What is it?
As the name suggests, the BMW 3 Series Gran Turismo (GT) is the Grand Touring version of the 3 Series sedan. Last year, BMW India introduced the updated 3 Series sedan with restyled headlamps and tail lights as well as slight tweaks to the interiors. Following this launch, the carmaker also brought in this 2017 BMW 3 Series GT with similar updates.
The GT still looks slightly bloated as compared to the sedan so it might not be to everybody’s tastes. However, the new tweaked bumpers have given the car a sharper look. Also the new full LED headlamps and LED tail lights add flair to its appearance. The frameless doors and deployable boot-lid spoiler also adds to its aura. All these changes are in line with the brand's present design language. Furthermore, the GT continues to be bigger than the 3 Series sedan and offers more space inside. But does it continue to impress by being more practical than the standard sedan? We find out.
How is it on the inside?
The changes inside the cabin are not easy to spot. Except for a new gear selector and iDrive controller, most of the ergonomic driver-centric dashboard design in the new car is the same as its predecessor. This latest iteration remains the biggest of all the 3 Series. The overall fit and finish of the interior is still great. On closer inspection, you will notice that the new upholstery in this Luxury trim looks classier. The driver and passenger can get very comfortable thanks to the electrically adjustable seats with memory function. However, it's the second row which gets better head and legroom thanks to the 2,920mm long wheelbase. There is considerably more space for rear occupants than in a standard 3 Series. Sure, the presence of the high transmission tunnel still means limited legroom for the third person sitting in the middle. But if there are only two passengers, then they will be really comfortable in these well-supported, nicely reclining seats. Added to that, the panoramic glass roof makes the cabin feel roomier.
Even if the visibility is good, it can be hard to judge this long car's dimensions while parking. So, BMW has equipped it with a rear view camera and parking sensors which make it easy to slot the car even in a tight spot. The car is generously packed with equipment like dual zone automatic climate control, automatic headlamps, rain sensing wipers etc. There is the iDrive infotainment system with an 8.8-inch screen displaying infotainment and vehicle information clearly. The BMW apps are easy to use with the iDrive controller and the 20GB on-board storage ensures endless entertainment through its nine-speaker music system during long road trips. ISOFIX child-seat mounts are standard and the car's safety quotient is enhanced with 8 airbags, ABS, EBD, brake assist, traction control and ESP. There are lots of useful storage spaces too, like a large glove-box, a pair of cup-holders in the center console and decent-sized door bins to hold big bottles. Still, the main USP is the 520litre boot, which even with the space saver inside can hold four bags easily. Since the tail gate opens like a notchback, the larger boot opening makes loading of luggage easier. Plus, you can fold the rear seat into the boot by just pulling the levers to make for more space inside with a flat bed.
How does it drive?
This 3 Series GT facelift continues to be powered by the famed 2.0-litre turbo-charged diesel engine. This inline four-cylinder unit churns out a maximum power of 187bhp at 4,000rpm and a peak torque of 400Nm available from 1,750rpm. The brand's eight-speed automatic gearbox is the only transmission on offer. Tap the push button to start and you will not be greeted by a growl or a burble. This is a good thing as the engine is also surprisingly silent despite being a diesel unit. Excellent cabin insulation cuts the noise down even further. The free-revving unit has a linear power delivery and on the run, be it the city or highways, there is loads of torque on tap to keep the car going. The engine responds to the throttle inputs nicely with the gearbox feeling at home in both automatic and manual mode. The gear shifts are quick and predictable thus giving you the option of manually shifting too, through paddle shifters or the tip-tronic function.
And as experienced with the 320d, this engine is also very fuel efficient, confirming why this oil-burner is still so popular with buyers. The ECO PRO and Comfort driving modes are mapped in such a way that they help improve efficiency with quicker upshifts and delayed downshifts. The car still boasts of the thrilling performance numbers that GTs are known for. The claimed top speed of the car is 226kmph and on our tests, the vehicle sprinted from standstill to 100kmph in 7.8 seconds.
Now BMWs in general are known for their ride and handling and the GT also scores high in the dynamics department. As rapidly as the car reaches top speeds, so also does its four disc brakes help the car cut speeds quickly and stop confidently. Switch to the Sport or Sport + mode for a sharper throttle response and reduced steering assist to get a more connected feel. The latter mode also allows the brave-hearted to get ambitious, switch off the ESP and bring the tail out on occasions. The direct and communicative steering weighs up nicely as the rear-wheel drive chassis lets the GT take the corners fast, keeping the driver involved. However, unlike the sedan, the GT rolls more around tight bends. Still, its pliant suspension does cushion the occupants from the worst of Indian roads. However, it does tend to pitch or wallow over crests and joints on the highway. Sure, the sharper ruts and edges of potholes send a jolt through the cabin at high speeds, but the comfort mode takes these in its stride in a better way than the sport modes. Similarly, the increased 165mm ground clearance does not give enough reassurance to coast over big bumps confidently, but it sure helps the car glide over small ones with ease.
Should I buy one?
BMW has blended the sporty and fun dynamics of driving the 3 Series sedan with all the practicality of touring in the GT. So, since it is priced at only Rs 3.8 lakh more than the regular 3 series does it make for an exciting option to consider it over the 3? Yes, even if it’s not a sleeker and sportier alternative to the 3 Series, it's surely a more spacious and comfortable take on the 3 Series sedan. So if you are looking for a spacious, practical and fun-to-drive family car, you have every reason to consider the GT over the mainstream family saloons in the market. Then you will also have a car with a unique shape, which is different from the conventional sedans.
Where does it fit in?
At Rs 46.5 lakh (ex-showroom Delhi), the GT sits one segment above the 3 Series and even the C Class. It still sits lower than the E-Class or the Audi A6 available in the Indian market. So for now, the 3 Series GT has no real rivals here in our country.
Pictures by Kapil Angane