The BMW 3 Series GT - a more practical alternative to its sedan counterpart
BMW recently launched the 3 Series Gran Turismo (GT) in India, priced at Rs 42.75 lakh ex-showroom. Despite its name, the car has little in common with the 3 Series sedan in terms of appearance. Except for the head lamps that merge with the grille, there's not an element that would help establish a connection with the 3 Series sedan.
A stylish fastback-like appearance is brought about by a raised roofline. The GT also sports a longer wheelbase than the sedan, which translates into more interior space, at the rear especially. The design of the 3 Series GT is interesting, though it may not be as svelte as the 3 Series sedan. What it is, is a more practical alternative.
Open the frame-less door to enter, and the increased ride height makes it easier to settle down. The front seats offer superlative levels of comfort, while a smaller iDrive screen occupies space on the dash. This car does not get the new iDrive touchpad controller and neither does it get electric steering adjust. For a car sold with space in mind, the door pockets and the glovebox are almost the only storage spaces found in the cabin. The rest don’t seem to hold much, while the storage box between the seats is small.
Driving position of the 3 Series GT is spot-on. Ergonomics and fit-finish standards are hard to fault with. Rear occupants are treated to higher seating and more space than is available in the 3 Series sedan. Bigger windows and a big panoramic sunroof adds to the sense of space. The seats offer very good support, while the 500 litres of storage space is accessed through the massive tail gate.
The 181bhp, 2-litre four-cylinder turbo diesel motor presents the 3 Series GT with a befitting performance. Despite being heavier than the 3 Series sedan, the car feels eager and responsive. The 8-speed auto transmission enables the engine to turn in the power band, making it easy to tap into the power without waiting for long. The engine, for its part, offers good amount of torque from lower down. Shifts are quick and smooth.
Offering three driving modes – Sport, Normal and EcoPro, quicker downshifts make it easier to overtake on a highway. If the EcoPro mode dulls response in the interest of fuel efficiency, the Sport mode makes for a livelier drive. Though refined, an amount of engine growl does make itself heard under acceleration.
Compared to the 3 Series sedan, the 3 Series GT does not feel as exciting to drive, it clearly isn't as enthusiastic as the sedan. Heavier than the sedan, and with an elevated centre of gravity, the 3 Series GT forwards a ride that is much better than that of the 3 Series sedan. In turn, the handling seem to have been diluted a little bit. This is evident from the little roll which shows up when pushing through a corner. The steering is direct and responds well to the inputs. Back to ride, and it is only the worst of irregularities that tend to cause some concern.
Assembled in India at BMW's Chennai plant, the 3 Series GT is bigger than the 3 Series sedan, and therefore calls for more attention while driving. Features like the reverse camera do help, but more aptly present the occupants with the illusion that it's bigger than the 3 Series sedan.
The larger dimensions do help with making more room for the occupants, but it's the excellent ride quality which earns the 3 Series GT more brownie points than its sedan counterpart. However, the GT isn't as exciting to drive as the sedan version, and unfortunately there's a lingering feeling that BMW has made it just to occupy the space between the 3 Series and 5 Series sedans.