This is the largest BMW 3 Series to date, even including the long versions sold in China. Called the BMW 3 Series Gran Turismo, the new hatchback--the first hatchback version of the BMW 3 Series that the automaker has sold in the U.S. since 1999--is nearly 8 inches longer than the upcoming 3 Series Sportwagon, with 4 inches more space between the wheels. That means this mean luxury touring machine is more designed for passenger comfort over all-out performance. But it still has plenty of integral BMW qualities to it.
Who It's For
The 3 Series has become a car for everyone from young, upwardly mobile businesspeople to empty nesters with a little expendable cash. The 3 Series Gran Turismo expands that a step further, focusing on passenger space, utility, and comfort. So we're going to take a guess and say that its owners will likely skew older than those who buy 3 Series sedans and wagons. This is for those who hoard from garage sales in Westchester, New York.
Besides the obvious--the tall, upright look of the 3 Series GT--there's not much new that comes outside of the large passenger space. But what is there includes:
- Carryover 240- or 300-horsepower turbocharged engines in the 328i and 335i GT. The 320i GT and diesel haven't been confirmed for the U.S. yet.
- A 40:20:40 split-folding rear bench, with a two-level cargo shelf, shelling out an extra cubic foot of capacity over the wagon. Yeah, baby's got back.
- All of the same trim levels as other 3 Series, including standard, Sport, Luxury, Modern, and M Sport.
What We Think
If you can get past the looks--which shouldn't be too hard since this is easier on the eyes than the 5 Series GT--the 3 Series GT could make the 5 Series sedan irrelevant, with comparable rear leg room, more utility, similar performance and features, and a what will likely still be a lower price. Instead of assuming the bottom of the 3 Series' lineup, as the 318ti did in the 1990s, the GT has gone right for the top. Whether or not this vehicle in its niche segment takes off in the U.S. when it arrives here later this year--likely in November for the Los Angeles Auto Show--is yet to be seen. Americans are still hatch-averse, but we certainly do like practical, reasonable vehicles.
Despite looking like a solid, smart vehicle, we predict that this might struggle to find an audience in the U.S.
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