It may sound like a small thing, but the big news in the new BMW 3 Series Gran Tourismo (320d GT) is that it’s a genuine four/five seater. Genuine in that those travelling in the back seats have plenty of room to move. Keen drivers on a relatively limited budget who had families simply couldn’t afford a BMW to suit previously.
Strictly speaking the letters GT mean a car is a Grand Tourer, or Gran Tourismo in Italian. The name was coined to describe cars designed for the rich to let them tour in the grand manner. They had to be fast point to point, but at the same time provide their occupants with luxurious travel, as well as provide plenty of luggage space for the numerous items required for social engagements along the way.
Though the 3 Gran Tourismo is taller than others in the BMW sedan and wagon range – to achieve maximum interior volume by increasing the height of the seats above the floor – it manages to look lower and sleeker than it really is. This is a far cry from BMW’s first attempt at a Gran Tourismo, the 5 GT. While the BMW 5 GT received plenty of praise for its voluminous interior, its styling leant more in the direction of function than fashion.
To their credit the stylists have certainly paid attention and the BMW 3 GT got many favourable comments during our week’s road test.
Though it is loosely based on the BMW 3 Series sedan, the all-new GT is much larger inside and has legroom not far short of that in the big BMW 7 Series saloon, and with good headroom as well.
Boot space is 520 litres with the seats in use, and up to 1600 litres if all of the 40/20/40 seatbacks are folded down.
The new 3 Series GT is powered by engines already familiar to us from other BMW models. There’s a choice between three four-cylinder 2.0-litre engines, two petrol and one diesel. A responsive eight-speed automatic transmission is used behind each engine.
The BMW 320d has what BMW Professional audio and satellite navigation systems that’s operated through the usual iDrive controller using a 6.5-inch colour screen. Connectivity is available through Bluetooth, USB and Aux.
Many buyers are likely to opt for the ‘Lines’ packages offered by BMW Australia. The importer has looked over its books to work out which were the options most often chosen by buyers; and has bundled these together in Lines it calls Modern, Sport and Luxury. The names are probably self explanatory, but we suggest you contact your BMW dealer for the comprehensive list of items.
BMW has long been one of the leaders in safety and the 3 Series Gran Turismo has a full suite of crash preparation systems, six airbags, a rear camera and run-flat tyres and automatic wipers and headlights amongst many other active and passive safety items.
Our test car BMW 3 GT was the 320d turbo-diesel gives you 135kW and 380 Nm. Though it can’t provide the immediate response of a non-turbo engine it comes pretty close to it. Once the initial turbo lag has passed and the engine is on song it’s a beautiful powerplant with lots of torque over a good spread of revs.
Fuel consumption is generally in the six to seven litres per hundred kilometres range in quiet cruising, and seven to nine litres per hundred in day to day commuting. These are excellent numbers of an engine with the sort of performance demanded by keen BMW drivers.
The slightly higher centre of gravity of the BMW 3 Series Gran Tourismo compared with the standard 3 Series sedan and wagon isn’t really noticeable in normal driving; presumably at-the-limit track testing might have shown some difference. We can’t really imagine owners taking on track days in a family hatch like this – but who knows.
It comes as no surprise that this all-new BMW is a sheer delight to drive, with excellent balance, sharp steering and a feeling that the car was aware of the driver’s every wish.
For the very serious driver there is the option of M adaptive suspension, variable sports steering and sport seats.
A bonus of the higher seats is that it’s easier to get into and out of the car than in regular sedans and hatches, something that will be appreciated by those who are no longer as young as they would like to be.
BMW’s clever new 3 Series Gran Tourismo not only offers driving pleasure and prestige at a relatively modest price for its class, but also practicality that hasn’t previously been offered by the marque in a machine of this size.
320i 2.0-litre twin-turbo petrol five-door hatch: $59,500 (automatic)
328i 2.0-litre twin-turbo petrol five-door hatch: $76,500 (automatic)
320d 2.0-litre twin-turbo diesel five-door hatch: $71,800 (automatic)
Note: These prices do not include government or dealer delivery charges. Contact your local BMW dealer for drive-away prices.
ABS Brakes: Standard in all models
Automatic Transmission: Standard in all models
Cruise Control: Standard in all models
Dual Front Airbags: Standard in all models
Front Side Airbags: Standard in all models
Electronic Stability Program: Standard in all models
Rear Parking Sensors: Standard in all models
Reversing Camera: Standard in all models
USB/Auxiliary Audio inputs: Standard in all models
Bluetooth: Standard in all models
Steering wheel mounted controls: Standard in all models
SPECIFICATIONS (BMW 320d 2.0-litre turbo-diesel five-door hatch)
Engine Capacity: 1.995 litres Configuration: Four cylinders in line Head Design: DOHC, four valves per cylinder Compression Ratio: 16.5:1 Bore/Stroke: 84.0 mm x 90.0 mm Maximum Power: 135 kW @ 4000 rpm Maximum Torque: 380 Nm @ 1750 rpm
DRIVELINE: Driven Wheels: All wheel Manual Transmission: Not offered Automatic Transmission: Eight-speed Final Drive Ratio: Not supplied
DIMENSIONS, WEIGHT AND CAPACITIES: Length: 4824 mm Wheelbase: 2920 mm Width: 1828 mm Height: 1508 mm Turning Circle: 11.8 metres Kerb Mass: 1575 kg Fuel Tank Capacity: 57 litres Towing Ability: Not supplied Boot Capacity: 520 litres
SUSPENSION AND BRAKES: Front Suspension: MacPherson struts, coil springs Rear Suspension: Coil springs Front Brakes: Ventilated disc Rear Brakes: Ventilated disc
PERFORMANCE: 0-100 km/h Acceleration: 7.9 seconds
FUEL CONSUMPTION: Type: Diesel Combined Cycle (ADR 81/02): 5.0 L/100km
GREEN VEHICLE GUIDE RATINGS: Greenhouse Rating: 8/10 Air Pollution Rating: 6/10
STANDARD WARRANTY: Three years/unlimited km