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 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.
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
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.