First Drive: 2014 BMW 3 Series Gran Turismo By Henny Hemmes
Henny at speed in 2014 BMW 3
Series Gran Turismo
By Henny Hemmes
Senior European Editor
The Auto Channel
SICILY, Italy. March 17, 2013. Two weeks ago, at the Geneva auto
show, BMW unveiled the third variant of the 3 Series. The F35 3 Series Gran
Turismo, is a new “space wonder” which will be sold worldwide,
but BMW is aiming this new model directly at the American and Chinese
markets, where no love has been lost for station wagons.
With the introduction of this brand new BMW model in the premium
mid-size segment which offers more space than a Touring, generates new
opportunities for the Bavarian brand. The Gran Turismo is based on the 3
Series LWB that is built in China for the Chinese market and has a wheel
base of 115 inches, 4.3inches longer than that of the other two siblings.
The GT’s length of 189.9 inches and height of 59.4 inches
exceeds that of the Touring by respectively 7.9 and 3.2 inches. The
passengers in the back especially benefit from the extra inches with 2.6
in. more leg room and 3.2 in. more head room than in the estate model. Indeed the new model does offers a lot of room,
in fact in a personal test, my colleague Jens Meiners and I sat in the
back to see-and-feel if tall people will have a knee problem…and
there was no knee problem.
Since the body of the GT sits about an inch higher on its wheels,
all occupants of the GT are seated 2.3in higher. Add to this the fact that
the load area has the same volume as that of the 5 Series Sedan, which is
0.9 cu-ft. more than in the Touring, and you will agree that the 3 GT is
The back rests of the 40-20-40 split back seats can be adjusted in
15 stages over 19 degrees up to a vertical position,
offering a maximum of
1.23 cu-ft extra load capacity.
By folding the rear seats down, the
compartment can be ‘extended’ to 56.50 cu-ft. The tailgate can
remotely be opened and closed and is available with the hands-free Smart
opener, that allows the boot lid to be opened with a movement of the foot
under the rear bumper.
The new variant is a clever extension of the 3 Series model line and
aimed at customers that are looking for flexibility in the segment where
BMW now is the first manufacturer offering such a spacious model. The
Germans expect the GT to be bought by new customers from other brands, but
there will also be owners up-scaling from of the 3 Sedan and Touring, as
well as those, that want to downsize a bit from the 5 Series Sedan.
Especially in the business lease, where nowadays companies are not
admitting the ‘5’ anymore, the 3 GT offers an excellent
Of course, the question arises whether this model should have been
called 4 Series, purely by its size. When asked, Dr. Herbert Diess, BMW
AG’s Board member for development, said that this had been a point of
discussion in the Board, but decided against.
New to BMW is the retractable rear spoiler, which flips up
automatically above 68 mph to reduce lift on the rear axle. If the speed
slows to below 43 mph, the spoiler automatically retracts nearly invisible
in the large hatch. But it can also be manually retracted by pushing a
button in the driver’s door.
The Air Curtains, that we have seen earlier on BMW models, are now
combined with Air Breathers for an optimal air flow around the front tires.
The Air Breathers air ducts are placed rearwards of the front wheel arches
in the side of the body. They are a new styling element that will return in
future BMW models.
The 3 GT will be offered with a choice of three petrol engines and
two diesels. The 320i and 328i four-cylinder engines and the six-cylinder
335i, all with TwinPower Turbo twin-scroll turbo charging, direct injection
and Valvetronic, with power ranging from 143 hp to 306 hp. The two diesel
models are the 318d and 320d. The six-speed manual transmission is
standard, while the 8-speed automatic transmission will be available for
all engine variants. BMW will also offer the familiar lines: Sport, Luxury
and Modern Line, while the M Sport Package is available for all models.
During the first media drives, staged on the island of Sicily, I
drove the 3 Series 335i GT. The GT easily takes 5 people and quite a bit
of luggage while providing all occupants good comfort.
The high comfort
level of the 3 GT surprised me a bit. The agility of the sedan and touring
is somewhat compromised by a more comfortable set up. We already are
familiar with the driving modes Comfort, Normal, Sport and Sport+ and Eco
mode. Even in Sport+ the GT does not feel as firm as the other models, but
we realize the weight of the GT and the higher center of gravity
undoubtedly are of influence here as well.
When I discussed this with the engineers, the answer was that the 3
Series GT was developed for people who travel longer distances, offering
them more comfort. Well maybe our test drive on the winding roads of the
island may not have been the ideal test course either, so I will take the 3
GT for test drives soon in a ‘flatter’ area, either at home in
flat-flat The Netherlands, or in Michigan and report back to you.
The 3 GT steering is somewhat vague on the straight end, and also
has some resistance, but when entering a corner you can precisely steer the
big car through. There is a little tendency to under-steer, but that was
The 6-cylinder in the 335i is also a familiar power plant, which
shows its capabilities with ease and grace. The 306 hp strong 335i
accelerates really fast out of tight corners, and not to forget from a
stand still to 62 mph in only 5.4 seconds, provided the engine is combined
with the 8-speed automatic transmission, which, by the way. is available
for all models. With the standard six-speed manual, it takes 0.3 seconds
extra. Nevertheless, the fuel consumption of around 30 mph (EU cycle) is
absolutely not bad at all, thanks to the EfficientDynamic measures that BMW
applies to its models.
The interior offers a well-known environment with good seating,
ergonomics, and good visibility around the car, even with the fat C-pillar.
I especially like the full-color HUD, head up display and the other systems
such as Lane keeping assist.
The 3 Series GT will celebrate its North American debut at the New
York International Auto Show, which opens its doors for the media March 27.
It will arrive on markets world wide in mid June and is expected to reach
the North American market early September. Here we will get the 328i and
335i and possibly later the 320i. All versions will be available with
Engine 6-cyl TwinPower turbo technology, TwinScroll, direct injection
Power 306 hp at 5800 rpm
Torque 295 lb-ft at 1200-5000 rpm
Transmission 8-speed automatic
Kerb weight 3803 lbs
L/w/h 189.9/71.96/59.37 inches
Wheel base 150.8 in.