2014 BMW 328i xDrive Gran Turismo Hatchback (2.0L 4-cyl. Turbo AWD 8-speed Automatic)
Driven On 2/18/2014
A BMW 3 Series with more rear leg room and vastly improved cargo capacity? The Gran Turismo sounds like a good idea to us, especially when the outcome is an all-wheel-drive hatchback that performs with the precision of a 3 Series. The turbo 4-cylinder delivers respectable fuel economy, but there is a decided lack of standard features and the look is polarizing.
PerformanceDon't let the Gran Turismo's 4.4-inch-longer wheelbase (vs. the 3 Series sedan) or hatchback bodystyle fool you. This is still a true performance machine. It's a joy to drive with plenty of seat-of-the-pants feel and unparalleled confidence.
The 240-horsepower 2.0-liter turbocharged engine scoots the 328i to 60 mph in 5.9 sec. But it's the instant-on low-end torque that makes this engine terrific. The 8-speed automatic is smooth, and smart. Holds gears nicely when it needs to.
The 328i GT stopped from 60 mph in 122 feet in our panic-brake test. We found the brakes to be predictably linear and highly effective, with no detectable fade after hard driving and no grabbiness in daily driving.
Excellent feedback through the wheel with ample weighting. Not as precise as the old hydraulic setup, but it's darn good as far as electric-assist systems go. This car goes exactly where you point it.
Partially due to our test car's optional adaptive suspension system, this station-wagon-crossover-AWD-thing still acts like a BMW. It's nimble and willing on backroads, but forgiving and easy to drive on long highway slogs.
Start/stop system is more intrusive than others and can shut off too quickly, like when turning right on red. Gas pedal can be lurchy in Sport mode; Comfort mode replaces this with dullness. Cruise control is fantastic at holding set speed.
ComfortEspecially with our test car's optional adaptive shock absorbers, the Gran Turismo deftly balances between comfort and driving performance. It's remarkably quiet, too.
The optional front sport seats are have firm cushions, but seatback bolstering is super and leather is grippy. Front armrests have good padding, are positioned well. Rear seats are even firmer than the fronts, seatback angle is overly upright.
With the hard sidewalls of run-flat tires, no one will call the 328i GT cushy. But the optional Adaptive M Suspension helps greatly. Smaller ripples can find their way into the cabin, but the big hits stay out.
Other than tire flap over expansion joints, this is a truly quiet car with nearly zero wind noise. Engine makes typical turbo woosh and isn't as smooth as a 6 cylinder. At higher speeds some engine noise does creep into the cabin.
InteriorAdmirable materials, thoughtful, if plain, design and overall usability earn this car top scores. The small interior cubbies and bins could be of some concern, but the Gran Turismo makes up for this with giant cargo capacity. q
Well-organized controls are easy to use and iDrive infotainment system is actually intuitive. The dual-zone climate control has simple dials and buttons and in typical BMW fashion, everything is easy for the driver to reach.
The front doors open wide and no worries about hitting head on roof. Nothing to hang feet up on, either. Rear doors are small but open nearly 90 degrees. The entryway isn't large, so you have to duck more to get in/out.
More than adequate front head room and door-side elbow room. Rear seat head room is tight, but the GT has 4.1 inches more rear leg room than 3 Series sedan.
Windshield pillars get thick toward the bottom. Driver's left-side over-the-shoulder lane-check is problematic, as is a big rear three-quarter blind spot. Does not come with a standard backup camera, or even parking sonar.
Tiny front bin, small center bin, cupholders lack anti-tip features. Helpful pull handles in trunk to drop the rear seat. The 25.0 cu-ft trunk (vs. 13.0 cu-ft for 3 Series sedan) is narrow but deep, with a perfect loading height. Hatch opens high.
ValueThe 328i xDrive Gran Turismo's base price of $42,375 (including $925 dest.) means you're paying about a $2,000 premium versus a 328i xDrive sedan. It comes up short in features compared to rivals, but in terms of quality and performance, few can compete.
Build Quality (vs. $)
Solidly built with excellent materials and precise engineering. No gimmicks. After a decade, iDrive is finally clean, fast and simple enough to be a benefit. We did notice one occasional dash rattle.
Standard features include all-wheel drive, Bluetooth, sunroof, an 8-way power driver's seat and split/folding rear seats. Notably lacking at its $42,375 price: a backup camera, parking sonar and a navigation system.
Our car had five opt. packages, driving the price to $55,500. Options included navigation, adaptive suspension, heated seats at all four corners and a fantastic-sounding Harman Kardon audio system. Backup camera would cost a further $950.
The EPA rates the 328i xDrive GT at 26 mpg Combined (22 City/33 Highway). We averaged 26.4 mpg overall, including 27.1 mpg on the 116-mile Edmunds evaluation loop.
BMW's basic and drivetrain warranties cover the car for 4 years/50,000 miles.
Free scheduled maintenance for 4 years/50,000 miles includes oil services, wiper blades, brakes, belts and fluids. There's also a 4-year/unlimited miles roadside assistance program.
Fun To DriveImpressive power, sharp handling and communicative steering combine to instill a high level of driver confidence. Don't worry, enthusiasts, this larger Gran Turismo still drives pretty much like a 3 Series.
Even though the Gran Turismo has a 4.4-inch longer wheelbase than the 3 Series sedan, it begs to be driven, balancing comfort, performance and utility to near perfection.
Yes, the 3 Series GT is more useful than a regular sedan, but ultimately it proves its worth from behind the wheel. Our test car's thick steering wheel, throttle-blipping paddle shifters and handling dynamics spice things up.
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