BMW 3 Series Gran Turismo review
The BMW 3 Series Gran Turismo is a bigger, more practical version of the 3 Series that comes with roomier back seats. Unfortunately, it’s more expensive and not quite as frugal
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BMW 3 Series Gran Turismo: what would you like to read next?
The BMW 3 Series Gran Turismo is a larger, more practical version of the 3 Series saloon that comes with more passenger space in the back and a bigger boot. It’s an alternative to the likes of the Audi A5 Sportback and the smaller Mercedes CLA Shooting Brake.
Step inside, and you’ll find the BMW 3 Series Gran Turismo’s interior looks pretty much identical to what you get in the standard 3 Series. There’s a similar broad dashboard with intuitive heating and ventilation controls and a free-standing infotainment display. Everything feels just as well built and plush, but it still trails the bulletproof Audi A5 Sportback for outright fit and finish.
In terms of practicality, the BMW 3 Series Gran Turismo edges ahead, however. There’s just as much head and legroom in the front seats as you get in the standard 3 Series saloon but the 3 Series Gran Turismo’s longer body means your passengers get to enjoy slightly more legroom in the back. Unfortunately, try to carry three adults side-by-side, and you’ll hear nothing but complaints from your passenger in the middle seat – a large lump in the floor leaves them nowhere to put their feet.
That said, they’ll still have more space to stretch out than in the Audi A5 Sportback and the BMW 3 Series Gran Turismo comes with a bigger boot, too. There’s space for a few large suitcases or a set of golf clubs with the back seats up and – with them folded down – a bike will fit with both wheels attached.
The BMW 3 Series Gran Turismo’s back end looks a little like a 3 Series Touring that’s been sat on by an elephant. Despite this, it’s still impressively practical
Don’t think all this luggage space means the BMW 3 Series Gran Turismo drives like a boxy SUV – it’s noticeably more nimble than the Audi A5 Sportback on a twisty country road. It doesn’t feel quite as agile as the lighter, shorter 3 Series saloon, but with the optional adaptive suspension fitted it does a fine job for such a roomy car.
Driving the BMW 3 Series Gran Turismo is fairly relaxing, too. It’s quiet and comfortable at motorway speeds, and the light steering means it isn’t at all strenuous to drive around town. It’s not all good news, however – it’s not quite as easy to manoeuvre as the smaller 3 Series saloon and you’ll have to pay extra for parking sensors and a reversing camera.
There are plenty of engines to choose from – including frugal diesels best suited to long motorway journeys and a range of petrols, including a seriously rapid 340i model. Sadly, you’ll have to pay extra for plenty of driver assistance systems – even automatic emergency braking costs extra across the range.
If you’re happy to pay extra for a few desirable options, then the BMW 3 Series Gran Turismo makes a very comfortable, very upmarket five-seater. You’ll just have to decide whether the extra space is worth the premium over the standard 3 Series saloon and estate…
The BMW 3 Series Gran Turismo is roomy inside and has a bigger boot than the 3 Series saloon and the Touring estate. It’s only let down by a rather cramped central rear seat
You probably won’t be able to tell the BMW 3 Series Gran Turismo apart from the standard 3 Series in the front seats. The lack of complaints from your back-seat passengers might give it away, though…
Space in the front of the BMW 3 Series Gran Turismo is almost identical to the pretty roomy BMW 3 Series saloon. You won’t be left wanting for head and leg room – even if you’re very tall – and there’s a decent amount of seat- and steering-wheel adjustment to help you find your perfect driving position.
Unfortunately, electric seat adjustment with a memory function is a rather expensive optional extra, and even top-spec cars don’t come with adjustable lumbar support as standard. Even heated seats cost extra across the BMW 3 Series Gran Turismo range.
Because the BMW 3 Series Gran Turismo’s wheelbase (the distance between the front and the rear wheels) is longer than in the BMW 3 Series saloon, your back-seat passengers get to enjoy noticeably more legroom. The raised rear seats and larger side windows mean they get a better view out, too, and the back seats can even recline slightly to help them nod off on long drives. Unfortunately, the BMW 3 Series Gran Turismo’s raised rear seats mean there isn’t a great deal of headroom, but six-foot-tall passengers’ will still have plenty of space to sit comfortably behind an equally tall driver.
The large rear doors make it a doddle to fit a large child seat, too, and the BMW 3 Series Gran Turismo’s raised roofline over the standard BMW 3 Series saloon means you won’t have to stoop down quite so far to strap in a child.
The BMW 3 Series Gran Turismo comes with a decent number of handy storage bins, but not quite as many as you get in an Audi A5 Sportback. The front door bins are just about large enough to hold a 1.5-litre bottle, but those in the back are only big enough for a one-litre bottle each.
You get two cupholders in the centre console, but they aren’t quite as generous as those in the Audi A5 Sportback. There’s a decent amount of space in the glovebox, but you’ll have to pay extra for the Interior Comfort pack if you want a sliding front armrest.
The BMW 3 Series Gran Turismo’s 520-litre boot is larger than the standard 3 Series saloon’s and it can carry more than the BMW 3 Series Touring estate. It’s roomier than the boot you get in an Audi A5 Sportback, too, and the boot opening is wide and square so it’s easy to lift in bulky items.
There’s a fairly sizeable lip by the boot floor which can make it tricky to slide in very heavy luggage, but at least you get a few tether points and hooks to hold everything securely in place.
If you need to carry very long luggage, the centre-rear seat flips down individually so there’s still space for two passengers to sit in the back seats. Fold all three rear seats down, and the BMW 3 Series Gran Turismo’s boot grows to 1,600 litres – that’s more spacious than the load bay you get in a BMW 3 Series Touring and large enough to easily carry a bike with both its wheels attached.
The BMW 3 Series Gran Turismo is relaxing to drive, but you’ll have to pay extra for the optional adaptive suspension to enjoy it at its most comfortable
You can’t make a car longer, taller and heavier without a few compromises. As a result, the 3 Series Gran Turismo isn’t quite as fun to drive as the standard 3 Series on which it’s based
You can get the BMW 3 Series Gran Turismo with four diesel engines and three petrol units. Depending on which engine you choose, you can also get it with either a manual or automatic gearbox, and with rear- or four-wheel drive.
If you’re sticking to a budget and mainly do short journeys around town, you’ll want to consider the 320i model. This four-cylinder petrol car is relatively quiet, fairly affordable to buy and returns a claimed 45.6mpg. In normal driving conditions, however, you’ll probably see a figure in the high thirties.
There’s also a more powerful 330i petrol model – again with four-cylinders – that’ll suit you better if you do a mix of inner-city and motorway driving. It’s more expensive to buy, but it’s actually slightly more fuel-efficient than the 320i version and quicker, too. It’ll accelerate from 0-62mph in 6.1 seconds compared with the 320i’s 8.0-second time.
If you do lots of long journeys, you should take a closer look at one of the three diesel engines on offer. The entry-level 320d is the cheapest to buy, but it’s still a smidge faster than the basic 320i petrol. Drive with a gentle touch on the accelerator and it’ll return around 50mpg compared with BMW’s claimed 56.5mpg figure.
If that pace sounds a little pedestrian, there’s also a more powerful six-cylinder 3.0-litre 335d diesel model that’ll accelerate from 0-62mph in just 5.4 seconds yet still returns respectable fuel economy. BMW claims you’ll see 47.1mpg, but you can expect it to manage closer to 40mpg in normal driving conditions.
At the top of the BMW 3 Series Gran Turismo performance tree, you’ll find the 340i model. This six-cylinder turbocharged petrol produces 326hp – enough to sprint from 0-62mph in a hot-hatch worrying 5.1 seconds. Don’t expect it to be cheap to run, however. Even with the patience of a saint, you’ll struggle to get close to BMW’s claimed 40.4mpg figure.
The 318d, 320d and 320i models come with a manual gearbox as standard, but – if you’re happy to pay extra – you can upgrade to the same eight-speed automatic you get in 330i, 335d and 340i models. The standard manual is relatively easy to use, but the optional auto is much more suitable if you spend a lot of time stuck in heavy traffic. It’s smooth, responsive and helps take the stress out of regular rush-hour commutes.
You can also get BMW’s xDrive four-wheel drive in all but entry-level 318d cars. This gives you a little extra grip to help deal with slippery conditions but it’s probably only worth considering if you live somewhere particularly prone to harsh winter weather.
The BMW 3 Series Gran Turismo is larger and heavier than the standard BMW 3 Series, so it doesn’t feel quite as agile to drive. That isn’t to say it leans much in tight corners – despite its large size, the BMW 3 Series Gran Turismo’s body doesn’t wallow about on a twisty country road and it feels a little more nimble than the Audi A5 Sportback.
Pay extra for the adaptive suspension and the BMW 3 Series Gran Turismo is a very comfortable car to travel in. It soaks up bumps and potholes without sending any unpleasant jolts through your seat. You won’t hear much wind or tyre noise at motorway speeds, either.
Around town, the BMW 3 Series Gran Turismo’s large size means it isn’t quite as easy to manoeuvre through traffic as the shorter BMW 3 Series saloon. Visibility isn’t quite as good either, but at least the steering is reasonably light so your arms won’t start to ache every time you have to park.
On the subject of parking, front and rear parking sensors are an optional extra – even on top-spec cars – but at least the Advanced Parking pack also brings with it a reversing camera and a system that’ll steer you into bay and parallel spaces automatically.
Another option that’s well worth paying for is adaptive cruise control. Not only will it help take the sting out of long journeys, but in cars fitted with an automatic gearbox it’ll bring the car to a complete stop if traffic ahead is brought to a standstill.
The BMW 3 Series Gran Turismo hasn’t been crash-tested by Euro NCAP, but it’s based on the five-star rated BWM 3 Series. It achieved this rating way back in 2012 when the tests weren’t quite as strict, however.
If safety is your number one concern, you should consider the optional Driving Assistant pack. This comes with lane departure warning, forward collision warning and automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection.
The BMW 3 Series Gran Turismo’s cabin feels suitably solid, but it doesn’t have quite the same design flair or hewn-from-granite feel as some alternatives