What is it? The iconic GT name was coined in the 1930s to describe European cars designed to cosset their occupants in opulent luxury. Capturing this spirit the 3 series Grand Tourer, or Gran Tourismo as they say in Italy, promises to be just what the name suggests, a car for Grand Touring.
Who is it aimed at? Keen drivers looking for the practicality and space of an estate but with the driving dynamics of a saloon will welcome the addition of this BMW to the range .
Styling? In a bid to be all things to all people the styling of the GT is a little awkward. While we love its practical purpose we had hoped for a certain panache from a BMW GT and on first sight we were left wondering what had happened to the 3 series. But despite our misgivings the BMW 3 GT received many favourable comments during our week’s road test.
Under the Bonnet There are three petrol ( 320i, 328i and 335i) and three diesel engines (the 318d , 320d and the 325d) to choose from. Our test car was powered by the entry-level 318 diesel that goes from standstill to 60 in 9.6 seconds and has a top speed of 130 mph.
What about Inside? Slip into the driver’s seat of the 3 series GT and you’ll instantly feel deliciously sophisticated. There is plenty of space, the visibility’s great and the seats are supremely comfortable. The extra height means it’s easy to get in and out of, both front and back, a feature that will particularly appeal to those with young children or elderly parents. The interior while familiar from the 3 series range, is first rate throughout. Boot space is 520 litres with the seats in use but with the seats are folded down there is an enormous 1600 litres available, this is a boot designed for lugging wardrobes!
On the Road? While it is not quite as sharp on the road as the 3 series, there is little to complain about. The suspension is a little softer, as expected for a Gran Tourismo but the trademark sharp steering is evident. While it tends to roll on corners and can feel a little giddy at low speeds on the motorway it is a beautifully comfortable cruiser.
And Safety? Solidly built, there is more than enough safety features and state-of-the-art electronic aids to keep occupants safe and sound.
Options? In addition to the entry level SE there are three additional equipment levels, Sport, Modern and Luxury along with a M Sport package. Standard equipment on the GT is generous and includes 18-inch alloy wheels, 6.5-inch colour screen with iDrive and climate control which is good as the tempting but expensive options list is extensive.
Economy: According to BMW the 318d will return an impressive 58.9 mpg on a combined cycle of motorway and urban driving and our week behind the wheel confirmed similar figures. CO2 emissions are 127 g/km.
Okay so the Verdict? The GT costs more than the equivalent estate version of the 3 series, so is this money well spent? You get a more spacious boot and more legroom for rear passengers. On the downside the raised height means its not as sharp to drive as the saloon. BMW drivers who are willing to trade dynamics for space will love the new GT but for many it will be an answer to a question we are not convinced anyone was asking.
Why you’ll buy one? Practical, Spacious, Comfortable
Why you won’t? Pricey, Dynamics, Styling
Audi A5 Sportback – from £26,425
BMW 3 Series Touring -from £24,865
BMW 318d Luxury Gran Turismo
Engine: 1995cc 16v turbodiesel 4-cyl, 181bhp @ 4000rpm, 320Nm @ 1750-2750rpm
Max speed: 130 mph
0-60 mph: 9.6 seconds
Emissions: 127 g/km
Model price range: £28,835 – £39,735 – (Test car price £31,910)
No of Doors: 5
Euro NCAP: not yet tested
Fuel type: Diesel
Fuel Economy (combined cycle): 58.9mpg
Boot Capacity Seats up(down) : 520 Litres (1600)
Car Seats: 2 Isofix fittings in the rear and simple to use
22nd January, 2014