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The 3-series Gran Turismo, or GT, is BMW's attempt to stretch its hugely successful 3-series range, which until now comprised saloon and Touring iterations, even further.
BMW says the coupe is for people who lead active lifestyles and offers "the sporty appeal of a 3-series saloon with the practicality of a Touring in a unique and attractively designed package".
In terms of practicality, the car is 200mm longer and 80mm higher than the Touring, which gives rear seat passengers an extra 75mm of legroom over the estate model and makes it akin to the 5-series saloon. The boot is 25 litres larger at 520 litres too.
However, while the GT is good to drive, it's not as good as the Touring. Knocking it into Sport mode (one of four settings that also includes Comfort, Sport+ and Eco Pro) does make the steering instantly more responsive and the handling sharper, but the pay-off is harder suspension. Most drivers will opt for the softer, middle-of-the-road Comfort setting as the norm.
There are two 2.0-litre diesel engines, and on the positive side the 184hp version in the 320d tested here packs plenty of punch, carrying the car from 0-62mph in 7.9secs. It emits 129g/km CO2 (20% benefit-in-kind) for both six-speed manual and eight-speed auto gearboxes, and has an official combined economy figure of 57.6mpg. The 141hp 318d, meanwhile, emits 119g/km of CO2 and returns 62.8mpg, while there are also three petrol engines: the 320i, 328i and 335i.
Another area where the Touring comes out on top is in its pricing - the GT is £1300 more expensive. Consequently, the estate's cost per mile figure is 67.4 pence per mile, beating the GT's 70.8ppm.
Starting at £28,830, the 320d SE costs £31,310, although that includes 18-inch alloys, aircon, Bluetooth, USB, 6.5-inch display, and active rear spoiler. The Sport model is an extra £1000 and adds features including cruise control, park assist and satnav. One nifty option that's part of the £470 Comfort pack is the ability to open the boot by kicking your foot below the tailgate - a genius invention for anyone who has their hands full.
Although being a niche vehicle there are no direct rivals for the 3 GT, models outside of the BMW range such as the Audi A5 Sportback and the smaller new Mercedes CLA are expected to compete. For costs it's the Merc that tops this contest, coming in at 67.4ppm and with CO2 of 117g/km, a 40% taxpayer will fork out £189 BIK per month versus £214 for the GT. The Audi A5, meanwhile, fares worse but is only a touch behind the GT at 71.6p.
BMW has been down the GT route before when it launched the 5-series version in 2009, which was a definite Marmite car if ever there was one.
But to be fair to the German manufacturer, that model makes up a respectable 5% of 5-series sales. By comparison, the 3-series equivalent should account for 8% of overall 3-series volume in the UK, around 4000 cars in the first 12 months. The 318d is set to come a close second to the 320d with regards to sales.
The 3-series is a comfortable cruiser that will certainly win fans wanting something distinct and will be bought for its styling above anything else. However, for budget-minded fleets the extra cost is hard to justify versus a Touring.
BMW 3-series GT 320d Sport auto
Model price range
Service, maintenance and repair
Vehicle Excise Duty
Cost per mile
BIK 20/40% per month
Boot space min/max
A very attractive proposition, but figures won't add up for most fleets.