Full 2014 BMW 3 Series Gran Turismo Review
What's New for 2014
The 2014 BMW 3 Series Gran Turismo is an all-new model.
Let's say you really like the 3 Series sedan but, gosh, it's just not practical enough for your active lifestyle. You want other BMW options. OK, how about an X1? "Too small," you say. An X3 or 3 Series wagon? "Don't like wagons. And all my friends have X3s. Don't like joining herds." OK, how about an X5 or 5 Series Gran Turismo? "Too expensive," you say. Now, in years past, your hypothetical vehicle quest could have ended here. But cry not onto your plate of schnitzel, as BMW now has another option for you: the all-new 2014 BMW 3 Series Gran Turismo.
The 3 Series Gran Turismo follows the format of its bigger brother, the 5 Series Gran Turismo. In this case, that means the 3 GT is a longer 3 Series with a hatchback body style. The extra length opens up more rear-seat legroom and luggage space, while the hatchback (it's a traditional one-piece hatch, by the way, rather than a complex two-piece design like on the 5 Series GT) makes it easy to load bulky cargo items. The mainstay 3 Series engines are offered, all-wheel drive comes standard, and you get the same collection of features and impressive design as you get with the 3 sedan.
Basically, it's a 3 Series, but one that's quite family- and/or outdoorsy-person friendly. And that alone is pretty appealing. But it does come with some fine-print side effects. The GT's sloping, coupelike roof line cuts down on rear-seat headroom and total cargo capacity, and the car's larger size and heavier weight means it doesn't drive as sharply as a regular 3 Series sedan. And we'll say this: While BMW does many things well, styling hatchbacks to be beautiful isn't one of them.
So that leaves us with a rather odd duck of a BMW. Logic dictates that most people are going to be happier with a traditional wagon or small crossover SUV. But if you've read this far in our review of the 2014 BMW 3 Series GT, chances are you won't really care. And really, BMW knows this. This is a niche-oriented model meant to appeal to the desires of the few over the needs of the many. And for them, we think the 3 GT will work out quite well.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The 2014 BMW 3 Series Gran Turismo is available in two main trim levels: 328i xDrive and 335i xDrive.
The 328i xDrive Gran Turismo hatchback comes standard with 17-inch alloy wheels, automatic headlights, foglights, automatic wipers, a power liftgate, cruise control, dual-zone automatic climate control, eight-way power-adjustable front seats, driver memory functions, leatherette premium vinyl upholstery, a leather-wrapped tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, a trip computer, Bluetooth phone connectivity, the iDrive electronics interface with a 6.5-inch display, and a premium sound system with a CD player, HD radio, an auxiliary audio jack and an iPod/USB audio interface.
The 335i xDrive Gran Turismo is equipped similarly but has 18-inch wheels and adaptive xenon headlights. Both are options for the 328i.
BMW offers three optional equipment lines (Luxury, Sport and M Sport) to help customize your 3 GT; they include different wheel designs, color schemes, trim types, seats and steering wheels.
Beyond that, the Premium package is your ticket to leather upholstery, keyless ignition/entry, four-way power lumbar adjustment for the front seats and satellite radio. Going with the Technology package gets you Bluetooth audio connectivity, a navigation system (with 20GB available for personal music storage), a higher-resolution 8.8-inch display, BMW Apps (smartphone app integration), BMW Remote Services and a head-up display.
For safer driving, the Driver Assistance package provides a rearview camera and front and rear parking sensors. If that's not enough help, you can also purchase the Driver Assistance Plus package that adds blind-spot monitoring; a top-down parking camera system; lane-departure and frontal-collision warnings; and a speed limit info display.
The Cold Weather package features front and rear heated seats plus a heated steering wheel. Finally, the Dynamic Handling package bundles variable-ratio steering with adaptive suspension dampers. Adaptive cruise control, an automated parallel parking system and an upgraded 16-speaker Harman Kardon surround-sound audio system are the major stand-alone options.
Powertrains and Performance
The 2014 BMW 328i Gran Turismo comes with a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine rated at 240 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque. The more powerful 335i has a 3.0-liter inline six-cylinder engine rated at 300 hp and 300 lb-ft of torque.
For both models, an eight-speed automatic transmission is standard, as are all-wheel drive and an automatic stop-start function that turns off the engine when the car stops in order to save fuel. The 328i has an EPA estimate of 26 mpg combined (22 mpg city/33 mpg highway), while the 335i GT drops a bit to 24 mpg combined (20 city/30 highway).
Every 2014 BMW 3 Series GT comes standard with antilock brakes, traction and stability control, front side airbags, side curtain airbags and front knee airbags.
The stability control system integrates several features designed to improve braking performance, such as periodically wiping the brake rotors dry when the windshield wipers are in use and automatically snugging the pads to the rotors when the driver abruptly lifts off the throttle. BMW Assist emergency communications is standard and includes automatic crash notification, stolen vehicle recovery and on-demand roadside assistance. A visit to the options list will provide parking sensors (front and rear), rearview and top-down cameras, blind-spot monitoring, a lane departure warning system, frontal collision warning and an automated parking system.
Interior Design and Special Features
The Gran Turismo might be new, but the cabin is all 3 Series, with a classy design and premium materials. The company's classic analog gauges provide a historical link with BMWs of previous decades, while the Luxury, Sport and M Sport give you plenty of leeway to customize the cabin to your taste. The front seats are mounted higher than they are in the sedan and wagon, and that gives you slightly better sight lines to the road ahead.
In terms of technology, the basic 6.5-inch display screen is adequate, but you'll want to get the larger, optional screen for a true, luxury electronics interface. This year's iDrive system has been updated slightly, with the most noticeable change being a touchpad on top of the controller that can be used to hand write inputs using your finger. Overall, iDrive is pretty easy to use, thanks to straightforward menus, crisp graphics and quick processing times. But compared to some rival systems, it typically requires a few more twirls and clicks to get what you want.
The Gran Turismo's real specialty lies in the back half of the interior. Its wheelbase (the distance between the front and rear wheels) is longer than those of the 3 sedan or wagon, and that translates into additional rear-seat and luggage space. There's plenty of rear legroom (BMW likes to claim it's more than what's available in the 5 Series sedan), decent headroom and, in general, a more open and relaxed feel than you'd expect for this class of car.
When it's time to haul the goods, the high-opening liftgate makes it pretty easy to load and unload various pieces of cargo. The folding rear seats are split 40/20/40 to enhance versatility. There are 18.4 cubic feet of luggage space available, which is more than your typical small sedan or wagon, though that spec is a little misleading, as you'll have to remove the two-piece parcel shelf to fully utilize that space. Total cargo space is 56.5 cubic feet; that's competitive with wagons, but less than the typical small crossover SUV.
The 2014 BMW 328i Gran Turismo's turbocharged four-cylinder engine provides a punchy power delivery and quick acceleration, and the quick-shifting eight-speed automatic is a great match. If your budget allows, though, the 335i xDrive35i will be hard to pass up, as its acceleration is truly impressive, while fuel economy is still quite good in normal driving. With either engine, the auto stop-start function can be an annoyance in heavy traffic because the engine doesn't restart as quickly or smoothly as we'd like when transitioning between the brake pedal and the gas (fortunately, you can manually disable this feature).
The GT's ride is smooth and quiet, no matter which wheels and tires you choose, so the car is a natural candidate for road trips. But know that its emphasis on practicality does exact a toll: This is a bigger and significantly heavier car than the regular 3 Series sedan, and when driven around turns, it largely lacks the light, energetic feel typically associated with BMW's small vehicles.