The news that BMW was planning another GT model must surely have brought a shudder to motoring fans around the world. Memories of the previous GT, the 5 Series, a monstrosity of a vehicle whose looks never really grew on anyone remain fresh. And now comes the 3 Series GT. And, admittedly, it’s not a bad looking vehicle at all…
Based obviously on the current 3 Series platform, the GT version nevertheless doesn’t share a single panel with its donor sibling. It’s wider, has a different headlight configuration and a larger grille depending on the package you opt for. There are also a few extra creases and air breathers on the flanks. Unlike the 5 GT the 3 somehow manages to pull off its bulkier 3 Series look with ease.
At the local launch I was able to sample the 328i version. It makes use of a turbocharged 2,0-litre petrol engine with a maximum output of 180 kW and with 350 N.m of torque available at 1 250 r/min. With so much torque available from low down, it was easy enough to pilot this relatively large (1 570 kg) vehicle around with some exuberance. While it’s mostly 3 Series, the size, mass and high centre of gravity dictates that, dynamically, it’s doesn’t quite match the 3 Series saloon for pinpoint sharpness. There’s some body-roll through corners and the steering is on the heavy side. Other than that though, it is a pleasant car to drive.
The really big deal with this vehicle is the amount of space it offers. There is additional headroom when compared with the regular 3 Series, as well as a generous amount of rear legroom (thanks to the 110 mm increased wheelbase). Despite the sloping roofline, there is no feeling of being cramped inside the cabin, while there’s ample luggage and utility space in all configurations.
Those who enjoy sitting above others in traffic will be pleased to hear that the seating position is high enough to give you the feeling that you’re piloting a small SUV. The models available to us at the launch boasted plenty of standard creature comforts, including a multifunction steering wheel, rain sensing wipers and automatic headlights, and well as climate control and intelligent cruise control. Options on my test unit included BMW’s Adaptive M suspension, variable sport steering, comfort access, an electrically-operated panorama sun roof, park distance control, lane departure warning, and Sat-nav.
Granted, there are fewer standard features than you would expect at a base price of R514 475, 40 but what is included feels well put-together and exudes typical Germanic flare for precision.
BMW believes the 3 Series GT offers the dynamic and sporting capabilities of the saloon, yet with more practicality and functionality. Yes, in other markets the 3 Series Touring version offers similar qualities but this model is still not as spacious as the GT. A valid argument or not we’re just happy that the 3 GT isn’t the assault on the senses that the 5 was upon its launch.
Model: BMW 328i GT (with Sport Automatic Steptronic)
Price: R514 475,40
Engine: 2,litre, 4-cylinder petrol
Power: 180 kW @ 5 000 r/min
Torque: 350 N.m @ 1 250 r/min
0-100 km/h: 6,1 seconds
Top speed: 250 km/h
Fuel consumption: 6,4 litres/100 km
CO2 emissions: 149 g/km