Expert Review - BMW 3 Series GT F34 (2013-Present)
14 November 2014
Polarising looks aside, the BMW 3 Series Gran Turismo is an impressive piece of kit. What you lose in visual appeal, you gain in oodles of newfound space, while retaining a pleasing blend of ride, handling and performance. Only the steep entry price disappoints, although you do get quite a lot of standard equipment thrown in.
Whichever model you choose – the 184 hp/380 Nm 320d or the 245 hp/350 Nm 328i – you'll get both outstanding performance and good fuel economy. The torquey diesel in particular packs a proper punch and is exceedingly frugal, but it can be rather rough and clattery at idle, while BMW's start-stop system leaves a lot to be desired in terms of smoothness of operation. The standard eight-speed sport automatic with paddle shifters is a joy to use – well-judged ratios executed swiftly and imperceptibly.
Ride & Handling
The GT acquits itself admirably in the bends, considering the increased girth and heft over a regular 3 Series. There's some roll in the corners, but body movements are reigned in well and grip levels are prodigious. The electrically-assisted steering provides decent linearity and response – if little in the way of feel – but is rather light, which does slightly dent the car's high-speed stability. The ride quality is pliant and well-damped, despite the standard-fit run-flat tyres.
Wind and tyre noise can be a bit of a problem at higher speeds and above – it definitely isn't the whisper-quiet one expects from a pseudo-limo. Engine noise and harshness is kept to a minimum once you get going, however, particularly as the long-legged transmission keeps revs low even past the highway limit. The seats are reasonably comfortable and supportive, apart from the flat rear bench.
As befits a BMW, the 3er GT's exhaustive list of safety equipment includes a full complement of six airbags, two-stage Dynamic Stability Control (DSC) and Isofix child seat anchors at the rear. There's no alarm system, however – just an immobiliser.
Sitting on a longer wheelbase than the sedan, the GT treats its rear passengers in particular to acres of legroom, while the higher driving position enhances visibility and a sense of imperviousness. But the boot is the biggest beneficiary of this body type, with a handy 520 litres to store all your odds and ends. Folding the rear seats flat boosts space further to a massive 1,600 litres.
Entry to the 3 Series GT range is not cheap – at near RM300k, the base 320d is over RM50k more expensive than the equivalent sedan. You do get a considerable amount of extra kit for the money however – virtually the entire equipment list is identical to the pricier 328i, including a higher-end BMW Professional audio system, navigation, an iDrive Touch Controller and a powered tailgate. Only keyless entry and a reverse camera is missing on the 320d (the latter is a shame, given the car's poor rearward visibility). The upshot is that the 328i costs just RM30k more.