The BMW 3 Series has been setting benchmarks for years as an engaging rear wheel drive, medium-sized saloon but what happens when you take that, stretch it a bit, turn it into a hatchback and give it an, ahem, larger bottom? Well the result is actually a very appealing car indeed. The BMW 3 Series Gran Turismo (GT) joins the saloon and Touring (estate) in the 3 Series family and it’s for buyers looking for more comfort and space from their 3 Series.
The 3 Series GT sits taller in the metal than the saloon and estate, and it’s also a bit longer than both. Four doors with frameless windows nod to something more exclusive, while an aerodynamic spoiler that lifts automatically at high speeds makes that large rear look that bit more sporty and dynamic. An electric tailgate comes as standard and opens to reveal a large 520 litre boot, which is actually 25 litres bigger than that in the Touring model.
BMW has given the 3 Series GT a longer wheelbase so there is more interior space than in the saloon and estate. Rear seating is limo-like with 70mm of additional legroom, while an increased ride height makes entry easier and gives a slightly raised seating position. The cabin quality is excellent with a fine mix of materials. Infotainment is provided via a high-resolution colour screen with iDrive Controller. Standard equipment includes automatic climate control, keyless engine ignition, LED headlights for dipped and high beam, and LED front fog lamps.
There are a range of petrol and diesel engines available for the 3 Series GT, as well as manual and automatic gearboxes, and the option of four wheel drive on some models. The entry diesel is the 318d with 143hp, while my test car was the popular 320d with 188hp. Motor tax for the 320d is €200 per year, and the claimed economy is 61.4mpg, though during my test drive I got around 47mpg without trying too hard.
The 2.0-litre diesel of the 320d feels at home in the 3 Series GT with responsive power and 400Nm of torque bringing it to 100kmh in 7.7 seconds. It makes for a powerful, refined driving experience and the 3 Series GT is comfortable always. The 3 Series may carry a little extra weight but there is still a beautiful dynamism to this car that belies its bulk. There is some lean in corners at speed but with Sport mode selected things firm up. The steering is the right weight when you want it, and is so, so precise. A 3 Series saloon feels lighter and a bit more athletic, but this 3 Series GT is still a great drive.
The 3 Series GT starts at €46,730 and does carry a premium over the saloon (from €36,570) and the Touring (from €38,940). But the larger dimensions and air of exclusivity about the GT do go some way to justify this and it’s keenly priced against the Audi A5 Sportback, a key rival. Things do begin to get more expensive as you move up the trim levels (SE, Sport, Luxury, M Sport), add the 8-speed automatic gearbox and any other of a number of options. The model on test was a 320d M Sport with 8-speed automatic gearbox and comes in at €53,438 before you hit the options list.
Still the BMW 3 Series Gran Turismo certainly makes a statement and has its own distinctive character and niche within the 3 Series range. For this car to be worth the premium, you really would need to be making good use of that extra space in the rear and the boot, and bear in mind that a 5 Series is also within reach at this price range. But the 3 Series GT is a unique enough proposition to draw some fans.
Model tested: BMW 320d M Sport Gran Turismo
Price: €53,438 (as tested €63,016)
Engine: 2.0-litre turbo diesel
0-100km/h: 7.7 seconds
CO2 emissions: 120g/km
Motor tax: €200 per year