Travel to Europe in the summer and you'll be met by an army of sport wagons heading for the Mediterranean coast.
Full of children and family detritus, they are the default choice of Europe's upwardly mobile families, while sedans are reserved for the longer of tooth.
That's why, in the Old World, the 2013 BMW 3 Series Sports Wagon is as much a sure-fire hit as the next iPhone. It's everything Europeans look for in a family vehicle.
In the U.S., though, the situation remains puzzlingly different. Wagons, even the sporty kind, have taken a backseat to crossovers and SUVs. In fact, with annual sales of its wagons flatlining at around 15,000 cars per year, there were rumors that BMW wasn't going to even bother importing the new 3 Series wagon.
Thankfully the rumors weren't true, but the introduction of just a single engine variant — the 328i — smacks of a half-hearted effort..
From the driver seat, only the scene through the rearview mirror will identify the Sports Wagon as something different from the 3 Series sedan. The multi-adjustable driving position and beautifully executed fascia are all present and correct. The view down the hood is also as common as the driving experience. The wagon, like the sedan, continues to tread an enviable line between sport sedan and business tool.
For all the thoroughness of its execution, BMW admits that it has modest aspirations for this car in the U.S. For now at least, there will be no 335i wagon and don't even ask about the brilliant diesel version that's offered in Europe. Instead, they reckon the 328i will continue to serve traditional wagon buyers without seeking out new conquests.
For us, this remains one of the great mysteries of the American automotive landscape. The Sports Wagon is a 3 Series sedan that costs only a little more, drives just as well, is arguably better-looking and comes with enough space to serve an average-size family. What's the catch?
Other than its lack of an elevated seated position, there isn't one.