BMW 320d GRAN TURISMO REVIEW
Vehicle Style: 5 door hatchback
Price: $71,800 (plus on-roads) | $79,450 (as tested)
Engine/trans: 135kw/380Nm 2.0 litre turbodiesel | 8spd auto
Fuel Economy claimed: 6.2 l/100km | tested: 6.4 l/100km
BMW’s strategies for finding niches-within-niches, were, until a year or two ago, carried most visibly on the ample shoulders and bullish style of the the very out-there X6.
When the same idea was applied to the smaller 3 Series, we have to admit to raising the eyebrows.
What’s the point, we asked? Why not just get a Touring wagon? So we spent a week in a 3 Series GT to find out.
Quality: BMW interiors may not be the prettiest or always of the best materials (the leather in 1s and 3s is particularly unbending), but you cannot argue with the way they are put together.
The GT’s interior is lifted straight from the 3 Series sedan and Touring, although the rear seats are slightly differently shaped for a more lounge-like feel.
Comfort: The front seats are electric with memory function and all chairs are trimmed in leather of a particularly hard kind only BMW knows how to get.
The Sport Line picks up different front seats, which are hugely better than the standard seats. They feature electrical adjustment in all directions, including bolsters that can be tightened to hold you in.
Rear-seat accommodation is simply awesome for a car of this size.
Based on the long wheelbase version of the 3 Series sedan sold only in China, legroom for rear passengers is 7 Series-sized.
Headroom isn’t quite as improved over the standard 3 Series, but still very good.
Equipment: Our GT was the Sport Line variant, the no-cost option which changes the look and feel (chiefly by ditching the fake wood on the dashboard, console and doors).
Standard equipment includes dual-zone climate control, 6.5-inch screen, iDrive, bluetooth, leather wheel and shifter, wheel-mounted paddles, sat-nav, cruise control and USB for phones.
Our car was also equipped with the panoramic roof ($3000), metallic paint (an extremely cheeky $1840), Bi-Xenon headlights ($2,050) and a $400 trim option to add fine brushed aluminium and red coral accent lines.
Storage: The GT’s extra wheelbase and elongated tail mean the 500-litre load area expands to a whopping 1620-litres with the seat down.
There are two cupholders up front with a rubberised cover, a slot beneath the climate control, a shallow bin beneath the centre armrests which houses the USB port, bottle holders in all doors.
You'll also find seat pockets for rear passengers as well as the central armrest containing dual cupholders and a flap under which you can slip a small tablet or music player.
ON THE ROAD
Driveability: Despite extra weight and length, the GT is quite agile on road, helped by the extra torque of the diesel and the always-brilliant 8 speed ZF transmission.
With the car switched to ECO-PRO mode, things are very sluggish but thankfully much sharper in all other modes - this is typical BMW.
The ride can get a little lumpy in Sport mode, but nothing too upsetting.
It does tend to understeer more than the standard 3 but is otherwise indistinguishable.
Aficionados will detect the extra weight at the rear, but, while it has a rapid turn of speed, it’s not really a car that you’d buy to hustle. (More 'sporting style' than outright 'sports'.)
Refinement: With the exception of the car shaking when waking from stop/start, the diesel 3 is a quiet machine, both in traffic and cruise.
Once the speed piles on a bit, the Continental run-flats can make a bit of a racket, but are far better than previous tyre constructions littered through BMW’s model line-up.
Ride and Handling: The longer wheelbase of the GT markedly improves the ride of the Sport Line over the sedan and Touring. The higher profile of the tyres fitted to the GT deliver a softer ride again and better insulate the car from the road.
It has a proper long-legged 'Grand Touring' feel befitting the name, swallows country kilometres effortlessly and is untroubled by hills.
Braking: As with all BMWs, the brakes are excellent, with good pedal feel and deal perfectly well with repeated big stops.
ANCAP rating: 5/5 Stars - this model scored 36.76 out of 37.
Safety features: ABS, cornering brake control, dynamic stability and traction control, six airbags and occupant detection.
WARRANTY AND SERVICING
Warranty: 3 years/100,000km
Service costs: BMWs operate on an as-needed basis, however service plans are available and have recently been reduced in price.
HOW IT COMPARES | VALUE FOR MONEY
Jaguar XF Luxury X250 ($69,900) - The XF is on the run downhill into a comfortable middle-age, but remains a beautiful car inside and out.
The 147kW/440Nm diesel is more muscular than the Beemer and uses the same eight-speed transmission, but the car is rather heavier than the 3, which also shows in the handling. And there isn’t nearly as much room in the rear.
The Jaguar also misses out on adaptive suspension but does have bi-Xenon headlights as standard. (see XF reviews)
Audi A5 ($68,690) - The Audi’s 2.0 litre TDI produces similar power outputs to the GT but has the same trouble as the XF - less room than the GT.
The A5 is less expensive, looks terrific and, like the BMW, has an unimaginably long option list. (see A5 reviews)
BMW 318d Touring ($60,300) - As the GT is most likely competing with the Touring, it’s worth examining the difference.
The Touring carries the same powertrain (although less powerful) and is built on the shorter wheelbase, so has less rear legroom.
Storage is barely more than the sedan (seats up), but it does have the dynamic edge over the GT. (see 3 Series reviews)
Note: all prices are Manufacturer’s List Price and do not include dealer delivery or on-road costs.
TMR VERDICT | OVERALL
The 320d GT isn’t an obvious contender for your money, but if you want something with some more sporting style than the Tourer, it’s worth checking the GT out.
It has more space for lanky teenagers, a well-shaped and massive boot while still carrying the badge and the technology.
The swoopy styling may not be to everyone’s taste, although it’s rather more successful than its 5 Series equivalent.
It is however, through and through, yet another compelling driver's car from BMW. Just like the car on which it’s based.
Pricing (excludes on-road costs)
- 320i Gran Turismo - $69,500
- 320d Gran Turismo - $71,800
- 328i Gran Turismo - $76,500