Gran Turismo cars are always something special. It is indeed a great experience to travel in them, to make those long journeys you always dream of.
GT cars are also synonymous of sleek coupés, with good (front) seating accommodation and luggage space. BMW has literally extended the theme even further, and has designed roomy sedans which provide ample creature comfort, also at the rear, and which proudly bear the GT badge.
We have tested for you earlier the 5-series GT, and this time we are pleased to present you the 3-series Diesel Gran Turismo for a test.
Does this BMW have Grand Touring character? Just read further …
Hans Knol ten Bensel
Our test car came in a pleasing deep metallic blue, actually called “Imperialblau Brillianteffekt”, with a nicely contrasting beige coloured interior. This was genuine leather, set in “Dakota Venetobeige.” When getting into the car, one is immediately impressed by the roominess of the cabin. The familiar BMW controls make you also soon feel at home, the ergonomics of the levers and handles, the positioning of the instruments and the shape of the central console feel “just right.”
The finish and quality of the materials makes you literally feel the luxury and high level of craftsmanship which went into this BMW.
The four cylinder 1995 cc Diesel is a very smooth unit, and delivers its power virtually vibrationless, and all this with only a very subdued exhaust throb. The ability of this engine to operate with velvet like smoothness at very small throttle openings from say 1000 rpm onwards also contributes largely to a feeling of comfort and mechanical refinement.
Also the drivetrain does take up at very slow speeds without any vibrations, the clutch is also nicely progressive. Indeed, our test car was a six speed manual version, and we did not regret it one bit. The BMW is very easy to drive therefore in busy city traffic, and it is even a relaxing experience.
The unit is of course very willing, in the good BMW tradition. It develops very good pulling power and has a very nice torque curve, so brisk getaways are guaranteed, and are completely effortless. The engine, equipped with BMW TwinPower Turbo Technology with variable geometry turbocharger and Common Rail direct injection, develops 143hp with a peak torque of 320Nm available between 1,750rpm and 2,500rpm.
Given its zero to 100 kph or 62mph time of 9.7 seconds (automatic: 9.6 sec) and 130mph (210 kph) top speed the car is of course by no means slow.
Made for Grand Touring…
As the engine is powerful enough to stay in lower rev ranges to deliver its power, economy is very impressive indeed.
Driving the car in dense motorway traffic, with frequent stop and go movements alternated with cruising at the legal speed limits when this was possible, we still managed to get an average fuel consumption between 5,3 and 5 litres on 100 km.
The manufacturer quotes a fuel consumption of 4,5 litres, and this is indeed achievable with an anticipative driving style. You are assisted in this by the electronic driving aids. By the way, CO2 emissions are 119g/km for the manual version, 127 g/km for the automatic.
Further fuel savings are possible thanks to the full suite of BMW EfficientDynamics technologies, standard across the BMW 3 Series Gran Turismo range, including for the first time an active rear spoiler.
This extends automatically once the car reaches 70mph to ensure it retains the traditional BMW dynamic capability at higher speeds. Once extended, the spoiler reduces lift on the rear axle by more than 35 per cent, allowing the Gran Turismo to replicate the aerodynamic qualities of the BMW 3 Series Saloon.
If the speed falls below 43 mph, the spoiler automatically retracts, melting back into the car almost invisibly. If required, the rear spoiler can be extended and retracted manually using a button on the driver’s door control panel..
Indeed, the BMW is frugal, refined and fast. On the motorway or Autobahn, the car feels of course completely in its element. It is masterfully competent up to very high speeds, which are however well above the legal limit(s) in our country.
It cruises without the slightest effort, without any hint of vibration and virtually no engine noise whatsoever at speeds between 120-130 kph.
At these motorway speeds road/wind noise is very subdued. You want to enjoy classical concerts, even down to the very silent passages? You can do that in this Gran Turismo, even at (high) speeds.
The straight line stability of the car is unerring, the suspension is well tuned. Indeed, the suspension settings have been shifted slightly towards directional stability and long-distance comfort. The seats are also excellent. One easily finds his/hers ideal seating position.
Well balanced chassis
You can understand that long trips are hardly tiring, if at all. This makes the BMW into a very impressive Gran Turismo drivers’car, responsive, and yet so docile, refined and smooth you wish the trip would never stop.
The car steers precise, with very good road feel transmitted trough the steering wheel, which however will always stay smoothly in your hand and does not transmit any road surface harshness or drivetrain vibrations. Indeed, the Electric Power Steering is torque steer-free, and the Gran Turismo has a finely balanced axle load distribution (50:50) and a torsionally stiff but lightweight body.
The BMW feels rather nimble along winding roads, steers nicely into the bends, and is thanks to its still rather compact dimensions agile and responsive. The car can really be driven with verve, and it does not feel out of place to do this.
Various state-of-the-art electronic aids are integrated into the Dynamic Stability Control (DSC) system, including the Anti-lock Braking System (ABS), Automatic Stability Control (ASC), Dynamic Traction Control (DTC), Dynamic Brake Control (DBC) and Cornering Brake Control (CBC), along with the Start-Off Assistant and an electronic limited slip function for the rear differential, which can be activated using the “DSC Off” button.
GT comfort to suit your personal driving taste…
The new BMW 3 Series Gran Turismo also offers drivers the ability to vary the overall character of the vehicle to suit the driving situation or their personal preferences.
The different modes are selected via the Drive Performance Control switch that is standard on all models.
Using a button on the centre console, the driver can choose between ECO PRO, COMFORT, SPORT and SPORT+ modes. Each of these predefined set-ups activates different settings for the relevant powertrain.
A further button allows the driver to change the DSC settings or switch them off altogether.
The Gran Turismo body is higher than the “normal” sedan version, and many people just like that. It makes getting in and out of the car easier, your view on the road and other traffic is more commanding, all this also enhances the feeling of safety and well being. Indeed, front and rear seat passengers all benefit from a seating position raised by 59mm.
Also there is ample legroom in the rear, increased by not less than 70 mm over the sedan.
The fifth door opens high and offers cavernous luggage space. At 520 litres, it is rising to a maximum 1,600 litres. Besides the wide load aperture and high opening electric tailgate which make loading easier, the tilt angle of the backrests can be adjusted through 15 stages and 19 degrees, and even brought into a vertical position if required.
A two-piece parcel shelf seals the load bay, the larger segment opening with the tailgate while the second segment remains on its railing, allowing smaller items to be left in place even when the tailgate is opened. When not in use the sections can be easily removed and stored away neatly under the load compartment floor.
The new BMW 3 Series Gran Turismo is fitted as standard with an electric tailgate, but optionally available is the Smart Opener (part of the Comfort Access option), which allows the boot lid to be opened hands-free with a movement of the foot under the rear bumper.
Four lashing points in the load compartment floor and a multifunction hook in the left-hand side panel are on hand for securing loads, while a multifunction storage tray under the load compartment floor and a deep compartment in the left-hand side panel swallow up smaller items. Also located here is a 12-volt power socket to plug in a cool box or charge electrically powered devices.
The rear seat backrests are fitted with folding head restraints and can be split 40:20:40 as standard. This Gran Turismo is indeed very practical...
A vast choice of equipment…
BMW drivers can choose many extra items on this car, which make travelling in his car even more pleasant.
Our test car came equipped with some useful items like Park Distance Control at the rear, automatic 2 zone airco, cruise control with brake function, and Business Navigation System amongst others, which made (daily) living with the BMW even nicer.
To conclude, we must say that it is a delightful, well finished drivers’ car, practical, roomy, stylish, and last but not least very frugal. It is very refined, in its road behaviour and also has a delicious, vibration free engine and drive train. Need we say more?
We can only add, when choosing a car in this segment, definitely take a test drive in this BMW…
Hans Knol ten Bensel