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Goodbye to all that: BMW 318d GT: Long-term Test

It did everything that was asked of it, and more, but the biggest problem lies in the minds of potential buyers, says Matt Joy

Having a good idea is only half the battle – possibly even less than half. The difficult bit tends to be convincing others that you’re not completely cracked.

And so it was with the 3GT. Because BMW has for many decades now fashioned its position as a creator of fabulous saloons, estates and coupes, but there appears to be something of a mental block for anything that doesn’t fit into that template.

:: Looks and image: I must admit that, before it arrived, I wasn’t sure whether I would gel with the Gran Turismo’s looks. But in the flesh, and with the Sport pack including 19-inch wheels, it looked the business (to these eyes at least). Particularly because the 3 Series saloon is pretty much everywhere and a little individuality goes a long way.

:: Space and practicality: Better still, the differing look is for a purpose, namely the extra space on the inside. It’s significantly longer than the saloon and Touring with more length in the wheelbase – although to look at, you wouldn’t think it was significantly bigger. The pay-off is in the back seats though that offer limo-like space. True, it wasn’t often than anyone taller than the kids travelled in the back, but as any parent knows, the more space, the better.

The same goes for the boot too. There’s more space than the 3 Series Touring with seats up or down. Over the six months the 3’s boot swallowed everything from a jet washer to a rabbit hutch and never batted an eyelid. The standard electric hatch and rear-mounted release for the rear seats came in exceptionally handy too.

:: Behind the wheel: ‘My’ 3 had the most humble of the diesel offerings, offering up a modest 143bhp but a very healthy 235lb.ft of torque. As diesels do, it loosened up as the miles rolled by and the performance was always more than enough. It was thrifty with it too, although the biggest hurdle with achieving good fuel economy was the driver. Over the six months it averaged 48mpg, and that was with me generally not behaving myself. On the rare occasions I gave it the full eco approach it would hit 70 or even 80 miles per gallon on a long run – I’m just always running late…

The other simple thing is that the 3 GT was great fun to drive. It steered and handled with the kind of precision that you don’t expect from a family car, and that just made it all the harder to behave myself. In truth, it spent plenty of time trudging up and down motorways, and the comfortable seats and good driving position made short work of that too.

:: Who would buy one?: So, basically, the biggest problem with the 3 GT is that people think they need a Touring or a saloon instead. Well by all means go right ahead, but given that the GT beats both for space, offers a better ride and is subtly different from all the other 3 Series out there, it’s worth seriously considering this instead.

 

BMW 318d Sport Gran Turismo, £31,575 list price, £41,945 as tested

Engine: 2.0-litre diesel producing 143bhp and 236lb.ft of torque

Transmission: Six-speed manual driving the rear wheels

Performance: Top speed 130mph (limited), 0-62mph in 9.6 seconds

Economy: 48.11mpg average, 82.1mpg best

Emissions: 119/gkm

Total mileage: 13,295

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Mother of three grown-up daughters I am the ultimate multi-tasker and am passionate about my role as Silversurfers Website Editor and Social Media Manager. Always on the lookout for all things that will interest and entertain our community. Fuelling fun for the young at heart!

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fred gannett
16th May 2014
0
Thanks for voting!
It's great - I have the 320 M Sport version. Looks good, handles great and reasonable economy on a trip. A £8 iPod wire (from ebay) completes the entertainment.
Mark Faulkner
9th May 2014
0
Thanks for voting!
If you want a spacious family car that handles and drives properly, try a Mondeo estate. With a serious bit of haggling you can get two of those for the price paid for that ugly piece of German marketing prowess.
James
28th Apr 2014
0
Thanks for voting!
What has gone wrong.. How many models do they have, I've lost count. The 5 series is the only car that looks and does what it says. The new 3 series is too small and too pointy.I can't understand why the m sport 1 series has a more agreesive front end than the 3 series. (performance kit can be bought but only for saloons - lower front skirt might help a little). The inside door handles wobble as standard and the finish/ build quality isn't what it used to be. I want a car smaller and more econmical than the 530d estate. So as a 330d driver was looking forward to the new release. Half of all the 3 series estates I looked at had the rear door seals popping off and the pointy front end is perfect if my kids wanted a car to drive. So perhaps the GT is the solution. Nope its as uggly as the 5 series Gt, just take a look at the depreciation on a 4 year old one. Its a good buy if you don't mind driving a car that looks like an over weight middle aged man. perhaps it would suit me after all... From a Disappointed BMW fan.

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