The new high-riding 3-series GT follows the template of the larger 5-series GT. It is longer, wider and taller than the 3-series Touring on which it is based. BMW claims the 3-series GT mixes the dynamics of the 3-series saloon with the practicality of the 3-series Touring and the looks of a coupé.
BMW is pitching the 3-series GT at families in America and China, markets where traditional estates are less popular
The five-seat 3-series GT will be offered with five engines from launch, including a 302bhp 335i range-topper, and the likely best-seller, the 320d. It is set to go on sale in the UK in late spring, priced at around £1500 more than an equivalent 3-series Touring model. The base 320i SE model costs from £28,830.
At 4824mm long, 1828mm wide and 1508mm high, the 3-series GT is 200mm longer, 17mm wider and 79mm taller than the 3-series Touring. The wheelbase is also 110mm longer at 2920mm as the GT is based on the extended wheelbase 3-series sold only in China. The upshot of this is 70mm more legroom for rear passengers, more than in a 5-series saloon.
Boot capacity is also increased in the 3-series GT over the 3-series Touring by 25 litres to 520 litres. The split rear bench folds 40/20/40 to further improve the car’s LED strip light-illuminated loading area up to 1600 litres. A low-loading lip and wide boot opening also improve the car’s ability to carry bulky loads. An electric tailgate is standard.
The design of the 3-series GT is much sleeker than that of the bulky 5-series GT. A key feature in achieving the GT's appearance is the active rear spoiler that raises above 68mph. It ensures stability at high speed whilst keeping the rear of the car as low as possible.
Moreover, the frameless doors of the GT reduce the thickness of the door frames which increases the door aperture whilst also contributing to the dynamic appearance. Combined with the dramatically sloping roofline, the 3-series GT is clearly identifiable from the rest of the range.
Inside, the driving position is raised by 59mm over the standard 3-series. BMW claims three adults can sit on the rear bench in comfort.
The launch line-up of the rear-drive 3-series GT includes three petrol models (320i, 328i and 335i) and two diesels (318d and 320d). A turbocharged 2.0-litre petrol engine is offered with 181bhp in the 320i and 242bhp in the 328i.
A 302bhp turbocharged 3.0-litre unit powers the 335i model, which can crack 0-62mph in 5.7sec when equipped with the standard six-speed manual gearbox. An eight-speed automatic is optional with all engines.
BMW’s familiar 2.0-litre turbodiesel is offered with 141bhp in the 318d and 181bhp in the 320d. In the 320d, combined economy is rated at 57.6mpg and CO2 emissions are 129g/km.
The Sport, Modern and Luxury trims from the 3-series saloon and Touring ranges will be offered on the 3-series GT in addition to a base spec. Standard wheels will be 17in diameter, with larger rims available on the options list; adaptive dampers will also feature as an option. M Sport models will ride 10mm lower and are set to be introduced from July 2013.
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