BMW 3 Series GranTurismo - The Frugal Flyer.
When someone says GT in India, they usually associate the word to something fast and low. Little do we know that the word GT i.e. GranTurismo are cars built to cross countries and continents. The genre of cars that are supposed to comfortable, practical and extremely efficient. BMW started off the culture for GT cars in the late 90's with the 3 series coupe, followed by the much loved 6 series and the 6 series GranCoupe, which had four doors, some more cup holders and a boot to swallow all the clothes from your wardrobe.
BMW later brought the 5 series GT which was big and roomy but it looked like an obese camel. It sold a few numbers but it wasn't a car you'll look back at when you park it. 4 year ago, the bavarian released the more suave GT in their 3 series line up (Codename : F34) and we will talk further about its updated avatar fitted with the most popular engine and gearbox setup and boasting some sporty goodies.
The 3 GT looks brilliant and a bit like a beefed up 3 series saloon, the wheelbase is 90mm longer, the is more space from the ground and it has some aerodynamic goodies as well, the track is a wee bit wider which improves the visual proportions quite significantly. I like the way GT embodies all the visual advantages of the saloon packed with the suave nature of a coupe. There is a wing at the end acting as a garnish but it is functional garnish. The active rear wing automatically deploys at 110 kmph and adds 280 kilograms of downforce at the rear giving more grip at triple digit speeds. It also increase aerodynamic efficiency hence significantly improving fuel economy on highway trips. The GT has the presence of a 5 series than a 3, the added 90mm of wheelbase does translate to the car looking longer and more premium indeed.
The car we have here is a 320d GT in its Sport trim. It is supposed to be basic and the entry point to the 3 Series GT range but to be honest, it is anything but basic. The car gets 18 inch alloy wheels, blacked out trims and vents, LED headlamps, paddle shifters and a big 10 point some inch touch screen which is as smooth as an iPad and comes with the iDrive controls with a touch pad on top, phew! Wait, there is a panoramic sunroof as standard too and that wing. Fly? Fly! The 320d is a 2 litre twin scroll turbo charged diesel motor with 190 hp and 400 Nm of torque, which on paper doesn't look too much but the way the engine harnesses the power down to the ground is very impressive indeed. 100 kmph from a standstill comes in at around 7 seconds which isn't slow. The front engine and rear wheel drive setup means that you can have some fun playing with the traction toys on a winding road.
On the inside, it is a typical 3 Series fair. Logically laid out buttons, rotors and switches. Large iDrive screen on top of the dashboard, ornage backlit dials and chunky BMW steering wheel. Infact, BMW has the best steering wheels in its class, they are grippy to hold and the paddle shifters behind them are well positioned. The dashboard gets leather treatment on the top which gives it a very upmarket feel. The iDrive screen is the latest generation with touch screen and a lot of new features in the software including the sport dials which display Power and Torque figures, just when you need them. There is a dual zone climate control system which is within the reach of the driver and are placed right below the Airconditioning vents. The gear lever design on the other hand, although doing service on almost all BMW cars is the best to hold and easiest to shift.
The driving position is excellent in the GT, the seats go down to the floor so that it can accomodate taller drivers with absolute ease. Pushing the seats all the way backward for taller drivers won't create a problem for the rear passengers either as the increase in wheelbase helps in creating more legroom for the ladies and gentlemen on the rear seat. The front seats come with 10 way electronical adjustment as standard which is a boon to get that perfect driving position without hurting a muscle. The rear seat on the other hand is one of the best thrones in the BMW line up and the most spacious in the 3 Series cars. The seats are well cusioned, provide excellent shoulder and knee room and because it is a notchback the headroom is considerably expansive. People with height above 6 feet will appreciate that their heads won't hit the roof liner. The rear AC vents do not have individual temperature controls but a high speed blower makes the rear seat a very comfortable place to be at.
As we go further towards the boot, we would find the party trick in the GT's kitty. It is a hatchback! Something similar we have seen with the likes of Audi A7, Skoda Superb and the former 5 Series GT. It creates a more accessible area for the boot which translates to more space for your lugguage. The boot of the 3 Series GT is so big that I was able to carry my entire kitchen's equipments i.e. a 5 burner hob, a 3 feet electric chimney and a 63 litre built in oven with the rear seat folded down. I am pretty sure if you plan to camp inside a car for a night with the seat folded down, it would not be a problem at all.
And last but not the least, the question that the entire country asks before making the final decision on a car, 'Kitna Deti Hai?'. In the city limits with a lighter foot the 3 Series GT was able to extract 15.4 kmpl which is impressive for a car of this caliber. What is more impressive is the fuel economy on the highway. We took the GT to the city of Lucknow from New Delhi, a total driving distance of 1300 kms on a return trip, the car managed to complete it in ONE FULL TANK! Giving us a fuel efficiency of 22.8 kmpl (in ECO PRO mode), which is bonkers!
In my opinion, the GT is more practical, better looking, and more economical to run car in the 3 series line up. It is much more spacious, has better aerodynamics and is a deal breaker with those delicious looking frameless doors. We can go on with a ten thousand word review about how desirable the GT is and it is that indeed, but most importantly it is something you would love spending your days and nights in without breaking a sweat. And with a price tag of 47.5 lac ex-showroom, it is on of the best machines money can buy. Period.