BMW F34 3 Series GT First Drive by Autocar
Most people wonder what is it with this GT phase that BMW is going through. The improvements of a GT car over a touring version are noticeable but still not so big that you have to create a whole new model. Looking at the overall appearance of the car, you might see a resemblance to the X6's shape. That might be hint you need to solve this puzzle.
In the US, SUVs are usually used by familists in order to solve their problems regarding space. Touring versions have never been an American favorite, not even in their "golden age" when cars like the Buick Estate Wagon (with those ugly wooden side panels) were popular. That's why SUVs are traditionally the family car in America.
However, using a SUV has high maintenance costs and other disadvantages. That's why the GT seems like a more practical choice. It gives you the same amount of space, a good driving position and lower maintenance costs than an SUV. That is where BMW is heading. A more efficient, less costly SUV-like car, with the same space on the inside but which takes up less space on the street and is not called "Touring" or "Estate" or anything like that but instead has a fancy name like "GT".
The 3 Series GT is actually a great Tourer. When driving along quiet, long roads it's a pleasure to drive and due to the increase in size you can actually take 3 adults on the back seat for a complete family experience and they wouldn't complain about neck or knee pain for more than half an hour.
The tailgate opens automatically when sliding your foot under the rear bumper and can also be opened by pressing a button near the driver's door, which is a good thing, considering the size of the thing. The version the guys from Autocar drove had a 2-liter 184 HP engine that worked flawlessly, even though they claimed it to be a bit noisy. The 8-speed gearbox is a delight and very comfortable on daily use while also keeping the fuel consumption values in check.
Autocar complained that the sporty feeling is almost gone in this car, unless you go for the M Sport package. However, this is a car build according to what customers wanted. They asked for higher seating (for a more comfortable access in and out of the car), more space in the back and the boot and an overall more comfortable ride. The sporty feel of the 3 Series is not for everyone, and the GT has to be more comfortable for families.
If someone wants to drive fast and furious around bends, they should go for the F30 3 Series and get a 335i with the M Sports package. That will definitely quench your thirst for adrenaline. When it comes to comfort and family, the GT is the logical choice. However, the fact that BMW chose to offer the M Sport package for the GT (and it makes a big difference) shows that the Bavarian manufacturer thought about all of their customers and wanted to give familists the chance to go wild whenever they're alone.
❐ Check out the BMW F34 3 Series GT Test Drive photo gallery