For the first time, BMW's xDrive will be available on right-hand models.
Officially, BMW says it is as happy as Larry with its line-up of models from 1 to 8. Unofficially, it admits it would move heaven and earth to get a rival for the Audi A4 Avant Quattro, the all-wheel-drive sports wagon that aids traction and helps skiers particularly go further in the search for perfect powder.
Well, it appears the earth might have moved in BMW's favour. Headquarters in Munich has confirmed that its four-paw xDrive system will be available for the first time on right-hand-drive 3 Series models, including the Touring sports wagon.
The first right-hook market to get the xDrive 3 Series will be Britain, in September. The four-wheel-drive system will also be fitted to the BMW 1-Series, although it has not yet been confirmed if right-hand-drive 1-Series models will get it.
The expansion of the 3 Series range begins with the 320i xDrive, through to the 328i and the six-cylinder 335i, all petrol powered. Diesel variants will also pick up xDrive.
The system has not been offered on right-hand-drive BMW cars before, although it was fitted to the RHD 5-Series Touring some years ago.
In recent years it has been engineered only for global left-hand-drive models.
BMW's range of SUVs - X1, X3, X5, X6 - all offer xDrive.
BMW New Zealand communications manager Ed Finn wouldn't discuss the move to xDrive for the 3 Series. "It is our policy not to comment on future product.
"All I will say is that we are looking forward to the arrival of the 3 Series Touring next year."
The next 3 Series Touring has been spotted by spy agency AutoMedia testing in Europe, camouflaged.
The rival for the Audi A4 Avant and Mercedes C-Class wagon is based on the new sedan. Its overall shape is similar to that of the current Touring, with a roofline that drops at the rear. The rear end is set to have a similar look to the BMW 5 Series Touring.
The Touring is larger than its predecessor, but like the sedan it will be lighter and more efficient. There's more interior space, with the angular dash taken from the sedan in what's an evolution of the previous model's design.
As with the 3 Series sedan, the wagon will be available in Sport, Luxury, and Modern lines, as well as an M Sport Line, each with a unique approach to interior and exterior trim.
Amenities include an available power tailgate that, with the optional Comfort Access package, becomes a hands-free power tailgate; you just wave your foot under the bumper.
Engine choices will be the same as the EfficientDynamics sedan range in New Zealand: four-cylinder 2-litre diesel and 2-litre petrol, four-cylinder turbocharged 328i and six-cylinder 335i. All engines will be offered with an eight-speed automatic gearbox.
Speculation is that BMW will further extend the Touring range to include a fully blown xDrive M variant to go head-to-head with the Audi RS4 Avant.By Alastair Sloane Email Alastair