BMW 3 Series Gran Turismo Hatchback Leasing

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BMW 3 Series

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Whatcar? Review

For

In many ways, the GT is more practical than a 3 Series Touring, and it doesn't cost that much more to buy.

Against

It isn't much cheaper than a 5 Series Touring, which is both bigger and classier inside. Other versions of the 3 Series are better to drive.

Summary

A surprisingly practical take on the 3 Series, which merits consideration if you don’t like the idea of a traditional estate

Performance

The GT is available with a trimmed-down range of the engines from the 3 Series saloon. Diesel buyers can choose between 141bhp and 181bhp 2.0-litre engines, while the petrol line-up consists of 181bhp and 242bhp 2.0-litre turbos, plus a 302bhp 3.0-litre twin-turbo. The 181bhp 320d is punchy enough and flexible, while the 302bhp 335i engine delivers seriously strong acceleration.

Ride & Handling

So far we’ve only driven cars with adaptive M Sport suspension, an option that allows you to vary the stiffness of the damping. However, even in 'Sport' mode, body movements aren't especially well controlled. This isn’t all that surprising, given the GT's relatively high centre of gravity. You're better off leaving the suspension in 'Comfort' mode, because you benefit from a smoother ride. Sharp-edged bumps still send jolts through the cabin at lower speeds, but high-speed comfort is impressive.

Refinement

There's a considerable amount of road- and suspension noise over coarse surfaces, and the wind can be heard whistling past the door mirrors at motorway speeds. The 181bhp 2.0-litre diesel isn't the quietest four-cylinder engine we've tried, either, although the six-cylinder 335i petrol is silky smooth and delivers an equally impressive soundtrack.

Buying & Owning

The GT costs more to buy than an equivalent 3 Series Touring and isn't quite as fuel-efficient. However, the 320d model (predicted to be the biggest seller) still averages almost 58mpg and emits 129g/km of CO2, so it's far from pricey to run as a company car. The lower-powered 318d model is even more frugal, while even the range-topping 335i six-cylinder petrol can manage a not-too-shabby 35mpg.

Quality & Reliability

Up front, you'll find exactly the same dashboard as in a 3 Series saloon or Touring, which means the materials are reasonably classy, and most of the switches (stereo volume controls aside) work with a solid, positive action. BMW’s reliability record is reasonable rather than outstanding, but there shouldn’t be many unforeseen problems with this car.

Safety & Security

Standard safety equipment includes six airbags and stability control, which incorporates ABS, Cornering Brake Control, Dynamic Brake Control and Dynamic Traction Control. The GT hasn’t been crash-tested by Euro NCAP, but the 3 Series saloon on which it’s based achieved a five-star score. Among the options is the Active Security Package (with lane change and lane departure-warning systems), while an alarm is also standard on every model.

Behind The Wheel

Visibility is better than in other versions of the 3 Series, partly because of the larger surface areas of glass, but also because of the GT's elevated driving position. You sit at roughly the same height as in an X1 SUV. The iDrive infotainment system – fitted as standard to all versions – is brilliantly simple to operate; you twist a large rotary dial on the centre console to scroll through the various on-screen menus, then press the dial to select your desired function.

Space & Practicality

The GT has around 8cm more rear legroom than a 3 Series Touring, meaning there's roughly the same amount of space as in the back of a 5 Series. The GT has a bigger boot than other versions of the 3 Series, too. Each of the three rear seats can be folded independently of one another and lie virtually flat. That swooping tailgate means the load bay isn't particularly tall, but there's some under-floor storage which can also be used to stow the two-piece parcel shelf when it isn't required.

Equipment

Even entry-level SE versions get 18-inch alloys, dual-zone climate control, Bluetooth, a USB socket and rear parking sensors. Sport trim adds sports seats and a sports steering wheel, while Modern brings part-leather upholstery, and Luxury and M Sport models get full leather.