BMW’s 3 series is a sedan you would enjoy the most behind the wheel rather than from the rear seat. It’s a car in which you would want to take corners faster than you normally do – in other words, a genuine driver’s car. But what if you fancied a more practical 3, say with improved rear seat comfort and boot space?
In that case, we suggest you look at the new 3 series Gran Turismo. Its cabin is spacious enough to put a 5 series to shame, and its boot is as big as the 5’s. How is that possible, you ask? Well, the new 3 GT has been spun out of an extended-wheelbase version of the 3 series (not sold in India), so it comes with its share of positives and negatives.
Let’s start with the good stuff. The 3 series has been in our market for some time now, and even though it looks good, it may not always turn heads. The 3 GT has an immediate solution to this. With its coupe-like pulled-back rear section and added length, it manages to grab a lot of attention. Then there is the wider, 11-slat chrome grille and headlights, neat alloy wheel design, softer bonnet counters, active rear spoiler, and those frameless doors that look quite unique.
Also unique to the 3 GT is its XL-size cabin. Step into this 3 and you’ll be surprised at the amount of carpet area on offer. The seats are supremely comfortable and rear legroom is commendable. Then there’s the boot release with predefined angles, which can be set according to the ceiling height, which opens up 520 litres of luggage space. The rest of it is like the regular 3, which also includes the diesel motor under the hood.
Available only in 320d Luxury Line trim for now, the 3 GT is propelled by a 4-cyl, 184bhp, 380Nm, 1,995cc twin-turbo diesel teamed with an 8-speed ’box that channels power to the rear wheels. The motor isn’t the perkiest, and with a claimed 0-100kph figure of 7.9sec, the 3 GT is no cannonball. But there’s adequate power for urban use, with the 8-speed ’box making good use of the power on tap. While Eco Pro mode is purely for chauffeur-driven occasions, Sport mode does spice things up a bit. Also, steering feel is among the best in the business – sharp, direct and responsive.
On the Gran Turismo, BMW has gone with a soft set-up. That, combined with the added length, does deprive the 3 GT of the 3’s sportiness, by a bit. There’s little body roll around corners, and it doesn’t feel as dynamic as the sedan. But this set-up also gives the 3 GT its supple ride, something you’ll appreciate on long drives – which this BMW is meant for and quite capable of.
So then. The 3 GT comes across as a practical choice over the 3 series. For around Rs 5 lakh more, at Rs 42.75 lakh (ex-showroom, Delhi), it sounds a bit expensive and gets closer to the 5’s pricing, but then, it offers more space, distinct looks and a comfortable ride. If you can live with a 3 that’s slightly less dynamic to drive, the 3 GT gets our thumbs up.
4-cyl, 1,995cc, twin-turbo diesel, 184bhp, 380Nm, 8A, RWD, 0-100kph in 7.9sec (claimed), 19.59kpl (claimed), Rs 42.75 lakh (ex-showroom, Delhi)
A 3 series with a touch of practicality. Loses the sedan’s driving edge, though.