A few years ago, BMW’s engineers took the chassis of their 7-series model, and gave it a shell that was quite unlike anything anyone had ever seen. It looked like a very big and bulky hatchback (which it was, in a way), with a tailgate that could be opened by either lifting the whole gate up, or by just opening a small portion, to get things in and out in a hurry.
However, the vehicle was not badged as a 7-series, instead it was badged as a 5-series. This model became the first BMW Gran Turismo (GT) model.
While I loved the 5-series GT, it got mixed reviews from others journalists, and the buying public didn’t exactly give it a warm reception either. Due to less than impressive sales numbers, it seemed like the GT idea was one that would go away soon, but BMW wasn’t ready to give up on it that easily.
So, for 2014, BMW has unveiled a new GT model, which is actually based on the long wheelbase version of the 3-series sedan sold in China. The longer wheelbase means there is more room for rear seat passengers, making it more practical than a regular 3-series. However, due to its sloping roof, it offers less cargo space than the 3-series Touring.
Unlike the 5GT, the 3GT does not have a two-stage tailgate, but does gain an active rear spoiler, which rises as you go past 120 km/h – so that means you’ll never see it deployed in Canada, since our nations top speed limit is 100 km/h, right? However, there is a button on the door, by the window switches, that lets you manually deploy that spoiler – at least that is what you’ll tell the officer why your spoiler is up.
In Canada, the 3GT is available with two engines, a 2.0-litre, turbo charged, four-cylinder unit that produces 241 hp and 258 lb-ft of torque, and the 3.0-litre, turbo charged, six-cylinder motor that produces 300 hp and 300 lb-ft of torque. My tester came equipped with the latter.
As you’d expect, this is a fast family commuter. The 335i GT can sprint from zero to 100 km/h in just 5.4 seconds, while top speed is electronically limited to 210 km/h.
Thanks to its excellent chassis, the car stays stable and confidence inspiring at highway speeds, and since all 3GT models sold in Canada come standard with BMW’s xDrive all-wheel drive system, that confident feeling stays with you, regardless of what mother nature has in store for you.
The xDrive system also helps you in the corners, as it applies power to the wheels that can best use it. All of this happens very seamlessly, allowing you to sit back and enjoy the drive.
If you drive like I do, your city and highway average will be close to 10.9 litres/100km – however, I’d like to point out that my test was done in one of the coldest weeks in winter, and the car was wearing winter tires. In the summer, the fuel consumption would be much better.
It’s eight-speed automatic is smooth and seriously quick, especially in ‘Sport’ mode, and while cruising on the highway, it seats the revs at around 2000-rpm, which is very relaxing.
As for the one driving the 3GT, the experience is very much like sitting in any other 3-series, which means, a great, high tech interior with lots of features to amuse you, but is a bit lacking in aesthetic appeal. For the rear seat passengers, there is more leg room as mentioned before, but headroom starts flowing away thanks to that sloping roof. Like all other 3-series models, the ride comfort is excellent, which has always been a strong selling point for this model.
Are there any weak points? Nothing technically, but I wish it looked more special. The BMW 3GT is very rightly a competitor for the Audi A7, as both these cars offer about the same performance, and practicality. The 3GT is actually quite a bit cheaper than an A7 also, but the latter looks much more upscale. The M Sport package on the 3GT does make it look nicer though, and I very much enjoyed the reaction my tester got on the road.
Canadian pricing for the 328i GT start at $48,990. My 335i GT tester with lots of desirable options was stickered at around $64,000.
I very much liked the 3GT, but is it the best 3-series currently on sale? Personally, I’d rather spend my earnings on the 3-series Touring model.