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3 Series gets GT treatment

0702 BMW 3 Series GT 1

BMW is giving the Gran Turismo thing another shot, this time with the 3 Series. Ignoring the fact that neither the 5 nor the new 3 Series GTs are actually GTs, it’s the first time BMW has added a model to the 3 Series range since the short-lived Compact was added in 1993.

The new 3 Series GT is not to be confused with the 3 Series Touring, on which it’s based. The GT is longer, wider and taller than that car, and BMW claims it combines the best of all worlds, namely the dynamics of the sedan, the practicality of the Touring and the looks of a coupé. We reckon that’s a bit of a stretch, in the looks department at the very least…

Five engines will power the car when it’s launched, including the range-topping 335i engine and what’s likely to be one of the better sellers, the 320d. The other engines will be the 320i petrol and the brilliant new 328i engine in the petrol department, while the second diesel will be the smaller 318d.It will be more expensive than the Touring, too, with a price premium of about R20 000 over the wagon, which is not even available here in South Africa. It is unknown whether we’ll be getting the GT here, but after the dismal failure that was the 5 Series GT, it’s unlikely.

The 3 Series GT is 4 824 mm in length, 1 828 mm in width and 1 508 mm in height, the upshot of which is that it has a 110 mm longer wheelbase than the Touring. That, in turn, relates to 70 mm extra legroom for rear passengers, which, interestingly, gives it more legroom than the 5 Series sedan.

Boot capacity is where it really counts, though. With the rear seats up you get 520 litres of luggage space (25 more than the Touring), while with them down you get a massive 1 600 litres of space. What’s more, an electric tailgate is standard on the GT.

From a design point of view, it must be said that the 3 GT is not nearly as ungainly as the 5 GT. It’s sleeker in profile and looks a more thought-out car. Otherwise, it’s very recognisable as a 3 Series, which is a good thing. Inside, the seating position is slightly raised, and BMW promises three adults will be comfortable on the rear bench.

On the mechanical front, all except the 335i will come standard with a six-speed manual transmission, with the latter getting an eight-speed autobox as standard. That transmission is optional on all the other models. Sport, Modern and Luxury trim lines will be available with the GT as they are with the rest of the 3 Series range, while M Sport models will also be available. These will ride ten millimetres lower and will feature active dampers, although they’ll only be available in the second half of the year.

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