The 5 Series GT never did well in India. It was meant to sit between the regular 5 Series and the 7 Series to plug a gap that no one saw till BMW mentioned it existed. But, the 5 GT courtesy being an import was just too expensive. It wasn't good looking either, so the aspirational bit went out the window as well. No wonder it failed.
So, it's a little surprising that BMW has decided to launch yet another GT or Gran Turismo in India. But, this time BMW is playing it right. The new GT will be relatively more affordable, and it is certainly better looking; if nothing else, its design is certainly more pleasing and harmonious than the 5 GT. However, there's one thing it still shares with the 5 GT (besides the GT suffix, of course); it too is here to plug a gap that we did not know existed, till of course BMW mentioned it. It will sit between the 3 Series and the 5 Series and therefore, it is appropriately called the 3 GT.
The 3 GT will be launched at the Auto Expo and will carry a price tag of Rs 45 lakh for the base 320d version. And it's only the 320d that will be sold in India initially followed by possibly the 328i and the top of the line 335i. Internationally, the 3 GT is also available in the 320i and the 318d guise and with all wheel drive. In India though, the 3 GT will only come in rear wheel drive form.
The 3 GT is based on the 3 Series platform but it occupies more space in all planes. It is 200mm longer and 17mm wider; it has a 25mm higher ground clearance; and it sits on a 110mm longer wheelbase than the regular 3 Series sedan. The end result is a car that is roomier than the 3 Series. Notably, the rear knee and shoulder room have increased and BMW claims the rear knee room is more than the 5 Series even. The boot is a whole lot bigger too and with a hatch like opening, it is easy to access as well. The rear seats fold (60:40) and the already large 520 litres expands to 1600 litres with the seats down.
The increase in overall interior space is obvious the moment you step in. The larger glass area and the higher seating contribute towards it. And the seats themselves are comfortable to be in. The regular 3 Series already had good seats but with higher seating on the 3 GT, the thigh support both front and back has improved. The seats are large too.
The first of the 3 GTs to be sold in India - the 320d - comes with a 4-cylinder diesel engine. The 1995cc makes 184PS and 320Nm of peak torque, which is the same as on the 3 Series sedan we have in India. The performance, as a result, is blunter compared to the 3 sedan. 0-100kmph claim for this 3 GT is 7.9 seconds and the car can manage a top speed of 230kmph. It's a refined and quiet engine till about 3000rpm, but then on, one can rear the noise and feel some vibrations via the floor. It isn't obtrusive and is in fact similar to the sedan, but given the steeper pricing of the 3 GT, we expected a quieter cabin throughout the working range of the engine. The 8-speed automatic ZF 'box though, is lovely. It is one of favourite auto 'boxes in the luxury class, and it doesn't disappoint no the 3 GT either.
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