2018 BMW 3 Series Gran Turismo

2018 BMW 3 Series Gran Turismo Review

The 3 Series GT occupies an intriguing middle ground among sportiness, luxury and versatility.
author
by Jonathan Elfalan
Edmunds Editor

Edmunds expert review

The 2018 BMW 3 Series Gran Turismo is an interesting mix of vehicle traits. It's not a crossover, but it comes with all-wheel drive and a slightly elevated seating position. It offers more cargo capacity than a 3 Series wagon and more rear legroom than a BMW X3, yet most would say it handles very much like a sedan.

If you can get past the slightly awkward proportions of 3 Series GT, it begins to look like a best-of-all-worlds vehicle. There's strong turbocharged acceleration even from the base 330i's four-cylinder engine and ample amounts of buttery-smooth thrust should you opt for the 340i with its turbo inline six-cylinder. All models also come standard with BMW's xDrive for all-season traction.

So what are the shortcomings? Well, ultimately the 3 Series-based X3 SUV still has more cargo room and ground clearance, and the smaller sedan and wagon variants deliver more of the crisp handling that BMWs are known for. However, we think those things matter less than the Gran Turismo's list of standard equipment, which doesn't include basic luxury-level items such as keyless entry and adjustable lumbar support. At this price, those features should be included.



What's new for 2018

Changes to the 3 Series Gran Turismo are pretty minor for 2018. A rearview camera is now standard along with BMW's ConnectedDrive Services, and BMW's iDrive interface has been upgraded to the latest 6.0 version, with new navigation (if equipped) and touchscreen technology. BMW has also shuffled around the availability of some of the Gran Turismo's optional content.

We recommend

The turbocharged four-cylinder engine powering the 330i is sufficiently powerful as well as fuel-efficient. It's the engine we'd recommend, even though the turbo inline six-cylinder in the 340i is quite a gem. A downside of the Gran Turismo (and many other BMW models) is an odd lack of some key standard features. Add the Convenience package at the very least to get keyless entry and power lumbar support. And for iPhone users, you can forgo the expensive navigation option and opt for Apple CarPlay.



Trim levels & features

The 2018 BMW 3 Series Gran Turismo is available in two trim levels: 330i xDrive and 340i xDrive. All-wheel drive and an eight-speed automatic transmission come standard on both. The main difference is under the hood. The 330i packs a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder (248 horsepower, 258 pound-feet of torque) and the 340i upgrades to a turbocharged 3.0-liter inline six-cylinder (320 hp, 330 lb-ft).

The Gran Turismo 330i xDrive isn't brimming with standard luxuries, but it does include 18-inch alloy wheels (with all-season run-flat tires), LED headlights, automatic wipers, power-folding and auto-dimming side mirrors, a panoramic sunroof and a power liftgate. Interior highlights include dual-zone automatic climate control, power-adjustable sport front seats, driver-seat memory settings, simulated leather upholstery, a rearview camera, 40/20/40-split folding rear seatbacks and an auto-dimming rearview mirror. On the technology front, the 330i comes standard with Bluetooth, BMW's iDrive infotainment interface, a 6.5-inch display screen, BMW Connected Services, and a nine-speaker audio system with a CD player, HD radio, an auxiliary audio jack and a USB port.

An optional Convenience package (note that BMW calls its packages "tiers") adds keyless ignition and entry, power lumbar support and satellite radio.

The 340i xDrive has the above equipment plus the Convenience package as standard.

Selecting the Premium package for either model adds heated front seats, a navigation system, a larger 8.8-inch display, a head-up display, and BMW Remote Services, allowing for remote controlled functions through the mobile app.

The next level up is the Executive tier. It includes a surround-view parking camera system, adaptive full LED headlights with automatic high beams, leather upholstery, a digital instrument cluster and BMW's Parking Assistant, which helps guide you into parking spaces.

You can add the M Sport Design package to either of the top two tiers. It offers a variety of sport-themed interior trim treatments, an aerodynamic body kit, BMW's Shadowline exterior trim, an M steering wheel, and an option to add the Adaptive M suspension.

For added safety, consider the Driver Assistance package. It includes lane departure warning, forward collision warning with automatic emergency braking, a drowsy driver warning system and a speed-limit display.

Stand-alone options for the Gran Turismo include 19-inch wheels, a heated steering wheel, heated rear seats, adaptive cruise control, blind-spot monitoring, Apple CarPlay, and wireless charging with a Wi-Fi hotspot.



Trim tested

Each vehicle typically comes in multiple versions, although trim levels share many aspects. The ratings in this review are based on our full test of the 2014 BMW 328i xDrive Gran Turismo (turbo 2.0L inline-4 | 8-speed automatic | AWD).

NOTE: Since this test was conducted, the current 3 Series Gran Turismo has been revised, including new engines introduced in 2017. Our findings remain broadly applicable to this year's 3 Series Gran Turismo, though keep in mind that the four-cylinder engine in the 328i rated here generates slightly less horsepower and torque than one found in the 2018 330i.

Driving

Don't let the Gran Turismo's 4.4-inch-longer wheelbase (versus the 3 Series sedan's), elevated seating position or hatchback body style fool you. This is still a true performance machine. It's a joy to drive with plenty of seat-of-the-pants feel that boosts the driver's confidence.

Acceleration

The turbo four-cylinder's instant-on low-end torque makes this engine terrific. Acceleration around town or at highway cruising speeds is effortless. The eight-speed automatic is smooth and smart, holding gears nicely when it needs to.

Braking

In our panic-stop brake test, the Gran Turismo posted average results. For typical use, we found the brakes to be predictably linear and highly effective in most situations, with no detectable fade after hard driving and no grabbiness in daily driving.

Steering

Excellent feedback through the wheel with natural weighting. It's not as precise as BMW's previous hydraulic setup, but it's exceptionally good as far as electric-assist systems go. This car goes exactly where you point it.

Handling

Partially due to our test car's optional adaptive suspension dampers, this wagon-crossover-AWD thing still acts like a BMW. It's nimble and willing on curvy roads but forgiving and easy to drive on long highway slogs.

Drivability

The engine stop-start system is more intrusive than others and can shut off too quickly, such as when turning right on red. The gas pedal can be lurchy in Sport mode; Comfort mode replaces this with dullness. The cruise control is fantastic at holding a set speed.

Comfort

Especially with our test car's optional adaptive shock absorbers, the Gran Turismo deftly balances comfort and driving performance. It's remarkably quiet, too.

Seat comfort

The optional front sport seats have firm cushions, but seatback bolstering is substantial and the leather is grippy. The front armrests have good padding and are positioned well. The rear seat cushions are even firmer than the fronts, and the seatback angle is a bit too upright.

Ride comfort

With the hard sidewalls of the standard run-flat tires, no one will call the GT cushy. But the optional adaptive suspension helps greatly. Smaller ripples can find their way into the cabin, but the big bumps stay out.

Noise & vibration

Other than obvious tire noise when driving over expansion joints, this is a truly quiet car with nearly zero wind noise. The engine isn't as smooth as BMW's classic six-cylinder. At higher speeds, some engine noise does creep into the cabin.

Climate control

The dual-zone climate control has simple dials and buttons, and in typical BMW fashion, everything is easy for the driver or front passenger to reach.

Interior

High-quality materials combine with a thoughtful, if plain, design to 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 laudable cargo capacity.

Ease of use

Well-organized controls are easy to use, and the iDrive infotainment system is quite intuitive despite its complex menus. The rocker switch to alter the drive modes is conveniently located next to the gear selector, where it's easy to see and access.

Getting in/getting out

The front doors open wide, and there's little risk of hitting your head on the roof. There also isn't anything to catch your feet up on. The rear doors are small but open nearly 90 degrees. The entryway isn't large, so you have to duck a bit to get in and out.

Driving position

A standard tilt-and-telescoping steering column and highly adjustable seats allow just about anyone to find a comfortable driving position. And because of the GT's extra rear legroom, taller drivers won't feel bad stretching out.

Roominess

Front headroom and door-side elbow room are more than adequate. Rear headroom is tight due to the sloping roof, but the GT has 4.1 inches more rear legroom than the 3 Series sedan, and that's a difference your passengers will notice.

Visibility

The windshield pillars get thick toward the bottom, causing some sideview obstruction. The left-side, over-the-shoulder lane check is problematic, as is the big rear three-quarter blind spot.

Quality

The GT is solidly built and boasts excellent materials and precise engineering. No gimmicks. However, we did notice one occasional dash rattle in our test car.

Utility

Another strong suit for the Gran Turismo. There's a shortage of handy nooks for stashing smaller items (a typical BMW shortcoming), but the 3 Series GT compensates with its capacious and user-friendly cargo hold.

Small-item storage

As in many BMWs, small-item storage space isn't generous. There's a tiny front bin and a small center bin, and the cupholders lack anti-tip features. Minimalism can be beautiful, but in this case it comes at the expense of convenience.

Cargo space

You'll find helpful pull handles in the trunk to drop the rear seatbacks. The 24.6-cubic-foot trunk is narrow but deep, with a perfect loading height. The liftgate opens high for ample head clearance.

Technology

Our experiences with the new iDrive 6.0 system in other BMWs have been primarily positive. The menus can be rather extensive, but iDrive offers a convenient way to navigate through them. Apple CarPlay is also a welcome option, and the active driver aids are better than most.

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.