Review: BMW 3 Series Grand Turismo

With the trend towards providing coupe variants of mainstream saloon cars now firmly established across the main premium brands, BMW has for some time had its 4 Series Gran Coupe which essentially was the coupe variant of the 3 Series saloon, writes Brian Byrne. But shortly after the launch of the current generation 3 in 2012, they produced a 3 Series Grand Turismo, also a coupe shape.

But there's no need to be confused. They are each aimed at a different market, albeit both being those inclined towards sporty styles.

The 3 Series GT is in fact longer than the saloon, has a longer wheelbase, and has an underpinnings relationship to the estate version of the model. If we were looking for a descriptive variation from the 4 Series coupe, we might call it a 'fastback'.

Whatever, the front section is pretty familiar 3 Series, a nicely balanced look to the current BMW style ethos.  In profile and at the rear is a significantly different car, and whether it is to one's particular taste depends on what each individual viewer's taste is.

The interior is also familiar to any of us who have driven the current 3 Series, or any recent BMW up to the new 5 Series, where a sleeker style of dashboard and instruments layout is showing. It could be suggested that it is getting a tad dated, a mite fussy, but that would be nitpicking.

The controls are all familiar too, including the iDrive management of the centre screen stuff, and we've all gotten used to it now. The steering wheel has that extra sense of chunkiness over other brands, which isn't any issue unless you have small hands. There can never be a fault with the driving position in any 3, this one included. Good comfortable seats too, at the top of their league in the premium sector.

The extra length, and rear headroom, of the GT means there's a really good accommodation for the rear passengers, and the liftback behind them provides all the luggage space even a full car's occupants might reasonably need on a trip. So, all in all, this is a 'coupe' style car with none of the usual compromises the genre can mean.

Mechanically, the GT will offer the same line of engines as are available in any 3, and in the case of the review car that was the 188hp 320d, which offered a sparkling 7.7s sprint to 100km/h when I wanted a fast shift away from the lights, or a good run onto the motorway from the ramp. The 8-speed automatic on this car  is actually rated more efficient in fuel consumption and emissions terms than the 6-speed manual, and it proved to be a really smooth gearbox indeed. The choice of different driving modes is always worth it too.

Quiet, refined, mannerly, and offering a certain level of exhilaration when required. All the things that make the 3 Series the aspirational car that it is are also in this version.

You pay for it, of course. Especially in the review car, which was loaded with a bunch of extras adding almost €12,000 to the original car's €51,032. Some of these were part of Parking, Comfort, M Sport Plus, and Media packages, and there were elements of each which I'd expect as standard in a car at this price — such as rear camera, heated seats, and navigation. The autobox on its own was a worth-it €2,406 extra, while 'enhanced' Bluetooth with wireless charging was a cool €562 extra.

Talking with a couple of 3 Series saloon owners, I got mixed reactions to the style, most of them preferring their own format. But then, this is designed as niche, and even premium-on-premium, so that's probably in line the thinking of the Munich marketeers.

It was an enjoyable acquaintance.

Windsor Motor Group creates 20 new jobs

Ireland’s largest retail motor group - Windsor Motor Group - is expanding and creating 20 new jobs with the opening of its fifteenth dealership nationwide, writes Trish Whelan.

The new jobs in sales, service and repair were announced with the opening of the new Windsor Long Mile Nissan dealership in Dublin.

Windsor Motor Group, which has an annual turnover of €200 million, now employs over 300 people at its dealerships in Dublin, Wicklow, Meath and Galway.

The motor group represents Nissan, Opel, Peugeot and Mazda and sells over 9,000 new and used vehicles in addition to servicing and repairing 25,000 vehicles a year, making it the market leading brand.

While the Windsor Long Mile Nissan dealership is predominately a commercial centre for new and used commercial vehicles, customers can also buy new and used cars and avail of various finance options. It will also provide service, trade parts and bodyshop services.

Newly appointed Managing Director of Windsor Motor Group, Peter Nicholson is pictured above with company brand ambassador and Leinster and Ireland rugby player Jack McGrath at the opening of Windsor Long Mile Nissan dealership.

Teasing the new S-Class again ahead of Shanghai

Mercedes-Benz has issued another teaser picture for the new S-Class, which will debut at the Shanghai Auto Show next Wednesday, writes Brian Byrne.

The car will showcase new assistance systems, new comfort features, and new engines as well as further pioneering technologies from the premium brand.

A show car ‘Concept A Sedan’ will also feature, presenting a first look ahead at the next-generation of Mercedes-Benz’s compact car family.

Mercedes-Benz extends private car sharing project

A private car sharing service piloted by Mercedes-Benz in Munich has now been rolled out to Berlin, writes Brian Byrne.

The Croove initiative uses a smartphone app to link people who want to rent out their private cars for periods when they are not otherwise in use with people who want to rent a specific model or make of car.

Owners create an online profile with the details of their vehicle, including any optional equipment. The person renting out their vehicle can set their own price or Croove can help with this to balance supply and demand.

Vehicles must be in good condition and no more than 15 years old. Renters (minimum age 21, must hold a valid driving licence) simply have to register and then they can contact vehicle owners via the app or website and arrange appointments.

It is possible to either collect the vehicle in person or pay extra for a pickup and delivery service. In future, Croove intends to make keyless access possible. Payment is made electronically via the app.

The project is part of the Mercedes-Benz CASE initiative involving connectivity, autonomous cars, shared use, and electric vehicles.

International Mini Festival in Westport

Up to 3,000 Mini fans from all over the world will be meeting up in Westport, Co Mayo, for the 2017 Mini International Festival from 25028 May, writes Brian Byrne.

Some 1,200 Mini cars are expected at the event, the programme for which includes a treasure hunt along the Wild Atlantic Way, a Puc Fada Competition, Mini owners Club Olympic Games, slalom races and awards for the most beautiful, extraordinary and fastest versions of the classic Mini.

Guests of honour who will open IMM 2017 include Irish motor racing legend Mervyn Johnson and Paddy Hopkirk who won the Monte Carlo Rally in a classic Mini in 1964.

Westport House was chosen as the venue for this event because of its breath-taking setting and the fantastic facilities.

The event is open to all fans and the general public. Tickets can be found on the IMM 2017 website and is being organised by the Irish MINI Owners Club.

Weekend tickets are priced at €95 (includes camping), meanwhile on the Sunday gate tickets will be available for guests who would like to soak up the atmosphere, at €10 per person (children free) and car & driver €20.

UN Global Road Safety Week is on

What can be done to deal with the speed risk factor is the focus of the fourth UN Global Road Safety Week, which started yesterday, writes Brian Byrne.

In Ireland, the event is being organised on an all-island level, in a joint operation by the Road Safety Authority and the NI Department for Infrastructure.

The endeavour will include visits to communities and schools by the RSA National Road Safety Officers, and spreading the dangers of speed message through social media by the DoI in Northern Ireland.

A total of 54 people have lost their lives on the roads in the Republic of Ireland to date in 2017. This is nine fewer up to the same period in 2016. A total of 19 people have lost their lives on the roads in Northern Ireland to date in 2017. This is the same as up to the same period in 2016 and five fewer than at the same time in 2015.

Nissan prototypes cutoff box for handheld temptation

Nissan has revealed a prototype device to discourage drivers from using their handheld phones while driving, writes Brian Byrne.

The Nissan Safety Shield is an under-armrest compartment which is lined by a Faraday cage-type mesh that blocks electromagnetic fields.

cellular, Bluetooth and wifi connections would be unable to work once the phone is placed in the compartment. That would also mean no notifications or alerts beeping from the phone.

Since 26pc of drivers in the UK in a survey said they still use handhelds to check texts, emails, and social media while driving, so getting into the habit of using a shielded compartment would reduce temptation to answer alerts.

It has been illegal to use handlhelds while driving in the UK for 17 years.

Faraday cages are named after the English scientist Michael Faraday, who invented them in 1836.

Review: BMW 3 Series Grand Turismo

With the trend towards providing coupe variants of mainstream saloon cars now firmly established across the main premium brands, BMW has for...