BMW 3 Series GT review
The BMW 3 Series GT is a more practical version of the 3 Series and rivals the Audi A5 Sportback
The BMW 3 Series GT promises to mix all the practicality of the Touring with all the sporty, fun driving dynamics of the 3 Series saloon. You sit 59mm higher than in the standard 3 Series and rear passengers have an extra 70mm of kneeroom, which puts it on a par with the 5 Series for spaciousness. The 3 GT also has a boot that's 25 litres larger than the Touring with the seats up and a further 100 litres larger with them folded flat. It's a difficult car to pigeonhole, with rivals ranging from the likes of an Audi A5 Sportback to the Mercedes C-Class Estate. The additional practicality has meant the GT takes on a slightly awkward profile, though, and buyers will find themselves having to shell out around £1,300 on average over the Touring.
Our choice: 320d GT SE
The BMW 3 GT - or Gran Turismo - gets bespoke bumpers and lights, and it looks relatively handsome from the front, especially in M Sport trim. The slightly bulbous rear won't be to everyone's taste but BMW has done a far better job of getting the proportions right than it did with the 5 Series Gran Turismo. However, the car is very colour specific. Lighter choices help distract from the car's bulk, but in darker schemes it can seem a little bit ungainly. All models get an Air Curtain vent mounted behind the front wheels for improved air flow, which you won't find on any other 3 Series. There's also an active rear spoiler that pops up at 70mph, while 18-inch alloys are standard even on the entry-level SE model. Inside, the GT is identical to the 3 Series saloon apart from some extra trim on the door panels to match that on the dash. As with other models in the 3 Series range buyers can choose between four different equipment levels SE, Sport, Luxury and M Sport, which each having their own unique styling cues.
BMW has actually set the 3 Series GT up to be a more comfortable car than the standard 3 Series, so you'll find it's not quite as sharp to drive. We've only tried models with the optional £750 adaptive dampers, and these work well to give a very soft ride in Comfort mode. Switch them to Sport and the whole car tightens up, giving you much more confidence in the steering and a little more agility through the bends. The longer body, increased weight and higher centre of gravity mean it never feels as sharp as either the 3 Series saloon or Touring, but the rear-wheel-drive chassis and accurate steering ensure the 3 GT is still more fun to drive than most cars of this size. Of the engine choices, the 320d makes the most sense, offering acceleration from 0-62mph in 7.9 seconds with fuel economy of 57.6mpg. The engine is a little bit too noisy at idle but does improve at speed. If you don't do many miles, the quieter and smoother revving petrol engines may be a better bet. You can choose from the 320i, 328i or 335i, though the 328i with its 242bhp output and up to 44mpg efficiency offers the best blend of performance and economy. This 2.0-litre turbo engine works well with BMW's excellent eight-speed sport automatic gearbox, which is one of the best autos in the business and well worth the £1,660.
The platform underpinning the 3 Series GT is pretty much identical to the one used in the standard 3 Series, so buyers can look to the excellent reliability record of that car for peace of mind - BMW was 14th out of 30 in the 2012 Driver Power survey, just ahead of Audi. The engine range is used extensively throughout BMW's line-up, and all have proven themselves to be extremely reliable. There's a definite feeling of solidity about the interior fittings as well, leading you to believe the 3 Series GT is certainly built to last. There's no official crash safety rating from Euro NCAP yet but we expect the GT to score highly, with a full five-star rating.
The 3 Series GT majors on practicality; it features a wheelbase that is 110mm longer than the standard car, which has allowed BMW to free up a lot more space in the back seats. With an extra 70mm of kneeroom, there's about as much space as you get in the 5 Series. One of its biggest problems, though, is that the higher seating position and swooping roof line mean rear headroom is tighter than in a 3 Series Touring and is made worse if you go for the optional sunroof. The rear seats do recline, though. The boot is also the largest out of any 3 Series model, with a 520-litre load area. Fold the rear seats down at the touch of a button and that figure increases to 1,600 litres.
The most efficient 3 Series GT you can buy is the 318d model, which manages 62.8mpg with the six-speed manual gearbox fitted. That also equates to 119g/km of CO2. The petrol models aren't particularly far behind, with the entry-level 320i capable of 45.6mpg, and with CO2 emissions of 145g/km. That's good news for company car buyers, with the 320i and 318d models both performing well when it comes to Benefit in Kind. It also means a fairly low road tax bill for private buyers.