From the September 2023 issue of Car and Driver.
Cocktail and rumaki-loaded plate in hand, I return to my wife’s side just in time to hear her version of recent events: We got married, and I instantly became Clark Griswold. I enter the conversation just before half of our group, BMW race-car driver Bruno Spengler and his wife, share their station-wagon story.
Let’s start with my version: Less than 24 hours after saying “I do,” we were on a 767 to Munich. A Frozen Pure Grey M3 Competition Touring awaited our arrival. Touring is BMW-speak for wagon, and the M3 is the bossiest of Boss Wagons. To my wife, who grew up riding in and then driving a gray Volvo 740 wagon, a station wagon didn’t sound like an exciting vehicle for a honeymoon trek over the Alps and to the Italian Riviera.
Boss Wagons are a C/D thing. Since 1966, we’ve transformed grocery getters into pink-slip betters—a turbo-diesel Benz, a 383 Plymouth, a Volvo. BMW did the heavy lifting on the M3 Touring, no assembly required.
Back to her: She pulls out her phone and swipes through beach shots in Camogli, smiling selfies, and dog pics until she lands on it. She hands the phone to Bruno’s wife, and from over her shoulder Bruno shrieks, “The M3 Touring! I have that exact car! Frozen Grey!” My beloved has lost the room.
Bad news: If you live in North America, you can’t buy one. BMW of North America could’ve imported the current-gen 3-series wagon but passed due to insufficient interest. That means no M3 wagon for us.
Back to her: What’s the deal with Europeans? Barreling down the autostrada, idling in front of our hotel, or stopping for gas, coffee, or red lights, the wagon drew constant admiration and approval. Bruno again: “It’s an M3!”
I don’t blame the lookie-loos. There’s never been an M3 wagon before, and laying eyes on its fender-flared body for the first time prompts a closer look. She is right, though—the attention is unexpected. But I think I understand it. The interest says: I’m in the know on this whole performance-wagon thing. I see the world the same way you do. I too enjoy oxymorons. I get jokes.
The Spenglers share their story: Bruno surprised Mrs. Spengler with the wagon. She wasn’t immediately wowed by it, but then incredulousness gave way to admiration. “Now she wants to drive it all the time,” adds Bruno.
We sailed back to Munich through heavily enforced Switzerland. Eventually, Germany welcomed back one of its own. The M3 reciprocated by displaying the autobahn’s unlimited zones in the instrument cluster, even counting down to the unrestricted sections: 500 meters, 300, 100, go! And the nose makes sense to me now—just ugly enough to scare traffic out of the left lane when you’re closing in at 165 mph.
Although America lost out on the M3 Touring, BMW is deciding whether to import the upcoming M5 Touring. If you’re interested, tell your BMW dealer you want a Boss Wagon.
Tony Quiroga is an 18-year-veteran Car and Driver editor, writer, and car reviewer and the 19th editor-in-chief for the magazine since its founding in 1955. He has subscribed to Car and Driver since age six. “Growing up, I read every issue of Car and Driver cover to cover, sometimes three or more times. It’s the place I wanted to work since I could read,” Quiroga says. He moved from Automobile Magazine to an associate editor position at Car and Driver in 2004. Over the years, he has held nearly every editorial position in print and digital, edited several special issues, and also helped produce C/D’s early YouTube efforts. He is also the longest-tenured test driver for Lightning Lap, having lapped Virginia International Raceway’s Grand Course more than 2000 times over 12 years.