For years, shoppers interested in a compact, entry-level luxury car have gravitated toward the BMW 3 Series. This popular BMW (http://www.edmunds.com/bmw/) model comes in a variety of body styles and has a well-deserved reputation for premium interior furnishings, outstanding build quality and a memorable driving experience that splits the difference between everyday comfort and sporty handling. The most recent addition to the family is the BMW 3 Series Gran Turismo (or 3 Series GT). Essentially a tall, four-door hatchback, the 3 Series Gran Turismo is significantly longer than the 3 Series wagon. With the most legroom and cargo space of any car in the 3 Series lineup, the BMW 3 Series GT is a good option for luxury car buyers needing real utility.
Beyond its extra space, the 3 Series Gran Turismo offers standard all-wheel drive, along with a higher seating position that gives you a better view of the road. This emphasis on practicality does have a few side effects, though: The Gran Turismo is a bigger, heavier car than a regular 3 Series sedan or wagon, and as such, it lacks the light, energetic feel typically associated with BMW's small cars. In addition, the GT's coupe-style roof line limits headroom for rear passengers, so you shouldn't plan on stuffing too many 6-footers in the backseat. On the whole, though, the BMW 3 Series Gran Turismo hatchback walks a tidy line between a small crossover SUV and a traditional wagon, and it's definitely worth checking out if these attributes are on your wish list.
Current BMW 3 Series Gran Turismo
The BMW 3 Series Gran Turismo is a tall, entry-level luxury four-door hatchback that was introduced for 2014. It seats five and it's more than 7 inches longer than the standard BMW 3 Series wagon, a difference that adds up to more rear legroom and cargo capacity. Two trim levels are available: 328i xDrive and 335i xDrive. The 328i GT comes with a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine rated at 240 horsepower and 258 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. An eight-speed automatic transmission is standard, as is all-wheel drive.
The 328i xDrive Gran Turismo hatchback comes standard with 17-inch alloy wheels, a power-operated rear hatch, dual-zone automatic climate control, eight-way power-adjustable front seats, the iDrive electronics interface with a 6.5-inch display, Bluetooth phone connectivity and a USB/iPod interface. The more powerful 335i xDrive GT adds 18-inch wheels and adaptive xenon headlights. Major options for both the 328i and 335i include leather upholstery; keyless ignition/entry; a navigation system with a larger display screen, Bluetooth audio capability and smartphone app integration; heated seats and steering wheel; an upgraded Harman Kardon audio system; and a handling package with adaptive shock absorbers. Among the optional safety features are rearview and top-down parking cameras, lane departure and frontal-collision warning systems, and an automated parallel-parking system.
Inside, the BMW 3 Series GT is as classy and comfortable as any other 3 Series model. The look and feel of the cabin is characterized by high-quality materials on most surfaces and a simple, functional layout. Although the standard 6.5-inch display screen is adequate, the larger, optional screen is a worthwhile upgrade for shoppers desiring a premium electronics interface. This version of the iDrive system includes a touchpad (on top of the main controller) that can be used to hand write inputs using your finger. Overall, iDrive is pretty easy to use and notable for its quick processing times, though some tasks require a few more twirls and clicks than we'd like. Of course, the 3 Series Gran Turismo's real specialty lies in the back half of the interior. With its impressive backseat legroom and 56.5 cubic feet of cargo capacity, it's a viable option for camping and vacationing.
On the highway, the GT offers such a smooth, comfortable ride that you probably won't mind that it doesn't handle as adroitly as other 3 Series models. Either of the engines will meet your needs. The turbocharged four-cylinder engine in the BMW 328i xDrive Gran Turismo provides quick, refined performance. However, the more powerful six-cylinder engine in the 335i is so impressive that you'll probably have a hard time passing it up, especially given the small difference in fuel economy between the two.
Used BMW 3 Series Gran Turismo Models
The BMW 3 Series Gran Turismo hatchback was all new for 2014, but shoppers interested in buying a used BMW should check out the standard BMW 3 Series, which comes in convertible, coupe, sedan and wagon body styles.