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BMW's new 5 Series Touring is lighter, more high-tech, and still a forbidden fruit

Why it matters to you

BMW won't follow rivals Mercedes-Benz and Volvo into the mid-size wagon segment.

BMW has introduced the station wagon variant of the new 5 Series. Named Touring, the long-roof was developed specifically for the European market.

The Touring is all but identical to the 5 Series sedan from the tip of the front bumper to the B-pillar. Beyond that, it gets a gently sloping roof line that peaks right above the driver and flows into a large hatch made out of aluminum in order to keep weight in check. Other weight-saving measures — such as aluminum suspension components — make the Touring up to 220 pounds lighter than the outgoing model, according to BMW.

Engineers designed the 5 Series Touring as an exercise in versatility. The tailgate opens separately from the hatch, and the 40/20/40-split rear seats fold down at the simple push of a button located in the cargo compartment. A self-leveling rear suspension helps BMW’s newest wagon haul up to 1,600 pounds when it’s properly configured.

Like the 5 Series sedan, the Touring is loaded with tech features. Notably, the list of options includes a gesture-controlled infotainment system that debuted in the 7 Series. Passengers who don’t like the idea of waving at a screen can navigate the menus with voice commands, the iDrive controller found on the center console, or by simply touching the 10.2-inch screen. Buyers can also order the Touring with a configurable digital instrument cluster.

At launch, the Euro-spec lineup will consist of two gasoline-powered models named 530i and 540i xDrive, respectively, and two diesel-burning variants called 520d and 530d. The 530i is powered by a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine that produces 252 horsepower, while the 540i gets a 340-horsepower, 3.0-liter straight-six. Both models come with an eight-speed automatic transmission.

The 520d gets a 2.0-liter four-cylinder rated at 190 horsepower. Finally, the 530d relies on a 3.0-liter straight-six that generates 265 horsepower and a generous 457 pound-feet of torque. The 520 comes standard with a six-speed manual transmission, while the 530 is exclusively offered with an eight-speed automatic.

The 530i, 520d, and 530d all come standard with rear-wheel drive. The 540i benefits from BMW’s xDrive all-wheel drive system, and 530d buyers can order the winter-beating drivetrain at an extra cost. BMW promises that additional models — including a fuel-sipping plug-in hybrid variant — will join the lineup later in the production run.

The 2017 BMW 5 Series Touring will go on sale shortly after it debuts at the Geneva Auto Show. There’s a catch, though. BMW stresses its newest Touring was designed for European buyers, and it most likely won’t be sold in the United States.