2014 BMW 3-Series GT Review
Car Tested: 2014 BMW 3-Series GT (Luxury Line)
Price OTR Mumbai: Rs. 52,93,300/-
The BMW 3-Series GT brings an overdose of practicality to the 3-Series model line
Most people might not be aware but BMW is the world leader in the luxury car segment when it comes to sales. The fantastic global performance of the Bavarian automaker has much to do with its penchant to create new segments. The premium compact SUV segment started with the X1 while the first SUV coupe was seen in the form of the X6. Then there was the 5-Series GT, an unexplored niche which paid off so well that BMW went ahead and made the 3-Series GT. Costing as much as a standard 5-Series and not giving the sharpest of first impressions, we weren’t a big fan of the 3GT, until now. The 3-Series GT slots write between the regular 3-Series sedan and the X3 SUV, but it offers the best of both worlds, or so we found out.
Exteriors – The BMW 3-Series GT is nothing but a 3-Series underneath, however the styling can come across as quirky at first. This is because the 3GT has a longer wheelbase and a shorter boot surface since this car has a tail gate like that of a hatchback, the rear windshield opens with it. The roof line is coupe like but the height has been increased and that results in odd proportions at first sight, the styling does grow on you though. The Gran Turismo does share the headlights merging into the grille styling feature of the 3-Series but has quite a different front-end. There are minor chrome touches (above the fog lamps, behind the front wheels and on the rear bumper between the reflectors) which give it that premium appearance.
Interiors – Open the frameless doors and you will first appreciate how they give the car a very sporty feel. They make you feel like this is a sports car (when the windows are down). The cabin is a familiar BMW layout, in fact, there is nothing new here over the regular 3-Series sedan. You get a dual-tone dashboard with wood inserts around the centre console, a popped out iDrive screen (without the new iDrive touchpad to control it), the same 3-spoke steering wheel we see on almost every BMW and the same nice to hold gear selector. There aren’t many cubbyholes inside the cabin although the glovebox and door pockets do suffice to keep stuff.
The BMW 3-Series isn’t a car you would normally have you chauffeur drive while you sit in the rear bench and work. That is because, the 3-Series isn’t the best of cars for a good rear seat experience. This is where the 3GT comes into its own. The extended wheelbase yields a lot of cabin space, which along with big windows and a sunroof that extends till the rear, gives the car an excellent rear seat experience. The seats themselves are now higher and offer excellent support too. In fact, the 3-Series GT offers one of the best rear seat experience at this price point. Be it legroom, headroom or kneeroom, the 3-Series Gran Turismo has all in plenty.
What further makes the cabin such a good place to be in is the airy feel offered by the twin sunroofs, the front one opens. The fit and finish is typical BMW, well put-together on all fronts and boasting of high quality. The boot space is a massive 500-litres and since the tail gate is one piece with the rear windscreen, the loading area is huge. BMW has given the 3GT a space saver tyre which is a good move but that also robs away space from the boot as the spare wheel is kept on the floor, not under it. There is an electric boot close button which is a practical touch as the trunk is quite heavy.
Performance – The same 2.0-litre 4-pot diesel powers the 3-Series GT, there is no change in engine output. The mill continues to belt out 184 HP of peak power at 4000 RPM and 380 Nm of peak torque between 1750-2750 RPM, that’s identical to the 320d sedan. However the 3-Series GT is heavier by almost 150 kgs but that doesn’t seem apparent when you drive this practical BMW. Turbo lag is well contained and peak torque is available from as low as 1750 RPM, this does help in swift performance. Our VBOX tests confirmed the 0-100 km/hr time to be a spirited 8.17 seconds, which is quick considering this car tips the scales at a hefty 1.57 tonnes.
Although the NVH levels of this Bavarian car is good, the diesel engine is noisy, being quite audible when you push the motor around the 4800 RPM redline. It does rev fast though and reaches 100 km/hr in third gear. What really makes the 3-Series GT drive so smoothly is the flawless 8-speed ZF sourced automatic gearbox. It shifts cogs with such secrecy that you barely notice when gears change. 100 km/hr in top gear results in 1500 RPM on the tachometer so there is plenty of grunt should you want to cruise keeping the engine relaxed. With a heavy right foot, we managed to get a mileage of 10 km/l, the BMW EfficientDynamics working very well to boost mileage.
Driving Dynamics – This is a BMW, so it’s quite normal for it to drive extremely well. The 3-Series GT handles beautifully, the steering is feedback rich and there is only a hint of the increased height affecting it, albeit minutely. The insulation is good too, wind and tyre noise is cut out for the most part. It’s really the fantastic body control which makes the 3GT such a hoot to drive. The car is accurate with turn-ins, remains glued to its line at all speeds and makes you feel confident behind the wheel with its dynamic ability. There is an Active Rear Spoiler (first BMW model to have it) which deploys at 110 km/hr and goes back down once you slow down below 70 km/hr, it helps in generating additional lift. There is no button to activate the spoiler. The 3GT also uses a physical handbrake and not an electric unit, so you know the drift.
There are three driving modes on offer – Eco Pro, Comfort and Sport, other than changing the weight on the wheel, it also alters engine and gearbox response time. What is pleasantly surprising is the ride quality. Most BMWs offer a harsh ride but not the 3-Series Gran Turismo. The ride quality is extremely compliant for our roads, the vehicle absorbs all the bad stuff our tarmac has to offer, only letting you know of the large potholes. In fact, the 3-Series GT in no way feels stiff and that lends it a lot of comfort. BMW isn’t using run flats on this car which has a part to play with the improvements to the ride quality. Brakes offer tremendous stopping juice and the 3-Series GT stops in its line in no time.
Verdict – When we first saw the BMW 3-Series GT, we honestly thought the Bavarian automaker is making new segments pointlessly. However the car has proved us wrong. The 3-Series GT acts as a bridge between the 3-Series and 5-Series saloons and while it’s priced quite close to the latter, the amount of practicality it offers, is simply not matched by any other three box vehicle, not even the 5-Series. The 3-Series GT keeps BMW’s driver involvement but brings in a load of comfort, the cabin is huge and so is the boot. The car also boasts of an excellent ride quality and when you factor in the big picture, the 3-Series GT is so good, it starts to become an excellent alternative to bigger and more pricer sedans.
The BMW 3-Series Gran Turismo is big on the inside which lends it a roomy cabin with a big trunk to boot. The frugal engine with good performance, sharp handling and an amazing ride quality further accentuate the appeal of this car which has no direct competition yet.
* Cabin and boot space
* Excellent ride quality
* Frugal diesel engine with decent pep
What’s Not So Cool
* Styling not to everyone’s taste