BMW 3 Series Gran Turismo – it’s an all-new variant, but who’s it for? (w/VIDEO)

There’s a growing sense in some quarters that car makers have got ‘niche fever’, and they’ve got it bad. In a bid to differentiate their brands, and flex their production line muscles, there are now niches within niches all aimed at delivering a more personalised product to discriminating buyers.

Some of this stems from the differing tastes of a US vs European audience, such as Mercedes releasing a CLA (rather than A-Class) in the US because Americans prefer sedans over hatchbacks (or Estates).

So where does a hatchback/liftback variant of a hugely popular saloon fit within this niche war? After all, with its frameless windows, coupé-like profile and sloping roofline it could almost pass itself off as one of those 4-door coupés. But that’s another niche.

BMW-3Series-GT_G13

You’ll notice the more upright nose treatment when compared to a 3 Series saloon and the side gills, which were first seen on last month’s 4 Series coupé concept, but while it might look 3 Series sized, it’s closer to a 5 Series once you get the tape measure (and scales) out.

At 4824mm in length, 1828mm wide and 1508mm tall it’s a full 200mm longer than a 3 Series Touring, 81mm taller and 17mm wider. But it’s only 70mm shorter than a 5 Series and ‘just’ 45kg lighter.

In fact, that’s the slightly disquieting thing about the new 3 GT – it’s a full 130kg -140kg heavier than the equivalent Saloon of 70kg more than the Touring, so you pay the price for choosing a liftback/hatchback 3 Series.

BMW-3Series-GT_G9

Passengers in the 3 GT enjoy a seating position that is 59 mm (2.3″) higher than the saloon, with more generous headroom and 70mm more rear legroom compared to the Touring and Saloon – placing it midway between the 5 Series and 7 Series.

Due to a 110mm longer wheelbase, rear luggage capacity is also up by 25 litres over the Touring (to 520 litres).

In the US, BMW will be offering just the 242bhp 328i and a 302bhp 335i, while in Europe we’ll also receive the 181bhp 320i, 141bhp 318d and 181bhp 320d.

As with other 3 Series variants there are three equipment lines available – Sport Line, Luxury Line and Modern Line plus the distinctive aerodynamic package of M Sport models.

BMW-3Series-GT_G14Note the //M Badge near the front wheel arch – so the ‘boy racers’ have been setting the trend all along..

There are numerous detail changes over the saloon and touring, most notably the ‘active’ rear spoiler – a first for BMW – which rises at 68mph and retracts again at 43mph. Its purpose is true to the function of a ‘spoiler’, to reduce rear lift (by more than 35 percent) rather than adding downforce.

Other notable features include ‘Air Breathers’ (those gills just behind the front wheel arches), which divert part of the airflow into the wheel arches, thereby reducing air resistance. The join the existing car’s ‘Air Curtains’ which reduce turbulence – and therefore drag – around the front wheels.

All the usual BMW ConnectedDrive gadgets are available, including head-up display, blind spot and lane departure warning, anti-dazzle high-beam assistant with adaptive headlights, surround view parking, active cruise control and automatic collision notification.

BMW-3Series-GT_G21

So, what we have with the 3 GT is a bigger, heavier, more spacious 3 Series close to the size of a 5 Series, but lower in the pecking order. We’d need to see one parked next to its sibling, but in the status conscious company car park there’s a danger of being ‘stuck in the middle’.

We’re not sure who the 3 GT is aimed at, but if it floats your boat we’d love to hear from you in the comments below.

Pricing

Despite its extended functionality, the new 3 Series Gran Turismo carries a price premium of around £1,300 over the Touring model, starting with the 320i SE at £27,880.

Model

PowerHp

Torque  
Nm

0 – 62mph Seconds

Top Speed Mph

Combined
Mpg

CO2 Emissions g/km

OTR Price
£

320i  SE Gran Turismo

184

270

7.9

143
(142)

42.8 (45.6)

153 (145)

£28,830

328i  SE Gran Turismo

245

350

6.1

155*

42.2 (44.1)

156
(149)

£32,030

335i  Modern Gran Turismo

305

400

5.7 (5.4)

155*

34.9
(36.7)

188 (178)

£38,470

318d  SE Gran Turismo

   143

320

9.7 (9.6)

130

62.8
(58.9)

119 (127)

£29,910

320d  SE Gran Turismo

   184

380

8.0 (7.9)

143
(140)

57.6

129

£31,310

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