Used 2015 BMW 3 Series Gran Turismo Review

The 2015 BMW 3 Series GT is a niche-oriented model to be sure, but the appeal of a BMW 3 Series with an extra amount of practicality is undeniable.




what's new

Bluetooth audio streaming is now standard. The optional foot-activated trunk operation now includes power closing, and a driver inattention warning system is now included in optional Active Driving Assistant.

vehicle overview

Rather than trying to convince potential buyers that they need a particular car, what if an automobile manufacturer collected and examined the needs of those buyers and then designed and built the car that best satisfied that set of needs? This is the rationale behind BMW's GT models, and specifically the 2015 BMW 3 Series Gran Turismo. This unique entry-level luxury vehicle offers abundant room for four adult passengers (five in a pinch), the luggage capacity of a small wagon and the all-weather capability of a crossover SUV.

The 3 Series GT follows in the footsteps of its bigger brother, the 5 Series Gran Turismo. But rather than just changing the roof line of a 3 Series sedan or wagon, the 3 GT is truly longer between the front and rear wheels than either of those by a few inches. This extra length noticeably opens up more rear seat legroom and luggage space. Besides that, the hatchback's wide opening (a traditional one-piece hatch rather than the 5 GT's complex two-piece design) and reasonable floor height make it easy to load bulky cargo items. The mainstay 3 Series engines are offered, and you get the same collection of features and impressive interior design as you get with the 3 sedan.

All of these practical considerations may be enough to convince you, but there are a few more things to ponder. This version of the 3 Series is, indeed, larger and heavier, which means it doesn't drive as sharply as a regular 3 Series sedan. And while we're at it, we'll say this: BMW does many things well, but styling beautiful hatchbacks does not seem to be one of them.

What, then, might be this odd duck's competitors? There truly is nothing quite like the 3 Series GT, but BMW's own 3 Series Sports Wagon or the sleeker, but less practical BMW 4 Series Gran Coupe hatchback would be pretty good places to start. Like the 3 GT, all received an "A" rating from Edmunds editors. But one might look at wagons such as the Audi Allroad or the Volvo XC70, which have all-wheel drive, cost about the same and offer similar or perhaps even better rough-road ability.

Obviously, wagons aren't for everyone, and if that applies to you, perhaps this niche BMW could be an ideal alternative to an entry-level luxury sedan. Edmunds has also extensively tested our long-term 328i xDrive GT, and the experience has thus far earned it accolades for its versatility and long-distance capability.




trim levels & features

The 2015 BMW 3 Series Gran Turismo is a four-door five-passenger hatchback available in two main trim levels: 328i xDrive and 335i xDrive. The differing numbers signify their respective engines.

The 328i xDrive Gran Turismo hatchback comes standard with 17-inch alloy wheels, automatic headlights, foglights, automatic wipers, power-folding and auto-dimming mirrors, a panoramic sunroof, power liftgate, cruise control, dual-zone automatic climate control, eight-way power front seats, driver memory functions, "SensaTec" premium vinyl upholstery, a leather-wrapped tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, a 40/20/40-split-folding rear seat and an auto-dimming rearview mirror. Standard electronic features include Bluetooth phone and streaming audio connectivity, the iDrive electronics interface, a 6.5-inch display and a nine-speaker 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, adaptive xenon headlights and an alarm system. All three are options for the 328i.

BMW offers three optional equipment suites, or "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 and entry, four-way power lumbar adjustment for the front seats and satellite radio. The Technology package includes a voice-controlled hard-drive navigation system, an upgraded iDrive interface (with a higher-resolution 8.8-inch display and a touchpad controller), BMW Apps (smartphone app integration), BMW Remote Services emergency telematics and a head-up display.

The optional Driver Assistance package provides front and rear parking sensors and a rearview camera. If that's not enough help, you can also purchase the Driver Assistance Plus package, which adds blind spot monitoring, a top-down parking camera system, lane departure warning, frontal collision warning and mitigation (including pedestrians), a driver inattention warning system, a speed limit info display and a multiview parking camera system (available separately).

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. Stand-alone options include high-performance brakes, adaptive cruise control, an automated parallel parking system, a 16-speaker Harman Kardon surround-sound audio system and an enhanced keyless ignition and entry system that includes foot-activated trunk opening/closing.



performance & mpg

The 2015 BMW 328i Gran Turismo comes with a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine rated at 240 horsepower and 255 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 city/33 highway). We averaged 27 mpg on the Edmunds mixed-driving evaluation route. The 335i xDrive GT's fuel efficiency drops a bit, to 24 mpg combined (20/30).

In Edmunds performance testing, the 328i went from zero to 60 mph in 5.9 seconds. BMW estimates that the 335i would be about a second quicker.

safety

Every 2015 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 gas. BMW Assist emergency communications is standard and includes automatic crash notification, while BMW Remote Services (included with the Technology package) adds stolen vehicle recovery and remote door lock/unlock. Additional options include parking sensors (front and rear), rearview and top-down cameras, blind spot monitoring, a lane departure warning system, a driver inattention warning system and frontal collision warning with mitigation.

In Edmunds testing, a 328i xDrive Gran Turismo came to a stop from 60 mph in 122 feet, which is average for cars with all-season tires.

In government crash tests, the 2015 BMW 3 Series GT earned five stars out of a possible five for overall crash protection with four stars for frontal crash protection and five stars for side crash protection.

Driving

The 2015 BMW 328i Gran Turismo's turbocharged four-cylinder engine provides a punchy but even power delivery and quick acceleration. The quick-shifting eight-speed automatic is a great match because of its smoothness. 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.

Interior

The Gran Turismo's cabin design is all 3 Series, with a restrained look, standard wood trim 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 themes offer plenty of leeway to customize the cabin. Front seats mounted higher than they are in the sedan and wagon give the driver slightly better sight lines to the road ahead.

In terms of technology, the basic 6.5-inch display screen is adequate, but the larger, optional screen delivers a richer electronics interface. With that bigger screen comes a touchpad on top of the iDrive controller that's used to hand write inputs using your finger. Overall, iDrive is easy to use, thanks to crisp graphics and quick processing times. But compared with 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 is longer than that of the 3 sedan or wagon, and this translates into additional rear seat and luggage space. BMW likes to say that the 3 GT provides more rear legroom than what's available in the 5 Series sedan. Rear headroom is less impressive, though, as protrusions in the headliner (because of the hatchback hinges) can have even normal-size adults seated in the outboard positions rubbing their heads up against the headliner.

When it's time to haul the goods, though, the high-opening liftgate makes it pretty easy to load and unload various pieces of cargo, especially when optioned with the nifty foot-activated feature that both opens and closes the hatch if your hands are otherwise occupied. The 40/20/40-split folding rear seats enhance versatility. There are 18.4 cubic feet of luggage space available, which is more than in 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, which is numerically competitive with the 3 Series Sport Wagon, but the wagon's more squared-off roof line makes it more practical for carrying bulky objects or dogs. Most small crossover SUVs are better both on paper and in practice.

edmunds expert review process

This review was written by a member of Edmunds' editorial team of expert car reviewers. Our team drives every car you can buy. We put the vehicles through rigorous testing, evaluating how they drive and comparing them in detail to their competitors.

We're also regular people like you, so we pay attention to all the different ways people use their cars every day. We want to know if there's enough room for our families and our weekend gear and whether or not our favorite drink fits in the cupholder. Our editors want to help you make the best decision on a car that fits your life.