2014 BMW 328i xDrive Gran Turismo: Not Much Fun To Drive
June 26, 2014
Our 2014 BMW 328i xDrive Gran Turismo has many desirable attributes. It's practical. It's classy. It's also pretty quick when you give it the boot. But from the traditional 3 Series sedan standpoint, I don't find our GT particularly rewarding or enjoyable to drive.
The 3 Series has long offered balanced ride and handling with quick communicative steering that could provide you with a lot of driver confidence. It's been a car that could subtly encourage you to take the long way home, skipping the super-slab highway in favor of a curvy back road. Given that the Gran Turismo relies on that name heritage, it deserves a little more scrutiny than it would otherwise.
Now, our 328i GT is equipped to be just about as sporty as possible. It's got the M Sport styling package with 18-inch wheels. It also has the optional brake upgrade and the Dynamic Handling package, which includes adaptive suspension dampers and adaptive, variable-ratio steering.
Even so, I just don't get a feeling of sport or fun. Around town with the programmable drive mode set on Comfort (the default mode that the car picks every time you start the car) the suspension has plenty of softness to it. The steering is very light. Drive through a turn and you get, well, a squishy sense of comfortable. Press on a little harder and the tires squeal early, almost embarrassingly so. While it's obviously a lighter and different class of car, our long-term Mazda 3 is substantially more zippy and engaging.
Pirelli Cinturato P7: It could be Italian for "I have no grip."
My wife, who owns a first-generation BMW X3, recently drove the long-term Gran Turismo. She came home after driving it and said to me: "What's with your car? I don't get a feel of the road at all." Basically, she didn't care for the way the GT drove.
To clarify things for myself, I took it out on one of those curvy back roads. With the GT's drive mode set to Sport, the suspension does become firmer and the steering gains some heft and precision. It's more stable when in Sport, certainly. But I still didn't get much enjoyment from the drive. I drove back to the highway and I think both the car and I were happier.
Now, I will point out that what I've just written stands in direct contrast to what Mike Monticello wrote a few months ago with Drives Like a 3 Series. He said the car was "unexpected fun." Mike is also one of our performance test drivers and can school me on a race track. Does his opinion carry more weight? Probably.
So perhaps you can just consider what I've got here as a second opinion.
Brent Romans, Senior Automotive Editor @ 11,866 miles