Long before sedans were taking the brunt of the sales pain brought on due to the rise of SUVs and crossovers, station wagons were feeling the sting. Once the iconic family vehicle of America, long two-box cars faded from popularity in the latter years of the last century, replaced first by minivans, then by sport-utility vehicles.
But what goes around comes around, as they say. These days, station wagons are finding a new niche as enthusiast vehicles in the United States…and at least some people who work for one carmaker long noted for building driver’s cars feel a little left out.
“There is a place for a luxury wagon with great BMW performance in the U.S. market,” Patrick Womack, BMW national dealer forum chairman, told Automotive News. “The Europeans get to enjoy that great product, and we need to compete with Audi and other brands that are in our marketplace.”
Audi, of course, is bringing the 591-horsepower RS6 Avant to the U.S. for the first time this year. Mercedes-Benz has long found a small-but-profitable niche with its E-Class AMG wagons, currently represented by the 603-hp Mercedes-AMG E63 we know and love. And with the current generation of Panamera, Porsche has become a Bavarian vendor of station wagons as well, offering Panameras from the basic models all the way up to the 670-hp hybrid V8-powered Turbo S E-Hybrid variant in Sport Turismo form.
What wagon BMW might use to battle its German brethren remains up for debate. The above vehicles practically cry out for a two-box M5 to battle them, but BMW doesn’t make such a car. The closest thing the company offers is the M550d seen above — largely similar to the 523-hp M550i sedan sold here, but instead using a quad-turbo diesel inline-six that makes 394 hp and 561 lb-ft of torque. The Alpina division — think of it as the grand touring version of the M department — also makes a B5 Touring, which spits out 608 horsepower and 590 lb-ft; given America’s displeasure for diesels, that might be the best choice to fight the RS6 and its ilk.
Of course, BMW also sold the 3 Series in station wagon form here until just last year, so bringing that back might not be quite as big a cognitive leap for the head honchos in Munich. Regardless of what form it takes, though, we just hope BMW’s top brass hear Womack’s cry and decide to ship a station wagon our way. We’ll take every sporty low-riding two-box we can get.
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