BMW is bringing a larger and more spacious version of its 3-series to India. Known as the GT, it is essentially a longer, wider and taller 3-series saloon, much like the 5-series GT that’s already on sale here.
The 5-series GT was a unique car when it first launched and BMW even managed to sell a limited number of them. Now the company thinks it makes more sense to bring the 3-series GT here. It is BMW’s attempt at giving us a car that’s got the space of an SUV and the performance of a saloon.
The 3-series saloon is the current class benchmark, with its superb combination of punchy engines, space, BMW-trademark dynamic handling, and comfort. The GT essentially comes with all these traits, but with the extra practicality of added space.
It is clearly a bigger car – it’s 200mm longer, 19mm wider and 79mm taller than the saloon. The most important bit, however, is that it’s got a 110mm longer wheelbase, which translates to much more legroom in the rear. In fact, rear seat space is as much as in a 5-series, and there’s plenty of headroom as well. This car will be ideal if you want to be chauffeur-driven, and you can even recline the rear seats. It’s got a cavernous boot as well, with a Skoda-like lift-back hatch opening. The GT’s tailgate also opens electrically, and that is sure to add to the convenience factor. Also, the rear seats can be split 40:20:40 and folded down to take the boot space up to a whopping 1,600 litres. The GT also has flexible seat backs at the rear – you can angle them either for a more laidback seating position or for 33 litres of additional boot space.
Like with the 5-series GT, this car’s looks are a bit difficult to get your head around. It’s not that the 3 GT looks awkward overall; in fact, the more stylised nose, flanks and tail look very attractive. What takes a bit of getting used to is the high roof, which gives the GT proportions that are neither here nor there.
The interiors are exactly the same as the standard 3-series, with the same soft-touch trim. Since it is slightly taller, you are perched slightly higher than in the saloon, but the driving position is, in typical BMW fashion, fantastic.
Our market has seen a polarisation towards diesel in the past few years, so BMW thinks it’s wiser to bring this car to India with only diesel engines – BMW’s quite magnificent 3.0-litre straight-six diesel in the form of the 330d, and the four-cylinder 320d. BMW believes that buyers who are putting money down on the GT would prefer to have the option of a higher-capacity engine too. The 3-series range in India currently doesn’t have a straight six in its line-up and selling the GT with the 3.0 diesel engine may appeal to performance-oriented buyers. Power is sent via an eight-speed gearbox to the rear wheels because, well, it’s a BMW. And the GT is quick; BMW claims a 0-100kph time of less than eight seconds for the 330d.
Naturally, because of the difference in its proportions and the additional 200kg over the saloon it has to lug around, it is unlikely to handle quite as well as the saloon. Still, don’t ever write off BMW – it has pulled off miracles in the handling department in the past.
BMW will launch the car at the 2014 Auto Expo and it will bring the car here as a CBU, and with the way our rupee is dropping, you can expect a price somewhere in the range of Rs 45-50 lakh. What buyers will get, however, will be a 3-series with the space, comfort and practicality of a 5-series; one that is more suitable to being chauffeured around in. The fact that it looks more upright and larger adds crucial appeal as well.