and a suspension and steering set-up that has been lightly fettled to account for the new body, BMW says it offers "the combination of agility, dynamics and precision in handling that is characteristic of BMW M automobiles".
Aside from the extended roofline and upright rear end, the M3 Touring is nearly identical to the saloon. It swaps the standard 3 Series' wide snouts for the M car's larger vertical items, and adds chunky flared wheel arches, bespoke bumpers and side skirts, a beefy quad-exit sports exhaust, 19in front and 20in rear M Sport wheels, and a bespoke rear spoiler.
Inside, it's a closer match for the standard, recently updated 3 Series Touring, with a familiar cabin set-up dominated by a new 14.9in infotainment screen running BMW's latest, eighth-generation iDrive operating system, and a 12.3in digital gauge cluster. As with the M3 Saloon, subtle nods to its performance billing - red driving mode selectors on the steering wheel and M-themed upholstery - can be bumped up with the addition of carbonfibre trim elements and full-carbon bucket front seats. Prices for the M3 Touring start at £80,550, which makes it roughly the same price as the saloon, and it is available with the same choice of colour and trim combinations.
It will be among the final non-electrified additions to the full-bore M car line-up, alongside the upcoming BMW M2 Coupé (which uses a variation of the same powertrain) that will be revealed later this year. The brand's first PHEV, the BMW XM super-SUV, also lands later this year, and the next-generation BMW M5 is widely tipped to use that car's hybridised twin-turbocharged 4.4-litre V8.