In the past BMW’s model range may have been simple with saloons and estates of different sizes and the occasional sports car. The 2014 line up however, caters for every buyers’ whim. Looking for a saloon, estate, hatchback, convertible, off-roader, sports car, a sleek hatchback, a slightly less sleek hatchback with more space for rear passengers…? Whatever your needs it seems BMW has a car to suit.
What is it?
The 3 Series GT is one of the more unfathomable cars you’ll find in BMW showrooms. It is a slightly higher-riding hatchback version of the 3 Series saloon which offers a larger boot and a greater amount of space for rear passengers.
In terms of price the GT slots in above the 3 Series saloon and Touring (estate) models and below the 4 Series Coupe and Gran Coupe.
What is it like to drive?
The 330d tested here has a powerful 3.0-litre diesel engine under the bonnet which comes with BMW’s slick shifting eight-speed automatic gearbox as standard. With a hefty 258bhp and 560Nm on tap the 330d GT can zoom from a standstill to 62mph in just 5.7 seconds. The car feels suitably speedy on the road but still achieves an official economy figure of 55.4mpg, so visits to the petrol station should be infrequent.
The engine provides a good spread of power and pulls strongly from low revs meaning that you can leave the gearbox to do its own thing and you should always have power when you need it. Overtaking on country roads is as simple as a brief prod on the throttle. The gearbox is slick and quick to shift between cogs whether you’re driving gently or tackling corners at speed.
Refinement levels are very high too. The engine can sound a little grumbly around town, but at anything above 30mph engine noise is barely noticeable. Even at motorway speeds there’s little wind, road or tyre noise. It’s very smooth to boot, so you shouldn’t yearn for a petrol model.
The ride could be a little smoother at times though and the GT is not as fun to drive as a normal 3 Series. However, it has a lot of grip around bends and is more than engaging enough for most drivers. Even with its substantial power reserves traction is mostly good in the dry.
What is it like inside?
The 300d GT M Sport starts from £39,250
The front half of the 3 Series GT’s cabin feels pretty much identical to the standard saloon, with a wide central console and large sat nav screen on top of the dashboard. With lots of buttons strewn across the dashboard, the controls do take some getting used to. Even with a rotary dial located down by the gear shifter, you do have to trawl through several onscreen menus at times, which can be an irritation on the move.
The front seats in the top spec M Sport model we drove are very comfortable, providing good lower back support, but they also hold you well around tight bends. With a large panoramic glass roof, the interior is also very bright and provides a good feeling of space. Move around to the back seats and there is a huge amount of legroom available. Headroom is limited however – especially in the car we tested which had the glass roof fitted, meaning that anyone wanting to carry tall passengers in the back seats may want to consider the more conventionally shaped 3 Series Touring.
Is it practical?
The 3 Series GT has a very large boot with a hatchback, which makes loading large items much easier than with the 3 Series saloon. All models also get an electric opening tailgate for easy access.
Visibility is also slightly limited. Both front and rear pillars can feel quite large at times and the boot is quite high, making front and rear parking sensors very valuable. An overhead view system is also available.
Should I buy one?
The 3 Series GT is a good car, but doesn’t make much sense compared to BMW’s other 3 Series and 4 Series models. If you’re after the best value option the 3 Series saloon is the sensible choice. If you want practicality, you’ll probably be after better rear headroom that the GT offers, in which case there’s the 3 Series Touring which undercuts the GT by between £850 to £1,600 dependent on model.
Those after a sleek hatchback BMW would be better served by the pretty 4 Series Gran Coupe and if practicality isn’t a concern then BMW also sells the 4 Series Coupe. All of this means that the GT is a hard car to recommend, though it is undoubtedly a sophisticated and well-engineered machine, with a powerful and economical engine.
Don’t want to buy new? You can browse for a used BMW 3 Series in our classifieds here.
List price: £39,250
Engine: 3.0-litre, six cylinder, turbodiesel
Top Speed: 155mp
0-62mph 5.7 seconds
Fuel economy: 46.3mpg (urban), 61.4mpg (extra-urban), 55.4mpg (combined)
Euro NCAP rating: Five stars (3 Series saloon)