2017 BMW 3 Series GT review: Estate practicality, saloon style

Introduction

The BMW 3 Series saloon helped decimate the large family hatchback marketplace, and with the 3 Series GT you can have exactly that, but with that oh-so-important BMW roundel. The 3 Series GT’s boot is actually larger than that of the 3 Series Touring, with the seats in position, and folded.

Body Style: 5 door hatchback Seats: 5                   MRP from £31,420-£44,610

 

Verdict | Design | Interior | Technology | Performance | Safety | Specs | Running Costs | Pricing

Verdict:★★★★★★★☆☆☆ (6.8/10)

An oddity that BMW describes as the perfect interplay between form and space; We’d argue that the GT is simply about more choice, with the 3 GT adding a practical derivative into the 3 Series line-up that doesn’t overtly shout about its usefulness.

You’d have to be pathologically opposed to the idea of a 3 Series Touring, though, even if the GT’s capacity actually betters that of its estate car relation. The reality is it’s more about carrying people than stuff, that sizeable boot merely a bonus. A bit softer to drive, you sit higher without having to resort to an SUV, the GT has a place in the market, but we’re not sure if even BMW itself knows exactly where that lies.

Its biggest problem today is internal competition, with the 5 Series being newer and similarly priced, while the X3 offers all that too and SUV styling and ability.

Design & Exterior

★★★★★★☆☆☆☆ (6/10)

Interior & Comfort

★★★★★★★★☆☆ (8/10)

Technology & Connectivity

★★★★★★★☆☆☆ (7/10)

Performance & Handling

★★★★★★★☆☆☆ (7/10)

Safety Features

★★★★★★★☆☆☆ (7/10)

Spec & Trim Levels

★★★★★★★☆☆☆ (7/10)

Running Costs & Fuel Economy

★★★★★★★☆☆☆ (7/10)

Pricing

★★★★★★☆☆☆☆ (6/10)

BMW 3 Series GT

We Like

Supple ride mixed with fine handling.

Economy and good performance.

Plenty of passenger and luggage space.

We Don't Like

It looks expensive, especially if you pick up a 5 Series brochure at the same time.

Styling nowhere near as appealing as its most obvious Audi A5 Sportback rival.

Standard safety equipment not as comprehensive as it should be. 

 

Verdict | Design | Interior | Technology | Performance | Safety | Specs | Running Costs | Pricing

Design & Exterior: ★★★★★★☆☆☆☆ (6/10)

We can’t imagine many people walked into a BMW showroom and said they’d like something between the 3 Series saloon and Touring in concept and execution, but that’s exactly what BMW has produced with the GT. The Bavarians dipped their toes initially with the idea with the larger 5 Series GT, a car that’s never been particularly comfortable in its enlarged skin (and now replaced with the 6 GT). Its smaller sibling, this 3 Series GT, does however, manage to pull off the greater practicality, higher hip point hatchback trick without resorting to stylistic dumpiness. Even so, park a 3 GT alongside Audi’s A5 Sportback and you’ll see BMW’s rival has pulled off the classic idea of elegant GT styling rather more convincingly. 

Like elsewhere in the 3 Series range the GT’s looks can be changed by your trim choices. Whereas the 3 Series saloon and Touring benefit greatly from M Sport styling it could be argued that with the GT it only adds to the scale. The less expansive bodywork of the SE, Sport or Luxury models suit it better, depending on your tastes. Optional metal trim around the glasshouse on helps lengthen its shape, so that’s worth considering, and metallic paint choices help soften its more expansive flanks. However you choose to specify it, make sure you specify optional 19-inch wheels (over the standard 18-inch ones), as they better fill the wheel arches.

BMW 3 Series GT

 

Verdict | Design | Interior | Technology | Performance | Safety | Specs | Running Costs | Pricing

Interior & Comfort: ★★★★★★★★☆☆ (8/10)

If you’ve sat in a BMW 3 Series you’ll not find anything different, except how you view it. You sit higher in the 3 Series GT, it removing the inherently sporting driving position of the 3 and replacing it with one more akin to that of an SUV or MPV. That’s deliberate, so it’s difficult to find fault with BMW here, though the same complaint of the 3’s interior beginning to feel and look a bit old remains. There are so many levels and surfaces, all of which feel nicely constructed and of fine materials, but sit in a new Audi or Mercedes-Benz and the BMW dash betrays its advancing years.  

Comfort is where the 3 Series GT scores. There’s more legroom in the rear, and the seatbacks can be angled too, that as much about affording more bootspace as it is passenger comfort. Getting in and out is a little bit easier, the slight stretch in the 3 GT’s wheelbase helping here, and with that spaciousness inside. The suspension isn’t quite as focussed as other 3 Series models, either, which given the GT’s more practical, luxurious Grand Turismo role is no surprise.

BMW 3 Series GT

Practicality 

You might think that the BMW 3 Series Touring is the most practical 3 Series, but you’d be wrong. At least when it comes to boot capacity that is, the 3 GT’s 520-litre maximum boot space with the seats in place bettering the Touring by 25 litres. Fold all the seats, which do so in a 40/20/40 fashion, and there’s 100-litres more space than the Touring, with the GT’s ultimate capacity 1600 litres. All that’s accessed via the huge hatchback opening at the rear, which, usefully, is powered on all models from the base SE upwards, while the hard luggage covers can be stored under the boot floor itself if you remove them. 

BMW 3 Series GT

 

Verdict | Design | Interior | Technology | Performance | Safety | Specs | Running Costs | Pricing

Technology & Connectivity: ★★★★★★★☆☆☆ (7/10)

Like its 3 Series saloon and Touring relatives the GT comes with a good level of standard connectivity, with the choice to extend it extensively and expensively. All come with BMW ConnectedDrive services which incorporates sat nav, DAB audio, Bluetooth connection and BMW Apps interface, Emergency Call, Online Services and Real Time Traffic Information.

There’s USB connectivity and Bluetooth for charging and syncing your smartphone and DAB audio in all. To that there’s the choice of optional packs like the Innovation Package that extends that ConnectedDrive physically - the screen being bigger and a head up display being added - as well as the services within it, it gaining things like Online entertainment, a concierge service, WIFI hotspot and enhanced Bluetooth and wireless phone charging potential. 

If you can live without the WIFI and head-up display the Media Package BMW Professional gains everything else listed, or the Professional Plus gets back that head-up display but loses things like the WIFI hotspot and wireless charging. Choose wisely, then, and note that if you want Apple Carplay it’s another add-on that requires more outlay.  

BMW 3 Series GT

 

Verdict | Design | Interior | Technology | Performance | Safety | Specs | Running Costs | Pricing

Performance & Handling: ★★★★★★★★☆☆ (8/10)

Performance

While it’s aimed at attracting a slightly different audience to its 3 Series relations, the GT obviously features the same engine choices. That’s with the exception of the smallest petrol and diesel offerings, the GT range starting with the 320i and 318d units. That means all manage a 0-62mph time of under 10 seconds, with the volume selling 320i and 320d models achieving 8sec and 7.8sec respectively. That increases by 0.1sec if you choose the automatic transmission. If they’re not fast enough for you the 330i gets to 62mph in 6.1sec, and the 340i shaves another second off that, but the quickest GTs are the 330d xDrive and 335d xDrive which make use of the xDrive’s four-wheel drive traction and the diesel’s sizeable low rev torque to allow 5.4sec and 4.9sec times. 

Not that buyers are as likely to be focussed on performance as they might be in a 3 Series, but all can be considered brisk. While it’s tempting to focus on the very quickest, the highest selling are rightfully the 320d models, the 183bhp four-cylinder a very compelling choice thanks to its combination of good day-to-day performance combined with pocket-friendly consumption. The 3 GT comes as standard with the six-speed manual, it shifting accurately though needing a good push through its gate. That makes the easy optional eight-speed automatic well worth consideration, the automatic also bringing the benefit of improved economy and emissions. 

Handling and comfort

Rear-wheel drive is standard in all but the range-topping 335d xDrive, and, unless you live in particularly remote area, it’s not worth the additional outlay and economy penalty that xDrive brings. Fundamentally the 3 Series GT is imbued with the same driving characteristics of its 3 Series relations, only the fine handling balance is complimented with a nod more towards comfort than it is outright agility. It still turns in convincingly, but the improved ride comfort is notable, that slightly softening the feeling of alertness, but its deliberate and a sacrifice well considered given the GT’s more comfort-orientated goals. 

You get a 3 Series then that’s a bit more adept at smothering the worst that UK roads offer, even more so if you choose the optional M Sport adaptive suspension. It brings variable damping, which on its normal mode rides with real civility and control. That’s not to be confused with M Sport suspension, which comes as standard with the M Sport, it firmer, and upsetting the 3 GT’s ride. As with elsewhere in the line-up that stiffer set-up can be deleted for free, it worthwhile doing so if you want the M Sport looks without losing its supple ride quality. Refinement is good in all, wind, road and engine noise all nicely hushed. The diesel only gets vocal if you rev it, which given it produces its best in the first half of the rev-counter’s sweep you’ll rarely ever find cause for doing.  

Recommended engine: 320d Luxury Auto

0-62mph

7.7sec

Fuel economy

62.8mpg

Emissions

118g/km CO2

BMW 3 Series GT

 

Verdict | Design | Interior | Technology | Performance | Safety | Specs | Running Costs | Pricing

Safety Features: ★★★★★★★☆☆☆ (7/10)

The 3 Series GT is older than its rivals, and that’s demonstrated by its standard equipment list. Yes, there’s airbags, electronic stability and traction control systems and ABS braking but to get collision mitigation you need to trawl the options list for the Driving Assistant package. It bundles City Collision Mitigation, Forward Collision Warning, Lane Departure Warning and Preventative Pedestrian Protection into one package, and at under £400 it really should be standard fit. If you want that, and more, pick the Active Security package, which adds Lane Change Warning, Dynamic Safety and electrically folding exterior mirrors with anti-dazzle.

The 3 Series GT hasn’t been individually tested by EuroNCAP, but given it shares its underpinnings with the 3 Series it’s not unreasonable to suggest it would match its five star score. Indeed, with its longer wheelbase and higher hip point, it’s likely adult and child protection will exceed the already impressive scores the saloon achieves.

BMW 3 Series GT

 

Verdict | Design | Interior | Technology | Performance | Safety | Specs | Running Costs | Pricing

Specs and Trim Levels: ★★★★★★★☆☆☆ (7/10)

Colours

If you don’t want to pay extra for paint then your GT will be either white or black in a non-metallic finish. To that BMW adds the choice of nine metallic choices, the bulk of which are subtle dark hues, which suit the GT well. There’s a bright red, but we genuinely cannot recall ever seeing a GT finished in anything so bold. One additional colour is offered, M Sport customers additionally able to have their GT finished in Estoril Blue metallic.

After relatively limited exterior colours BMW allows huge choice inside. There are, depending on your model selection, as many as ten differing leather colours. Mix these with the plentiful combination of wood, aluminium, chrome and lacquer finishes to the interior and there’s plenty of scope for personalisation to your GT. 

Trim Levels

SE trim starts the range, it followed by Sport then Luxury and headed by M Sport. There’s no M Sport Shadowline like the rest of the 3 Series line-up, likewise the GT isn’t offered in plug-in hybrid iPerformance guise like the saloon. 

That entry-level trim comes decently equipped, with ConnectedDrive, DAB, Bluetooth, two-zone air conditioning, an automatic tailgate, LED headlights and Park Distance Control. All also benefit from BMW’s Drive Performance Control that allows you to switch between ECO PRO, Comfort, Sport and Sport+ modes). Sport gains smarter exterior styling thanks to high gloss trim inserts, while inside it adds sports seats. Luxury gains what it suggests, with more equipment, leather upholstery and some chrome, while M Sport adds focus both in how it drives, and looks.

Size and Dimensions

Length

4,828mm

Width

2,047mm

Height

1,508mm

Max towing weight unbraked - braked

745kg – 1,800kg

BMW 3 Series GT

 

Verdict | Design | Interior | Technology | Performance | Safety | Specs | Running Costs | Pricing

Running Costs & Fuel Economy: ★★★★★★★☆☆☆ (7/10)

If, as most buyers do, you opt for the 320d you’ll benefit from a fine blend of good performance mated to excellent economy. Unlike the more fleet-focussed volume selling saloon, the GT does without the most advanced elements of BMW’s EfficientDynamics equipment – there are no ED specific models – but our recommended choice in the range, the 320d Luxury auto, achieves an official combined consumption figure of 62.8mpg and emits just 118g/km CO2. Opt for the 19-inch wheels and both drop slightly, to 61.4mpg and 120g/km, that CO2 gain being enough to push it into another band if you’re looking at your P11D value and tax liability. That’s true too of xDrive four-wheel drive, which will add to both the initial purchase price and long-term running costs.

BMWs residual values are typically strong, though the 3 GT’s more niche nature and slightly less desirable style might have a slight knock-on effect when it comes to selling it. Insurance should be highly competitive, and BMW offering its own if you want it. Overall it’ll be cheaper to buy and run either a 3 Series saloon or Touring, so you should be sure that you really want or need the GT attributes to plump for it.  

Reliability and servicing

Like all modern BMWs, servicing is dictated by the vehicle itself, being dependent on use and mileage. Reliability should be good, though BMW has had something of a fall from grace in the most recent and respected consumer satisfaction and reliability surveys.

Minor

Variable - condition based

Major

Variable - condition based

BMW 3 Series GT

 

Verdict | Design | Interior | Technology | Performance | Safety | Specs | Running Costs | Pricing

Pricing: ★★★★★★☆☆☆☆ (6/10)

More expensive than its more familiar relations, the 3 Series GT can, with some unrestrained option ticking, become expensive. Indeed, our 320d Luxury auto choice is actually more expensive than a 520d SE, which comes with a standard auto and all the benefits of a newer model. Indeed - whether you're a retail buyer or business user - we’d take a long hard look at the 5 Series, which is more efficient, safer and better equipped as standard.

Recommendations

Luxury Seeker

330d Luxury model is difficult to find fault with, plenty of effortless performance, and the eight-speed auto and leather upholstery as standard, too. 

Company Car buyer

The 320d Luxury auto adds a bit over the SE, but the P11D increase is worth it, just stick to the standard alloy wheels if you don’t want to go up a tax band.

Car Enthusiast

The 335d xDrive very much lives up to the GT’s name, being a crushingly capable, fast, competent, all-season, all-rounder.

Rivals

Audi A5 Sportback

Visually the Audi has the BMW beaten, as it does inside, but the 3 GT is a better drive.

BMW 5 Series

Not a hatchback, but it’s bigger, better equipped, and newer, and available for much the same money.

Volkswagen Arteon

VW’s push upmarket with this stylish, spacious hatchback, but good as it is, it’s mainstream in a premium class.

Mercedes-Benz GLC Coupe

Genre hopping to get into this SUV coupe, but the GLC offers similar performance and prestige, if at a slightly higher price point. 

Mercedes-Benz E-Class

Like the 5 Series above, the E-Class is available for 3 GT money, and it’s newer and more sophisticated, too.  

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