In a nutshell, BMW’s 3 Series GT is essentially a grand tourer version of the 3 Series sedan which is meant to offer a more luxurious proposition with the added looks of a coupe. However, there’s more to the 330i GT than just visual appeal, which we have outlined in this review. In fact, petrol-heads who were missing the performance oriented 330i in the 3 Series arsenal have all the more reason to take a look at this offering in the GT disguise.
We drove the BMW 330i GT over the last few days and here’s the gist on how it fared.
From the front, the GT looks very much like a 3 Series except for the reworked bumper that incorporates some new chrome trim. But the true identity of the BMW GT can be seen in the profile section that shows off the sloping roofline which gives away an unmistakeable coupe posture, the charming turbine-blade alloy design, a spoiler that pops in/out as per the speed and those exquisite looking frameless doors.
Move on to the rear section of the GT and the extended glass area with the lengthened C-pillar gives one the intuition that this cabin is going to feel a lot more spacious than the regular 3 sedan, and we will cover this bit in the next section. Now, although you may not spot it at first glance, the boot section is mildly redesigned with the tweaked tail lamps, some restyled sheet metal in between, and a new bumper to make it stand out from the 3 Series gang.
The interiors of the GT is a familiar place to be in due to the similarity with the 3 Series and it also exhibits the quality standards that we’ve come to expect from the BMW brand. So you get the same dual tone black-beige dashboard that’s complimented by the silver trim, piano black and wooden inserts splashed all across the cabin. While all the controls are fairly accessible to the user, the slim and long centre display makes using the quick iDrive interface quite interactive.
At the front, the GT’s well contoured and cushioned seats offer appropriate back and thigh support along with lots of headroom but the wide centre console did tend to get in the way of my left leg every now and then. At the rear though, it’s a different picture altogether. Occupants can enjoy the well contoured seat with loads of cushioning, lots of knee room, and a substantial amount of headroom due to the slightly elevated and sloping design of the C-pillar.
Undoubtedly, the head space liberated at the rear, combined with the panorama sunroof lends this cabin a more airy experience than its sibling, the 3 sedan. Being a grand tourer means there has to be ample luggage space for that long drive. And the GT fares well with the 1600-litres of boot space on offer with the seats folded. However, the only downside here is that the spare wheel actively eats into the space that available.
The luxury Line trim offered with the 330i GT gets a panorama sunroof, leather upholstery, wood trim, chrome slat grille, adaptive head lights, active rear spoiler and a powered tail gate. There’s also front and rear parking sensors with rear view camera, iDrive with DVD drive and a 20GB hard drive with navigation, ABS, cornering brake control, dynamic stability control, traction control and tyre pressure indicator to name a few.
The 330i GT has a 2.0-litre turbocharged motor that displaces 252bhp and 350Nm of torque under that hood and its power is unleashed to the rear wheels through an eight speed transmission. As with all BMW petrol motors, this one is silent, smooth and packs enough performance to keep the driver entertained. With hardly any wheel-spin, even while enthusiastically launching off the line, this motor lays down the power on the tarmac extremely well with minimal turbo lag. And this shows in the 100kmph sprint from standstill which comes up in a swift 6.31 seconds, before the motor goes on to haul the car to 150kmph in 13.18 seconds. Even overtaking is a breeze thanks to the 40-100kmph and 20-80kmph runs in kick-down, taking just 4.96 and 3.94 seconds respectively.
There are four preset modes on offer- Eco Pro, Comfort, Sport and Sport +. As you’d expect, Sport+ is the mode to select if you want the best performance out of the motor and by-default, it switches electronic stability control (ESC) off. In ‘Sport+’, the transmission holds a lower gear at all times to give you instant thrust as soon as the pedal is tapped while it revs all the way to the 7000rpm red line. Though Sport mode offers similar responses as ‘Sport+’, what sets them apart is that the former mode does not hold the gear at the rev-limit as it upshifts automatically at 6700rpm. Furthermore, Sport mode upshifts two seconds after you go off the throttle which isn’t the case with ‘Sport+’, as it continues to hold the gear even if you let go of the accelerator pedal. We also noticed that the gears downshift to the red-line too.
In Comfort mode however, the response from the motor is not as aggressive as the Sport modes. And once the driver backs off the accelerator pedal, the transmission upshifts multiple times within a few seconds. This brings us to the Eco Pro mode which is slightly less responsive than the Comfort mode. But the main differentiator here is that it coasts as soon as the driver gets off the throttle, to increase efficiency. Now, while driving in Eco Pro or Comfort mode, if you ever feel the need for an instant thrust of performance, all you have to do is use the paddle shifters to downshift instantly and get the much needed surge.
Let’s talk about the ride and handling now. The GT rolls on a softer suspension setup that carries more ground clearance than the 3 Series and there’s no doubt that the added height and damping is a boon while travelling on potholed roads. Despite it being slightly softer sprung than the 3 Series, it continues to offer a reasonably spirited drive. However, unlike the composed and agile handling of the 3 regular Series, especially around tight corners, the experience from the GT is one that exhibits more roll and some vertical movement especially while going over undulations and bumps at higher speeds.
On the flip side though, this a more forgiving ride which translates into a more comfortable proposition overall, especially when you look at it from a tourer perspective which is what this GT was intended for. Also, the GT’s steering is accurate and weighs up nicely as speeds rise. While the Comfort and Eco Pro modes work in favour of making the steering lighter, Sport and Sport+ modes get the steering to feel heavier and sportier. On the go, there’s enough feedback coming in from the wheels which allows the driver to confidently push the GT to quite an extent, like when one is cornering hard. On the other hand, although the brakes were able to get the car to stop as intended, there’s hardly any feedback from the pedals as they felt wooden.
|Model||3 Series GT|
|Max. Power (bhp@rpm)||252 @ 5200|
|Max. torque (Nm@rpm)||350 @ 1450-4800|
|Fuel Capacity (in litres)||57|
|Tyre size||225/50 R18|
|18-inch multi-spoke alloy wheels||Yes|
|Sports seats with alcantara upholstery||Yes|
|Parking sensors with rear view camera||Yes|
|520litres of boot space||Yes|
|iDrive with DVD drive and 20GB hard drive with navigation||Yes|
|ABS with cornering brake control||Yes|
|powered tail gate||Yes|
The 330i GT stays true to its expected virtues – which is to offer a classy and comfortable long distance traveller version of the 3 sedan combined with a cavernous boot space to carry all the luggage involved. There’s quite a bit of performance and dynamics in store for the driver too here. Sure, you could be nit-picky and stack some downsides to the package like the softer (than 3 Series) suspension and the similarity with the 3 sedan, but other than this, there’s nothing that really marks this car down for what it truly is.
Retailing for roughly 50.37 lakh (ex-showroom Mumbai), the biggest thing going for the 330i GT is the exclusivity of the design and the 330i engine package which isn’t available on the regular 3 Series sedan. If you are on the lookout for a more practical version of the 3 Series without any compromises on performance, then it seems the wait has just ended.
Pictures: Kapil Angane