£33,820 - £47,155 Price range
37 - 56 MPG
The BMW 3 GT follows the same ethos of the 5 Series GT – offering more space for passengers and luggage than the 3 Series saloon at the cost of less-striking looks. It rivals other small executive cars with a practical focus such as the Audi A5 Sportback and the smaller Mercedes CLA Shooting Brake.
Inside, it’s regular 3 Series fare, so you get a driver-focused dashboard and a design that is starting to age a bit now. What can’t be found fault with is the passenger space that’s comparable to the larger 5 Series, and the big boot.
Out on the road, you’re treated to the usual direct steering and compliant chassis you get in the 3 Series saloon, but the GT weighs around 140kg more and it’s higher centre of gravity dulls the driving pleasure a bit. It’s not bad in any area, but keen drivers should go for the 3 Series Touring.
All engines available are decently refined, but most importantly powerful enough so that the 3 Series GT never feels slow. The entry-level diesel is a bit grumbly on startup, but it’s alright at a steady cruise on the motorway.
Typically for a BMW the options list is extensive and quite expensive but entry-level cars get essentials such as the iDrive system with a 6.5-inch screen, air-conditioning and an electrically-operated tailgate as standard.
There’s very little to complain about in the GT’s cabin. It’s much like a 3-Series saloon or Touring in here, albeit the most practical of the bunch. The design may be a bit tame, but the sporty feel is there in spades.
BMW 3 Series GT passenger space
Room for passengers is certainly improved, the car’s main reason for existing. The wheelbase is longer, rear legroom is similar to that of the 5-Series and the rear seats recline for greater comfort. Conversely, a higher seating position means some might find headroom a little cramped.
BMW 3 Series GT boot space
The boot space is actually greater than that of the Touring at 520 litres, and it’s bigger with the rear seats folded flat too.
The same can’t quite be said for how it drives. Based on the excellent 3 Series there’s a limit to how bad it can get of course, but the extra weight and taller body does have an affect on how the 3 GT turns. Some agility has been lost over the regular 3 Series, but it’s a marginal difference and unless you drive them back-to-back, you won’t notice.
On the plus side, body roll is kept in relative check, the steering is smooth and precise – particularly when Sport mode on the £750 optional adaptive dampers is selected – and it rides well. Genuinely well, too, with none of the sporty firmness you occasionally find in other BMWs.
It’s the usual wide range of power units here, from frugal diesels to punchy petrols. Most will opt for the 318d and 320d diesels, both of which sell well in any BMW model they feature. Both engines – and indeed most of BMW’s four-cylinder diesels – can be a little rattly at idle. But this soon settles down and while the GT’s weight blunts performance, each is relatively brisk with economy near or above the 60 mpg mark.
The petrols are good too, and generally more pleasant to use than the diesels. There are no refinement concerns here, just strong performance and in the case of the six-cylinder 340i GT, the ability to scare some hot hatchbacks off the lights. Of course, economy drops as you move up the performance ladder, but even the least frugal still manages mid-thirties mpg.
However, you’d really need to have your heart set on a petrol when you consider the fact that the most potent diesel, the 335d, will not only reach 62mph 0.5 seconds quicker, but is also 15mpg more frugal.
The engine is "eager" according to testers, and "refined on the move", even if it can be a bit rattly at idle. It's apparently at its best between 2,000-3,500 rpm. Throw in 119 g/km CO2 emissions and the 318d is a worthy choice.
Some testers call it "gutsy" and "punchy", a nod to its 7.9-second 0-60 sprint and 140 mph top speed. There's a hefty 280 lb-ft of torque too, but more than one review suggests the engine may be a bit overwhelmed by the heavy body at times - and when you extend it, it can be surprisingly noisy. While the 8-speed auto is smooth too, it does have a habit of optimising economy and picking high gears, at the expense of readily-available thrust. The payoff, though, is economy of nearly 60 mpg.
One reviewer says the engine and drivetrain "want for nothing", praising the swift and seamless 8-speed auto and strong power. Another calls it "punchy yet revvy". The auto is also most efficient, at over 44 mpg - not as frugal as the diesel, but plenty for drivers doing lower mileages.
That power gives it a "hooligan element" according to one tester, particularly in M Sport trim that sharpens up the drive - though it still isn't as fun as the regular saloon. Refinement is good though, and the 8-speed auto slick. Only economy of 36.7 mpg may deter some.
The Gran Turismo comes well-equipped with a whole heap of safety features, most of which involve controlling one thing or another: Cornering Brake Control, Dynamic Traction Control, Dynamic Brake Control… the list goes on.
Every model comes equipped with six airbags as standard, so there are more than enough to share. It should be very safe should the worst happen, too: although the Gran Turismo hasn’t been tested by Euro NCAP, the regular 3-Series achieved a five-star score.
The 3 GT may be the most practical 3-Series, but it’s also the most expensive. Pricing puts it half way between a 3-Series Touring and a 5-Series Touring, both of which are as much a rival for the GT as anything from other manufacturers. Actually choosing a true rival is difficult – only Audi’s A5 Sportback is really comparable, and it’s the cheaper car to buy.
The Audi is a touch more frugal at its most extreme too, and unlike the BMW has a true range-topping performance model in the RS5. The 3 GT’s lofty pricing does seem a little steep, though as with all BMWs residuals should be strong – particularly on diesels.
The 3 GT’s optional adaptive dampers are worth going for, blending the option of sharper handling with a compliant ride even on large, stylish wheels. It’s a bit more fun in M Sport spec, too.
To some, the GT may seem like a niche too far and BMW’s decision to charge more for it than the better-driving saloon and Touring doesn’t help its case.
Others will find the extra accommodation in the rear and its comfortable ride quite appealing. Generally, the GT has more fans than foes. If you’re happy to spend more for the better rear accommodation and larger boot (and put up with the slightly ungainly looks) then you’ll find much to like.
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