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Becoming parents is a life-changing experience and affects all aspects of everyday living. This includes car-buying decisions, where boot capacity counts more than engine capacity and sporty sedans make way for cumbersome SUVs. This need not be the case as BMW may just have built the perfect family 3 Series in the form of the GT (for a full road test of the pre-facelift version, please click here).
Take a standard 3 Series and stretch the wheelbase by 110 mm to increase rear legroom. Raise the ride height and seating position for a better view of the road. Lastly, add a sloping roofline to mimic the appearance of a grand tourer and, in the process, eliminate the boot and provide a hatch for easy access to the cavernous rear luggage area. All these changes make the 3 Series more family friendly.
The two letters GT did BMW no favours in the 5 Series version as it appeared awkward, to say the least. This is fortunately not the case with the 3 Series GT and with the latest updates (see the details here) it is quite a looker, especially so in the “Estoril Blue” hue of our test car.
The GT shares most of its interior with its standard 3 Series sibling and although the quality, fit and finish is of a high standard, the design is now a couple of years old and lacks the flair of some competitors. But at least the infotainment system is easy to use.
The 320d is powered by a new generation 2,0-litre, four-cylinder turbodiesel engine delivering 140 kW and 400 N.m. It is quite a noisy unit and you are always aware of the diesel nature during slow-speed driving. But the performance is more than adequate in combination with the eight-speed automatic transmission. The claimed fuel consumption figure of 4,3 L/100 km is optimistic and I achieved a figure of 7,5 L/100 km during a weekend of mixed cycle driving. I am sure the figure would drop during long-distance cruising.
Although the GT’s recipe is slightly different to the standard car on which it is based, the inherent dynamic ability still shines through. Yes, it is not quite as sharp as a 3 Series sedan, but it is much more rewarding to drive than any crossover or SUV when the road starts to snake (although the steering errs on the heavy side).
The GT is an interesting alternative to the 3 Series and definitely appeals to the family orientated buyer in a way the normal 3 Series doesn’t. If it is worth R50 000 over the standard 320d is debatable and second-hand value will probably suffer compared to the donor vehicle. But the fact that parents still have the option of a sedan over a bulky SUV is maybe enough reason to take the plunge.
Fast factsModel: BMW 320d GT auto
Price: R608 000
Engine: 2,0-litre, inline four, turbocharged diesel
Power: 140 kW at 4 000 r/min
Torque: 400 N.m at 1 750-2 500 r/min
0-100 km/h: 7,7 secs
Top Speed: 226 km/h
Fuel Consumption: 4,3 L/100 km
CO2: 113 g/km
Transmission: 8-spd auto
Maintenance Plan: 5 year/100 000 km