BMW will expand its line-up of M performance cars with the first ever M3 Touring, and the first test prototypes of the hot estate have begun on-road development ahead of a likely launch in 2022.

A short clip posted to BMW M’s official Instagram feed (below) shows a road-registered M3 Touring prototype leaving the performance division’s Munich headquarters. It’s wearing a full camouflage wrap, but we can see that it will bear a strong resemblance to the standard 3 Series Touring – albeit marked out by flared arches, added air intakes and a sports exhaust system.

It will also gain the vertically oriented front grille that made its debut on the new 4 Series coupé, rather than the standard car’s more familiar, horizontally aligned grille.

The new M3 Touring will give BMW a direct rival for the long-established Audi RS4 Avant for the first time. In a release, the firm described the hot version of the 3 Series Touring as a “dream come true” that will add to the “unparalleled model diversity” of its expanded M range.

The M3 Touring will sit alongside the new M3 super-saloon and M4 Coupé, both of which are set to be unveiled in September, and next year’s M4 Convertible.

Autocar reported in 2018 that an M3 Touring was being strongly considered by BMW. The firm confirmed the model shortly before it began development work at its Garching facility near Munich. Track tests on the Nürburgring Nordschleife are set to follow. 

BMW has yet to reveal many technical details of the M3 estate but has confirmed it will use its turbocharged six-cylinder petrol M engine. The M3 Touring is expecred to share its mechanicals and powertrain with the new M3 saloon and M4, in which the S58 twin-turbocharged 3.0-litre in-line engine is set to deliver 473bhp and 443lb ft in standard form.

BMW said that “further speculation on engine and performance is quite welcome” and confirmed that the machine will offer the M division’s signature wide axles, large front air intakes and quad exhaust pipes.

The estate will, according to BMW, also offer the full space and capacity of the regular 3 Series Touring. It added that it will fulfil “the hopes of all those who wish to take the M-specific interplay of racing-orientated performance and everyday suitability to the extreme”.