Updates for the BMW 3 Series Gran Turismo focus on the engine - the 330i replaces the previous 328i model and scores the new 185kW/350Nm turbocharged 2.0 litre four cylinder engine used elsewhere in BMW's range.
The GT model is the hatchback version of the BMW 3 Series and as well as classy looks, the curvy rear delivers extra cargo space.
Some have labeled the GT a crossover - that’s stretching things a bit - and while the distinctive look and enhanced carrying capacity are plusses, adding $9,000 to the price tag of the 330i sedan is a big leap.
Vehicle Style: Prestige Medium Hatchback
Price: $78,900 (plus on-road charges)
Engine/trans: 185kW/350Nm 2.0-litre 4cyl turbo petrol | 8sp automatic
Fuel Economy Claimed: 6.2l/100kms | Tested: 8.4l/100kms
If you can’t pick any styling changes in the latest BMW 3 Series range update, don’t rush to Specsavers as this one’s all about engine, suspension, and some minor technology additions inside.
Slotting-in the latest turbocharged 2.0-litre engine with five kilowatts more power and improved fuel-efficiency gives the 330i a slight boost over the outgoing 328i but there are some other significant changes.
Across the range, the Adaptive M suspension with its driver-select variable damping and 10mm lowered ride height is now standard.
And inside the 330i picks-up a glass sunroof, BMW’s Navigation System Professional (with the latest iDrive5 technology), ambient lighting, high-gloss black trim highlights, some extra chrome accents and an electronic tailgate.
That’s on-top of a vehicle which boasts the expected BMW kit.
Our test car ran the Luxury Line package as a no-cost option (you can also opt for Sport - also at no cost), which brings 19-inch alloy wheels in Ferric Grey, a Sport leather-wrapped steering wheel and seats trimmed in Dakota leather
As usual with BMW, our test car came loaded with plenty of extras which lifted the sticker to $88,336.
Included were the Innovations Package which adds active cruise control, Harman/Kardon audio and BMW Parking Assistant as well as the Comfort package which includes a heated steering wheel and heated seats for both front and rear-seat occupants.
- Standard Features: Dakota leather seats (heated), head-up display, active cruise control, automatic tailgate, ambient lighting, high-gloss black and timber trim highlights
- Infotainment: 8.8-inch colour screen with iDrive5 rotary controller, Bluetooth connectivity, 20GB storage and DVD drive, DAB+ digital radio
- Options Fitted: BMW Individual Dakota Leather instrument panel ($1,600), Comfort Package ($1,730), ConnectedDrive Freedom ($429), Interior trim in Fine-wood Ash Grain with metal inlay and Pearl Chrome highlights ($240), Innovations Package ($3,500), Metallic paint ($1,937)
Highlighted by the Oyster coloured Dakota leather seats and the matching Dakota leather dashboard, our BMW 330i GT test car was certainly a looker on the inside.
And while the seats themselves were comfortable, our preference would be for the more supportive sports seats.
BMW’s latest iDrive5 system is a definite step-up with much easier use and improved functionality when scrolling through the various vehicle and infotainment menus. The 8.8-inch colour screen provides excellent images and graphics.
Those seated in the rear may be penalized a millimeter or two for headroom courtesy of the GT’s hatchback rear-end but unless you transport basketball players on a regular basis this is no deal-breaker.
And of course the hatchback rear delivers handy extra space - ‘tick’ our full-size golf bag test.
ON THE ROAD
- Engine: 185kW/350Nm turbocharged 2.0-litre four-cylinder
- Transmission: Eight-speed automatic, rear wheel drive
- Suspension: Double-joint spring strut (front), five-link independent (rear)
- Brakes: Four-wheel ventilated discs
- Steering: Electric power steering
Aside from a few nice inclusions inside, updates for the 3 Series centered on the new engine family and in that context the 330i is the big winner. Yes, five extra kilowatts isn’t a big deal (nor is a slight gain in fuel-efficiency) but nevertheless this version of the turbocharged 2.0-litre four-cylinder is a very handy tool.
Nail the throttle and there is plenty of urge, turbo lag is indiscernible and gear-changes from the eight-speeder are smooth and rapid. The downside is an exhaust note which isn’t exemplary.
Mechanical refinement is impressive and the cabin remains impressively quiet even when cracking the whip. Our one criticism on this front is tyre noise which is most noticeable on varying and coarse surfaces.
As for ride and handling - well this is a 3 Series BMW so you know it’s going to be taut and precise. And even in the sportier settings of the variable Adaptive M suspension, the 330i GT never rated too firm in our opinion.
Plus points for the electric power steering which was nicely weighted and also for the traditional BMW rear-drive balance.
Points deduction for those Luxury Line front seats - plenty of lateral grip and little body roll when hustling through corners exaggerated their lack of support.
ANCAP Rating: The BMW 3 Series GT has yet to be tested by ANCAP.
Safety Features: Six airbags, stability and traction control, ABS anti-lock brakes, reversing camera, active cruise control, lane departure warning
WARRANTY AND SERVICING
Warranty: Three years/unlimited kilometers
Servicing: Condition-based servicing (a dashboard indicator advises when servicing is required), BMW Service Inclusive capped-price servicing is available
RIVALS TO CONSIDER
Audi A5 Sportback should be on your list - specifically the TFSI Quattro at $76,910 (plus on-road charges) for the auto. Audi’s 2.0-litre turbo is a bit down on grunt compared to the BMW 330i (165kW for the Audi) but matches the torque figure at 350Nm. And of course there’s Audi’s Quattro all-wheel-drive to factor-in. Looks good inside and out.
Mercedes-Benz has the CLA Shooting Brake in contention - the 250 Sport at $67,400 with 160kW/350Nm and 4MATIC all-wheel-drive looks especially tasty. Not quite as spacious in the rear as the BMW 330i GT but certainly as looker with those coupe lines and frameless doors.
TMR VERDICT | OVERALL
On the basis that the BMW 3 Series hits the sweet spot on many fronts (especially driving dynamics) it’s a logical extension that the GT version - with its extra practicality thanks to that handsome hatchback rear - does the same.
And yep, that new engine is engaging in the twisty stuff and spot-on for weekday commutes.
If you’re in the buying window, just find a comfy chair when it’s time to consider the options... it’s not going to be a quick job.