IS there a better all-round estate car than the BMW 3 Series Touring? I can’t think of one.

If I needed more luggage space, I might be tempted to opt for the Skoda Superb Estate, or the BMW 5 Series Touring, and I will always have a soft spot for Audi’s uber-fast RS4 and most comfortable Volvo V60, but the BMW 3 Series Touring remains my estate car of choice.

Pair it with the excellent 2.0-litre twin turbocharged diesel engine in the 320d version and you have a car that delivers on virtually all fronts.

What’s more, it now has a sleeker design, more interior space and improved practicality.

And if you thought its handling was good before, then you will appreciate the improved chassis and drop in weight.

There’s even a plug-in hybrid version on the way for summer, but for now the 320d is surely the one to pick.

It is 32 years since the 3 Series Touring debuted, and in that time more than 1.7 million have been sold. As it developed, so it got better and better until this new version’s immediate predecessor notched up 500,000 sales.

OK, it’s expensive at £35,505 for the entry-price version, but you get a lot more than driving dynamics and boot space for your bucks.

This new one has a more refined interior and oozes premium quality. It also has as standard BMW’s dial-controlled iDrive infortainment system and a very long list of equipment to make your journey that much safer and enjoyable.

Bigger than its predecessor - it has grown by 76mm to 4,709mm in length, by 16mm to 1,827mm in width and by 11mm to 1,440mm in height - the wheelbase has also been extended by 41mm to 2,851mm.

The exterior highlights include a large kidney grille, an extended roofline, slim twin LED headlights and U-shaped daytime driving lights.

Three trim levels are available: SE, Sport and M Sport.

The M Sport model tested here comes with leather sports seats that set the tone for the superb driving qualities marked out by the car’s ability to glide or show off its sharp handling.

It is more enjoyable in the back, too, where passengers get an extra 11mm of legroom. Lower those seats and you will get a whopping 1,500 litres of space to fill, and even with the seats up there is 500 litres capacity in the now wider boot. Automatic tailgate operation is once again included as standard and how far up the tailgate opens can be adjusted via the iDrive menu.

Interior ambient lighting is standard too, while a so-called welcome light carpet illuminates the approach to the doors when they are unlocked or when a door is opened.

Also as standard are a rain sensor, automatic headlight activation, a hands-free phone system and automatic three-zone climate control which features independent temperature and ventilation settings for the driver, front passenger and the rear passenger compartment.

The 3 Series Touring uses a range of petrol and diesel engines with either four or six cylinders. The BMW 320d Touring and BMW 318d Touring models are mated to a six-speed manual gearbox as standard, with the eight-speed Steptronic transmission available as an option. The intelligent all-wheel-drive system is standard on the range-topping BMW M340i xDrive Touring and available as an option on the 330d xDrive and 320d xDrive models.

The xDrive system splits drive torque between the front and rear wheels. The fully variable power transfer ensures maximum traction in all road and weather conditions.

The superb driving characteristics are the result of a fusion of advances in chassis technology along with weight minimisation, a low centre of gravity, a 50/50 weight distribution, a long wheelbase, wider tracks and of course that excellent diesel engine.

Look no further for the best of estate cars.