Vital Stats

Engine:
3.0L Turbo I6
Power:
302 HP / 295 LB-FT
Transmission:
8-Speed Auto
0-60 Time:
5.2 Seconds (est.)
Top Speed:
130 mph
Drivetrain:
Rear-Wheel Drive
Curb Weight:
3,850 LBS (est.)
Seating:
2+3
Cargo:
18.4-56.5 CU-FT
MPG:
21 City, 31 HWY (est.)
Base Price:
$38,500 for 328i (est.)
As Tested Price:
$59,000 for 335i M Sport (est.)
BMW Gets Much Closer To The GT Look And Feel It Seeks



The 2014 BMW 3 Series Gran Turismo is being launched to a pretty cynical automotive press brigade. You know it. We know it. Heck, even BMW knows it. We've just returned from driving it on the rather unforgiving and sometimes nasty roads of Sicily, and even before we got behind the wheel, many of our media colleagues were busying themselves doubting the 3 GT's very raison d'être. So, despite the always excellent Sicilian hospitality, the day's atmosphere was kind of fragile.

While the press in attendance seemed determined to nail every product expert to the wall for having been even tangentially associated with the larger 5 Series Gran Turismo, it seemed that BMW decided ahead of time to not introduce such a sensitive discussion topic. That strategy would do little to smooth things over as everyone started digging for dirt on BMW's so far clumsy Gran Turismo franchise.

As it turns out, we like the 3 GT despite so many packaging and design cards being stacked against it just by association with the 5 GT precedent. Automotive journalists are sometimes wrong en masse and this case of prejudice toward the 3 GT is one of those times.

And besides, much in the way the entire Buick brand still exists because China fell in love with it (entirely to General Motors' dumb-luck surprise), the 5 GT has somewhat thrived due to similar circumstances. The odd-duck 5 Series version – arguably the least appealing design ever to roll out of the halls of BMW – has found its savior almost exclusively in the Land of Confucius. After driving this new 3 GT, we have no reason to doubt it will find far more favor not just in China, but in all of BMW's major markets.
2014 BMW 3 Series Gran Turismo side view2014 BMW 3 Series Gran Turismo front view2014 BMW 3 Series Gran Turismo rear view

At least for the moment, the 3 GT pretty well stands alone in its niche.

First off, the 3 GT is based off the long-wheelbase 3 Series chassis created especially for the Chinese market. We've always liked seeing and riding in these stretched 3 Series and 5 Series sedans when traveling there, as the driving experience in Shanghai and Beijing traffic gets really old after about a half hour. The passenger experience in this 3 GT is thus very swell with its exterior 7.9-inches longer than the 3 Series wagon, and sporting a 4.3-inch longer wheelbase. Height is also increased by 3.2 inches, which immediately allows for fantastic headroom along with a more commanding 2.3-inch higher seat position front and back. Part of the height is also gained by setting the chassis one inch higher than the rest of the 3 Series family.

So, is it really a 3 Series? We had the same logic challenge with the 5 GT dimensionally, since that model is more like a 7 Series in certain aspects. After a while, you sort of let go of the quandary, however, because really it doesn't matter. Can this 3 GT stand on its own? Trying to locate something out there that is similarly sized, we came up with the much less luxurious Dodge Journey (a.k.a. Fiat Fremont in Europe), which is just a couple inches longer to allow its third-row seating. At least for the moment, the 3 GT pretty well stands alone in its niche.

2014 BMW 3 Series Gran Turismo interior2014 BMW 3 Series Gran Turismo front seats2014 BMW 3 Series Gran Turismo rear seats2014 BMW 3 Series Gran Turismo shifter

For the US, everything that applies trim and option-wise to the 3 Series sedan will apply to the 3 GT, which launches in September at a starting price of around $38,500 for the 328i GT and $45,500 for the 335i GT. Exact pricing will be announced closer to the time of deliveries, and buyers can expect xDrive all-wheel drive models then as well. Our tester seen here is a 335i GT M Sport rear-driver dipped in the options list – which includes the $3,200 M Sport package – and it arrives at just under $60,000. That's a wad of cash, but BMW has proven that its customers aren't afraid to option 3 Series models up into 5 Series territory. Sadly, there were no 328i testers available, but our hunch is that the 28i trim will be the better everyday choice, just as we've found with the 3 Series sedan.

Even at a stated weight of 3,850 pounds, the 335i GT's 0-60 is estimated at 5.2 seconds.

As with the rest of BMW's 35i models, the engine here is the much loved N55 Twin Power Turbo 3.0-liter inline six-cylinder chugging forth 302 horsepower at 5,800 rpm, accompanied by 295 pound-feet of torque from 1,200 to 5,000 rpm. Even at a stated weight of 3,850 pounds, the 335i GT's 0-60 mile per hour time is estimated at 5.2 seconds when all the right buttons are pushed (i.e. Drive Dynamics suite in Sport+, as well as that same S+ for the eight-speed Sport automatic seen in the Sport and M Sport lines).

2014 BMW 3 Series Gran Turismo engine

There was just enough water left on the pavement from a rain squall – plus a little sand – and no traffic in rural Sicily on our drive. On a bit of a dare, we temporarily unplugged all the dynamic limiters/helpers, set the chassis, steering, gearshifts and throttle in Sport+, and had at it through a few hairpins to see if this more practically proportioned 3 GT can handle like an M Sport should. For a stretched 3 Series that stands taller and weighs 290 pounds more than the equivalent sedan, the 335i GT M Sport acquitted itself commendably well. Its electromechanical steering is not a favorite, but the throttle play and programming of the eight-speed gearbox are both sweet work. So, we can tick the "nicely controlled oversteer" box for the 335i GT.

For some time now, BMW has gone whole hog on the run-flat tires, which is a shame. With M Sport specification, you can choose between having summer performance run-flats or all-season run-flats, but neither is ideal. Our tester had the optional 19-inch Continental ContiSportContact SSR treads, and while they look nice on the M Sport wheels, 19-inch run-flats on a hauler of this dimension are simply not right. The adaptive suspension helps smooth out the bumps and bruises, but this run-flat obsession remains dissatisfying. Couple that to the robot-assist steering and a chunk of mid-curve fidelity has been lost. The chassis and powertrain, however, are an extremely sweet duo – almost good enough to make us care less about these less strong points.

Autoblog Short Cuts: 2014 BMW 3 Series Gran Turismo

Job one with the 3 GT, however, is passenger and cargo space. Both categories score extremely high, too. We spent a lot of time investigating its flexible cargo hold, and by our yardstick, it's the segment leader for all cars mid-size and smaller. It's all easy to fiddle with, too, with listed volume back there ranging from 18.4 to 56.5 cubic feet – that's more than in the wagon. Cargo hooks, 12-volt outlets and under-floor stowage? Check. And beyond the exemplary rear passenger headroom, the Chinese-spec stretch chassis makes for 2.8 inches more rear legroom versus other 3 Series models, which means there's more than in the back of a 5 Series. For front passengers of cars fitted with the M Sport setup, the M Sport seats with ten-way adjustability are well chosen and maintain that command-view height.

Job one with the 3 GT is passenger and cargo space. Both categories score extremely high, too.

When the 3 GT's design process began three years ago, the car's A-pillar was more upright with the roof higher in front, but, according to exterior styling leader Page Beermann, that didn't look so great. Now, the windscreen has the greater rake to it and the car looks nicer while boasting a coefficient of drag of just 0.28 – good work for something with such a large frontal area. One more design touch they've done here for the first time is something BMW has dubbed Air Breathers. At the front of the forward wheel well on all new 3 Series body styles, you'll find something called an Air Curtain. It helps air flow through the lower side intakes in front and cools the brake discs. Conversely, the Air Breathers are those black detailed blister vents on our test car behind the front wells, and they let the air flow out of the wheel well, preventing excessive swirl, thus improving aerodynamics.

2014 BMW 3 Series Gran Turismo rear 3/4 view2014 BMW 3 Series Gran Turismo front fascia2014 BMW 3 Series Gran Turismo fender2014 BMW 3 Series Gran Turismo rear spoiler

This 3 GT is a much better deal than its 5 Series antecedent, and far nicer looking than what initial photos may have suggested.

Finally, there's the active aerodynamic effect of the automated rear spoiler. It deploys at speeds above 68 mph and retracts at 43 mph. This aero touch prevents the rear end design from pooching up too much like the eye sore tail on the 5 GT. To our eyes, the proportions for the 3 GT in profile and from behind are more than acceptable now. BMW designers admitted that their ambitious poster child on the project was the Lamborghini Espada with its very challenging and beautiful greenhouse. We're a long way from Italian greatness here, but at least the 3 GT brings us much closer to sexy.

With its growing Gran Coupe and Gran Turismo families – not to mention the X6 crossover – BMW is still clearly trying to figure out how to walk the line between outright coupe styling and cargo-hauling practicality. In the end, this 3 GT is a much better deal than its 5 Series antecedent, and in person, it's far nicer looking than what initial photos may have suggested. Besides, we kind of have a long-standing thing for big rear hatch doors, especially when they can be had with rear-wheel drive. It's not perfect and we know some people still reeling from the shock of the 5 GT are going to hurl insults at it anyway, but the 3 GT warrants real consideration from buyers looking for a flexible and premium people hauler with a sure dose of driving competence.


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 175 Comments
      Matt
      • 2 Years Ago
      I'd still prefer the wagon (touring or whatever they call it?), which has much more coherent design and more usefully-shaped storage (GT may have more total volume, but it's in the form of a wedge, not a cube). Most stuff you need to haul is box-shaped, not a wedge. Will they offer the wagon with a manual transmission?
        askroon
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Matt
        Nope.
        hans wee
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Matt
        wagon isn't coming in manual. it is coming in diesel though. i think the GT might have similar cargo area, then again its like 5" longer car.
          Matt
          • 2 Years Ago
          @hans wee
          328d wagon with a manual would be my DREAM car. Probably VW/Audi sportwagen is my best bet for diesel+manual+wagon. I would have bought the current Jetta Sportwagen if it had xenons available.
      witz323
      • 2 Years Ago
      Trying to get my head around this. I hated the 5 GT, but maybe I didn\'t appreciate it for what it could be. I do like the M package, and if I could make this an xdrive with a tow package, i just might consider one of these GT cars instead of an X5. I have always preferred driving a car over an SUV, so maybe BMW is onto something here. They seem a bit more roomier than their wagons, yet probably drive much better than an x5.
      BarryH
      • 2 Years Ago
      Hideous. The current F30 is massive as is (I have one). This thing is so not appealing.
      Hello, Brian
      • 2 Years Ago
      Something about the rear view reminds me of the old VW 411 Variant Fastback. If the greatest praise that can be given on a review is that it is roomy. That is faint praise, indeed.
        BG
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Hello, Brian
        Recall, the 411 was only sold in the US with a grim auto transmission (3-speed, I think). See, VW anticipated the typical US driver's ability to master the complexities of transmissions way back in the 1970s,
      greg
      • 2 Years Ago
      the 5 gt is too big and chunky this look proportional and actually nice
      Mchicha
      • 2 Years Ago
      They can keep it.
      neilyadig
      • 2 Years Ago
      bring the M550d Touring. forget this crap.
      joe shmoe
      • 2 Years Ago
      wait. Who was the first to have the foot swipe trunk opener ?? ford? bmw? hyundai?
      wafflesnfalafel
      • 2 Years Ago
      Long live the Air Breathers, may they always prevent "excessive swirl". I know there are some folks that like these GT models. I do follow the logic - I want a BMW, but I need it to carry a couple kids and their stuff, but I don't want it to look like a wagon, and I don't want to have to change a flat tire, and I want to take it skiing so I need awd available. I do think the new 3 series sedan very nice looking - arguably better than the last couple generations. I have not driven one yet so I don't know if they 'feel' as nice as previous models past, (the 330s from the early 2000's are wonderful machines.) I personally prefer more of a sport wagon styling, (IS 300, Audi, CTS wagon, 2001-3 Subie Impreza wagon, even Focus ST, 2004-09 Mazda 3 etc.) More usable room and visually more appealing for me.
      1STH
      • 2 Years Ago
      it's always hilarious to find autoblog commenters who have a $9k budget for their next car discuss what they think of the latest BMW. comments full of spite, anger, and pain.
        cpmanx
        • 2 Years Ago
        @1STH
        You are off the mark. BMWs are aspirational cars for people who cannot (or cannot yet) afford them. People here are bothered that this 3-series GT is an aspirational car that they do not aspire to own. Look at AB comments about, say, the new Porsche 911. They are not full of angry comments from people who cannot afford it.
        icemilkcoffee
        • 2 Years Ago
        @1STH
        Since most BMW\'s are rented and not purchased, the autoblog commenter with a $9k budget is probably overqualified for BMW\'s.
        Farmboy
        • 2 Years Ago
        @1STH
        So what, people who can't afford something have no business discussing it? Your logic is flawed.
        • 2 Years Ago
        @1STH
        [blocked]
      cpmanx
      • 2 Years Ago
      A $60,000 3-series that looks like the last-generation Hyundai Elantra? The engineering is fabulous, clearly, and the packaging makes a lot of sense, but I'm having a hard time wrapping my head around the style/value aspects of this car.
      sloturbo
      • 2 Years Ago
      That's fine, send it to China for their market, but please don't bring it to the US, thanks.
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