Used 2016 BMW 3 Series Gran Turismo Review

Edmunds expert review

The 2016 BMW 3 Series GT is a niche-oriented model, to be sure, but the appeal of a BMW 3 Series with an added degree of practicality is undeniable.




What's new for 2016

For 2016, all 3 Series Gran Turismo models get 18-inch wheels, an alarm system and satellite radio as standard, along with last year's Sport Line appearance package (including gloss black exterior trim, sport front seats and a sport steering wheel). The other two previous appearance packages, Luxury Line and M Sport Line, have been altered slightly and are now just called packages. For the 335i trim level, BMW has added standard keyless entry and ignition, plus power front lumbar adjustments and a Harman Kardon audio system. Finally, the self-parking system now has added perpendicular parking capability.

Vehicle overview

The 2016 BMW 3 Series Gran Turismo is one of the quirkier options among small luxury cars. It's not a crossover, but it has elevated seats and standard all-wheel drive. It's not a wagon, but its cargo capacity compares favorably to that of the actual 3 Series wagon. It's not a sedan, but it mostly handles like one. Could this oddball hatchback somehow be the best of all worlds?

The 2016 3 Series Gran Turismo has a visibly taller profile than the related 4 Series Gran Coupe, providing less sportiness but a much more versatile interior.

That would be a stretch, but the 3 Series GT certainly occupies an intriguing middle ground among sportiness, luxury and versatility. With strong turbocharged acceleration from either the 328i's four-cylinder engine or the 335i's inline-6, plus all-season traction and room for a family of four and their luggage, this BMW covers more bases than most affordable luxury vehicles. Of course, if you really want a crossover experience, there's the 3 Series-based X3, and if you really want the ultimate driving machine, the sharp-handling 328i wagon will get you closer. But you can't get the inline-6 in the wagon, and the Gran Turismo's stretched wheelbase results in the best legroom of the three.

This unusual vehicular mash-up does result in some unusual styling -- "sleek looking" is not going to be a bullet point on the 3 GT's résumé. Also, rear headroom and the ability to haul bulky items are lacking. If those are concerns, you might be better off with a regular luxury crossover like the X3, stylish Audi Q5 or roomy Volvo XC60. The dark-horse Infiniti QX50 is another interesting option considering its hatchback/crossover mash-up, burly V6 and potentially superior value. But for the right shopper, the 2016 BMW 3 Series Gran Turismo's appeal is undeniable.




Trim levels & features

The 2016 BMW 3 Series Gran Turismo is a four-door hatchback available in two trim levels: 328i xDrive and 335i xDrive. The main difference is what's under the hood (see Powertrains and Performance, below), but the 335i also gets a few extra standard features.

The 328i xDrive Gran Turismo hatchback comes standard with 18-inch alloy wheels, automatic headlights, foglights, automatic wipers, power-folding and auto-dimming heated mirrors, a panoramic sunroof, a power liftgate, cruise control, dual-zone automatic climate control, 10-way power sport front seats (with power-adjustable side bolsters), driver memory functions, "SensaTec" premium vinyl upholstery, a leather-wrapped tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, 40/20/40-split folding rear seatbacks and an auto-dimming rearview mirror. Standard electronic features include Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity, the iDrive tech interface (with a 6.5-inch display) and a nine-speaker sound system with a CD player, HD radio, satellite radio, an auxiliary audio jack and a USB port.

The 335i xDrive Gran Turismo adds adaptive xenon headlights, keyless ignition and entry (with a foot sensor for hands-free trunk opening), front-seat power lumbar adjustments and a 16-speaker Harman Kardon audio system.

You can add the 335i's extras to the 328i via the Lighting package (adaptive xenon headlights) and the Premium package (keyless entry and ignition, power front lumbar), with the Harman Kardon stereo available as a stand-alone option.

A number of packages are offered on both trim levels. The Luxury package adds leather upholstery, a choice of various wood or metallic interior trim panels and an M steering wheel, plus the option of non-sport front seats with less aggressive bolstering. The M Sport package also offers a variety of interior trim options, and it adds an aerodynamic body kit, BMW's "shadowline" exterior trim and the M steering wheel.

Beyond that, the Technology package includes a navigation system, voice controls, 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 Driver Assistance package provides front and rear parking sensors and a rearview camera. You can also tack on the Driver Assistance Plus package, which adds blind-spot monitoring, a multiview parking camera system, lane-departure warning, frontal collision warning and mitigation with automatic braking, a driver drowsiness monitor and speed-limit 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 (the latter are also available separately).

Stand-alone options include 19-inch wheels, adaptive cruise control, an automated parallel and perpendicular parking system and automatic high beam headlights.



Performance & mpg

The 2016 BMW 328i xDrive Gran Turismo comes with a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine rated at 240 horsepower and 255 pound-feet of torque. The 335i xDrive Gran Turismo has a turbocharged 3.0-liter inline six-cylinder engine rated at 300 hp and 300 lb-ft of torque.

Both come standard with all-wheel drive -- that's what the "xDrive" part means. An eight-speed automatic transmission is also standard, as is an automatic stop-start function that turns the engine off when the car comes to a stop in order to save fuel.

The 328i has an EPA estimate of 26 mpg combined (22 city/34 highway). We averaged 27 mpg on the 120-mile Edmunds real-world evaluation loop. The 335i xDrive GT's fuel efficiency drops to 23 mpg combined (20/30).

In Edmunds performance testing, a 328i xDrive Gran Turismo went from zero to 60 mph in 5.9 seconds, a swift run given the engine's modest power rating. BMW says the 335i needs 5.1 seconds to accomplish the same task.

Safety

Every 2016 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), rear- and top-view cameras, blind-spot monitoring, a lane-departure warning system, a driver drowsiness monitor and frontal collision warning with automatic emergency braking.

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

In government crash tests, the 2016 BMW 3 Series GT received five out of five stars for overall crash protection, with four stars for total front impact protection and five stars for total side impact protection.

Driving

The 2016 BMW 328i xDrive Gran Turismo's turbocharged four-cylinder engine provides punchy acceleration and impressive refinement. The quick-shifting eight-speed automatic is a great match, serving up prompt yet buttery-smooth shifts. If your budget allows, the six-cylinder 335i xDrive35i offers extra thrills without too much of a fuel economy penalty, but the overachieving four-cylinder is hard to pass up at its lower price point. With the four-cylinder in particular, the auto stop-start function can be an annoyance in heavy traffic, as the engine doesn't restart as quickly or smoothly as we'd like. Happily, you can manually disable this feature.

The 2016 3 Series GT may lack the sporting edge of its 3 Series and 4 Series siblings, but it's still no slouch in spirited maneuvers.

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 the general emphasis on practicality does exact a toll in terms of dynamics. This is a bigger and significantly heavier car than the regular 3 Series sedan, and when driven around turns, it lacks the light, energetic feel typically associated with the 3 Series. If you're looking for a sporty drive, in other words, you'll want to look elsewhere.

Interior

The Gran Turismo's cabin design is straight out of the regular 3 Series sedan and wagon, which is good news. The dashboard has an upscale yet restrained look, with standard wood trim and premium materials. The company's classic analog gauges provide a historical link with BMWs of previous decades, while the various interior trim options let buyers add their own stamp to the cabin. The standard front sport seats include power-adjustable side bolsters and are mounted higher than in the regular 3 Series, giving the driver a more commanding view of the road ahead.

The 2016 3 Series GT's dashboard and controls mirror those of the regular 3 Series, making for a sporty, stylish driving environment.

In terms of technology, the default 6.5-inch iDrive display is adequate, but the larger, optional screen delivers a richer experience. With that bigger screen comes a touchpad on top of the iDrive controller that can process inputs scrawled with a 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.

Although those elevated front seats are certainly a selling point, the Gran Turismo arguably adds even more value behind them. Thanks to a stretched wheelbase, there's more rear legroom than in the midsize 5 Series sedan. Rear headroom is less impressive, though, as protrusions in the headliner (because of the hatchback's hinges) can encroach on headroom for even normal-size adults.

When it's time to haul the goods, the high-opening liftgate makes loading and unloading easy, especially if you use the nifty foot sensor under the bumper that both opens and closes the hatch. The 40/20/40-split folding rear seatbacks also enhance versatility. There are 18.4 cubic feet of space behind the backseat, though that's a little misleading, as you'll have to remove the two-piece parcel shelf to fully utilize the cargo area. Total space with the rear seatbacks folded flat is 56.5 cubic feet, which is numerically competitive with the 3 Series Sport Wagon, though the wagon's more squared-off roof line makes it more practical for carrying bulky objects or dogs. Most small crossover SUVs are roomier 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.