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.

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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...