WHILE SUVs seem to be the go-to models of choice for the masses these days, there's no doubting the appeal of the good old traditional estate car too.
And if you need further convincing, then simply check out the new BMW 3 Series Touring model with its fresh design, improved handling ability, upgraded engines and the very latest infotainment and connectivity features.
The five-door estate model also has all the practicality bases covered with a boot capacity that ranges from 500 to 1,500 litres, plus an array of storage compartments scattered throughout the car.
We drove the 320d xDrive Touring model powered by a 2.0-litre diesel engine delivering 190bhp and 400Nm of torque.
This model, in M Sport guise, could sprint to 62mph from a standing start in 7.4 seconds and onto a top speed of 140mph, while delivering 49.6-51.4mpg (WLTP) with carbon emissions of 124g/km based on NEDC figures.
The new 3 Series Touring has had quite a growth spurt - it's longer, wider and taller, but perhaps the biggest news dimensions-wise, is the increase in wheelbase which results in a larger boot and extra space for all occupants.
Despite its load lugging capabilities, this car does carry the BMW 3 Series badging and that means it needs to be able to live up to the legendary performance status associated with the name. And it does just that.
The powerful engine is mated to the latest generation eight-speed Steptronic automatic gearbox, which is ultra-smooth with sharp acceleration and instant bursts of pace at your disposal to make light work of overtaking.
There are steering wheel-mounted paddles for added fun and different driving modes called Eco Pro, Comfort and Sport alter the way the car reacts and responds.
The road holding is exceptionally good and the car is perfectly balanced as it fires through the country lanes. Body sway is non-existent and despite the ride being a tad firm at times, the suspension system does a worthy job of smoothing out any bumps and dips along the way.
It's a car that can effortlessly eat up motorway miles and then prove its agility when weaving through busy town centres with a park assist system to make squeezing into a tight bay much simpler.
There is ample space in the back for three adults to sit comfortably with all occupants enjoying extra leg, shoulder and head room thanks to the increased size of the cabin.
And when it comes to on-board technology, the car is packed to bursting with all the very latest kit.
Creature comforts include a pitch perfect Harman Kardon sound system, full smartphone connectivity, head-up display, powered heated seats, a navigation system, wireless charging, Bluetooth, a heated steering wheel and an automatic tailgate.
There is also gesture control that allows you to use hand movements to adjust the volume on the sound system as well as answer or dismiss phone calls. It takes a little getting used to but is a clever feature.
The M Sport model boasts the BMW Live Cockpit Professional set-up which adds a larger high-resolution 12.3-inch instrument cluster behind the steering wheel and a bigger 10.25-inch touchscreen too. And special mention to the completely separate climate control switches which mean the temperature can be adjusted quickly and simply on the move without having to navigate a touchscreen menu.
The car has a very premium feel to it with the finest leather upholstery, along with soft-touch surfaces, ambient lighting and neat decorative inlays.
And as you would expect, it comes packed with the same extensive safety features and driver assistance aids that helped the 3 Series saloon model achieve a maximum five stars when it was tested for its Euro NCAP safety rating.