Occupying a niche that is halfway between a station wagon and a crossover, the BMW 3-Series Gran Turismo applies the concept inaugurated by the larger 5-Series GT to the firm's bread-and-butter model. Aimed at a crowd looking for a blend of cargo space and the dynamic driving experience typically associated with a BMW, the GT is the third body style of the new 3-Series family.
The GT rides on a modified 3-Series platform and stretches 189 inches long, 58.6 inches tall and 72 inches wide, dimensions that make it 7.9 inches longer and 3.2 inches taller than a standard 3-Series sedan. The extra space benefits the four occupants aboard as the seats are 2.3 inches higher than in the 3-Series and rear legroom has been increased by 2.8 inches.
The added space enables the GT to offer 18.3 cubic feet of cargo space, making it slightly roomier than the 3-Series Sport Wagon. Up to 56.8 cubic feet of trunk space can be obtained by folding down the 40/20/40 split reach bench seat, and an electronic tailgate works with LED lighting that illuminates the cargo area and four tie-down hooks to make carrying bulky items a breeze.
When viewed from the front, the 3-Series GT wears a conservative design that borrows numerous styling cues from the 3-Series sedan but frameless windows and a more muscular overall look give the hatchback an identity of its own. Around back, the GT features a sloping roofline that gives it a noticeably sportier silhouette than the larger 5-Series GT.
Insider, the driver-oriented dashboard is nearly identical to the one found in the 3-Series. It features a 6.5-inch color display for the latest generation of BMW's ConnectedDrive infotainment system, as well as Bluetooth and USB connectivity. ConnectedDrive enables the passengers to get directions with real-time traffic information, surf the internet on the go, change the climate control settings or pick a different radio station by either using the touch screen, the iDrive knob mounted next to the gear selector or the voice control system. The dash-mounted screen also displays album covers and the images transmitted by the rear view camera.
Under the hood
The entry-level 328i is offered with a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine that uses a twin-scroll turbocharger to make 240 horsepower and 255 lb-ft. of torque, while the more expensive 335i utilizes a 3.0-liter turbocharged straight-six that makes 300 horsepower and 300 lb-ft. of torque. Pulled directly out of the 3-Series parts bin, both engines are bolted to an eight-speed automatic transmission that sends power to the rear wheels, and BMW's xDrive all-wheel drive system will be available shortly after the car's launch.
To save fuel, the 3-Series GT comes standard with a Start-Stop system that cuts the engine at idle and a Brake Energy Regeneration that stores kinetic energy generated when the car is braking and uses it to power the electrical system whenever possible.
The 3-Series GT is available in the same trim levels as the 3-Series sedan: Standard, Sport Line, Luxury Line, Modern Line and M Sport.
The Sport Line model is easily distinguishable from other trim levels because it adds high-gloss black exterior molding, a nine-slat grille with a chrome surround and piece of black trim on the rear bumper. Inside, black seats with red accents create a sporty ambiance and shift paddles mounted behind the steering wheel can be ordered at an extra cost.
The Luxury Line model gets chrome trim on both bumpers and around the windows, an 11-slat grille and chrome exhaust tips, and available trim-specific 18- and 19-inch alloy wheels finish off the upmarket look. The opulent treatment continues on the inside with chrome bezels for the air vents, seats with special stitching and real wood trim.
The Modern Line model get chrome trim on the outside and special air intakes on the front bumper, and it can be fitted with specific turbine-style 18- and 19-inch wheels. Inside, a light-colored dashboard comes standard, the steering wheel can be ordered in two colors and three different trim materials are available.
The M Sport model wear a model-specific body kit that includes a front apron, side skirts and an air diffuser mounted in the rear bumper, giving the performance-focused hatchback a more aggressive look than the other trim levels. A lowered and stiffened suspension provides a more responsive handling that is complemented by a track-inspired steering wheel and M trim pieces inside and out. M Sport buyers can order the GT in an eye-catching trim-specific color called Estoril Blue, and the Sport Line's shift paddles are available as an option.
Regardless of trim level, all models come with an active rear spoiler, a first on a BMW, that extends at 68 mph to reduce drag.
All 3-Series GT models come standard with dual front, front-side and full-length side curtain airbags in addition to traction and stability control systems and a tire pressure monitoring system. Optional safety features include a Lane Departure Warning system, BMW's Active Blind Spot Detection and a Forward Collision Warning system.
The one-of-a-kind BMW 3-Series GT doesn't have any direct competition but customers might compare it to the 3-Series Sport Wagon. It is slightly smaller than the GT inside but it can be ordered with a 2.0-liter turbodiesel, a mill that will not be offered on the five-door hatchback.