In a sector that is dominated by diesel power - more than 50% of all Audi A4 Avants sold are powered by the 1.9-litre turbodiesel engine - the advent of the 2.0-litre and 3.0-litre direct-injection turbo diesels in to the Touring will provide BMW with its missing link and thus should boost sales to about the 4,500 mark - a 70% increase on the average annual rate for its predecessor. Kevin Gaskell, managing director at BMW (GB) Ltd, agrees: 'Due to a lack of focus and the lack of a small diesel Touring model we have ground to make up on some of our competitors and the new Touring gives us the tool we need to step forward.'
Although practicality has never been high on the Touring's list of credentials, the latest model copies some of the features first seen on the 5-series Touring to improve matters: split-level tailgate, minimal wheel arch intrusion and light clusters for an uncluttered opening, split-fold rear seats and a folding centre armrest with space for cupholders and CDs - plus extra luggage space at 1,345 litres.
Currently, the 2.8 with double-VANOS variable valve timing is the muscle-bound model clocking 0-62mph in 7.3secs and a top speed of 147mph. That is until the 330d Touring arrives: 288lb-ft of torque and 184bhp is also good enough for a sub-eight second 0-62mph time and plus-40mpg.