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2013 BMW 328i GT – BMWBlog Test Drive

Featured Posts, Test Drives | August 27th, 2013 by 12
BMW GT3

When BMW set out to build a Gran Turismo variant of the 3 Series, one could have surmised that it would turn out to be …

When BMW set out to build a Gran Turismo variant of the 3 Series, one could have surmised that it would turn out to be like a smaller version of the 5-Series GT. But just lay eyes on this new 3er GT and you know that you’re in store for something completely different.

First off, though, we should be judging this car as an addition to the 3 Series range and not necessarily comparing it to its larger sibling. But it doesn’t really look like a 3-Series either now, does it? The 3 Series GT is larger than the standard 3er in all respects. It’s wider, longer by 200 mm, has a stretched wheelbase (by 110 mm) and is taller too. Essentially, this car is its own model that just happens to be called the 3-Series GT.

2013 BMW 328i GT – BMWBlog Test Drive

So what impresses first is how roomy the car is. You can see those extra wheelbase centimeters in the legroom available to rear passengers (75 mm more) and the physical stance the car takes is deceiving, looking like a slick coupe almost, with a soft sloping fastback line that doesn’t give away how big the trunk really is. This is in contrast to the bulky-looking back end of a 5-Series GT.

Open that fastback tailgate and you have 520 liters of luggage space, which triples to 1,600 liters with the rear seats down. Sit inside, and you notice the extra headroom over the standard 3-Series. The driving position also feels just slightly raised compared to its 3-Series brethren, although, it is actually a full 59 mm, which makes it easy to see all around you. It’s a big car but the GT refuses to give you any sense of bloatedness. It’s like its dimensions make perfect sense.

2013 BMW 328i GT – BMWBlog Test Drive

On the Road

Once you sit yourself down behind the wheel of this 328i GT Modern Line, you have to stick with the notion that this is an independent BMW item. Of course, being larger and heavier, it’s not going to handle like the sedan or Touring, but the GT does give you a ride worthy of a Gran Turismo-branded car. Throw this thing into corners and it responds with a confident balance of rigidity and give. The GT aims to keep you comfortable while still providing a sporty feel through the relatively taught steering and suspension. And you can really feel the difference between the 4 drive modes. Put this thing in Sport mode and it can rage in its own way. What the 328i GT lacks in excitement, it certainly makes up for in a more subtle type of ride that still keeps you satisfied.

2013 BMW 328i GT – BMWBlog Test Drive

But aside from Gran Turismo comfort and space, the engine here is its own delight. Coupled with the ZF 8-speed automatic transmission, the 2.0 liter twin-scroll turbo has a refreshing maturity to it. The powerplant also delivers great fuel economy – 6.4 liters/100 km – although to achieve that you have to do a considerable amount of your driving in Eco mode where the throttle goes leaden and has the engine punching below its weight. Keeping it mostly in Comfort and Sport mode, and pushing the car at times to test its handling, I got away with a real-world fuel-economy of 8.4 liters/100 km.

2013 BMW 328i GT – BMWBlog Test Drive

Output on the 2.0 liter turbo is 180 kW / 245 PS (241 bhp) with a torque rating of 350 Nm (258 lb-ft). That provides plenty of heave for this GT, especially with full torque already coming online at 1,250 rpm. The engine is quiet and supple and you would think technology had jumped ahead about 10 years. You have to remind yourself that this is a 2.0 liter, four-cylinder engine and BMW has done such a crafty engineering job with the twin-scroll turbo here that it’s difficult to describe its workings. Loath to sound cliched and repetitive, but this feels like a natural-breathing 3.0 liter unit. This is the perfect option for those who truly prefer petrols over diesels even if today’s BMW diesels are some of the best and quietest in the world.

Experience

This was our summer vacation ride and I have to admit I thoroughly enjoyed my time with it. I even got used to the frameless doors, which I had never liked before. We took the car to the resort town of Ascona in Ticino, the Italian-speaking canton of Switzerland. Of course, the 3-Series GT fit right in there alongside more expensive fare from the likes of Audi, BMW and Mercedes-Benz. Sizing it up against the competition, the 3-Series GT really looks luxurious in a way that’s above its class and going beyond its 3-Series roots.

2013 BMW 328i GT – BMWBlog Test Drive

Crossing the Alps, the car made our mountain driving dreamy, the GT simply floating up and over the passes, swinging gently around each switchback (done in Sport mode). The small rear spoiler raising itself and providing some extra stability on the speedy autobahn stretches. Also looking pretty cool too. A car with an identity that provides a unique driver experience.

Final Thoughts

  • A good alternative to a 5-Series
  • The 2.0 liter turbo petrol is superb
  • An abiding travel companion
  • JRobUSC

    I just saw my first two 328xi GT’s at the local dealer. MUCH better looking than the 5GT. Actually, much better looking than I was expecting, period. I saw them side by side with new 3-Series sedans and while the GT’s sat a hair higher in back, the “height” of the rear end (from bottom of rear bumper to top of trunk lid) looked similar to the sedan, the rear hatch doesn’t have any of the bulbousness of the 5GT. Where the 5GT looks tank-like, the 3GT is much sleeker, there’s a lot of A5 Sportback/A7 in the shape of the 3GT. Both cars were Luxury Lines with the saddle interior and wood trim with inlay. That particular combination is gorgeous inside (the aluminum light bars on the doors was a nice touch), and they were unbelievably spacious. Hopefully customers take a look at it before writing it off simply because of the stigma the media heaved onto the 5GT. They don’t even look related. The doors are fully frameless, like a real coupe (no 5GT or even 6GC-style “tail” on the back of the rear windows), the visibility was better than the 5GT, and it seemed like even the trunk was bigger. The only thing I did not like were the chrome air breather vents on the side. First thing I’d do is swap those off for body color. But otherwise I’d definitely consider getting one myself.

    • bmwblogromania

      The 3GT is def better looking, but the A7 is sleek also.

  • Giom

    Must say, it also impressed me more than I was expecting. By that, I mean, I’ll take the 3GT over the 5GT. It is obvious BMW has learnt a lot from the 5 and used it to good effect in the 3. This car is outright gorgeous in person.

  • bfd

    Sorry to be the rotten apple, but can someone tell what was wrong with the Touring and why BMW refuses to bring it over to the US? I know sales weren’t high, but it was any worst than the bloated 5GT thing!

    This car does look better than the 5GT, but the 3 Series Touring is still better looking. Good Luck!

    • http://www.bmwblog.com Horatiu B.

      Just not enough demand for it.

      • bfd

        That’s true, but has the 5GT been a better seller than the Touring? I’ve seen BMW’s group sales report and the 5 Series seems to sell like hotcakes. However, they never say how many GTs are sold. The last I’ve heard it wasn’t good. Further, by removing the Touring from the US market, those same buyers have chosen to get a MB wagon instead of jumping into a GT. So, what does your sources say about GT sales?

        Then again,BMW is bringing out the 3GT, so it mustn’t be that bad…Good Luck!

    • mattU

      I don’t know why the 5er touring isn’t available in the US considering how awful the 5GT looks. 3er Touring is available in the US as 328i and 328d, but after seeing the 3GT in person (really does look pretty good), I think there’s going to be very few touring models sold given the additional space the GT provides for the same price.

      • http://www.bmwblog.com Horatiu B.

        The 3 GT def looks better in person and it’s pretty good looking with the M Sport package.

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