The 2018 BMW 3 Series Gran Turismo is the pragmatist’s choice. It doesn’t have the well-proportioned grace of the sedan, nor the deliberate non-conformist air of the 3 Series wagon (both of which are in a separate review). But it is the roomiest, in terms of both rear passenger space and maximum cargo capacity. That’s because the 3 GT is stretched a little.
Cargo space is accessed through a hatchback, occupants will find the raised ride height (compared with a regular 3 Series) easy for entry and exit, and the driver has a more commanding view. Meanwhile, the standard-issue all-wheel drive system (called xDrive in BMW’s dictionary) provides extra stability and reassurance.
Other than that, the 3 Series GT is pretty much like any other 3 Series. Power comes from either a turbocharged 4-cylinder engine or a turbo inline-6, as found in the sedan, and the equipment list is similar.
What’s New for 2018?
A rearview camera becomes standard. There’s also been a shake-up of the options structure.
What We Like
Excellent engines; laudable fuel economy; decent amount of standard equipment; noticeably larger back seat than a regular 3 Series; useful hatchback cargo area
What We Don’t
Costs more than a 3 Series sedan and isn’t quite as sharp; Android Auto smartphone integration is not available
All-wheel drive is standard in both versions of the 3 Series GT, along with an 8-speed automatic transmission.
The 330i xDrive Gran Turismo is powered by a turbocharged 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine making 248 horsepower and 258 lb-ft of torque. According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), fuel consumption is 23 miles per gallon city, 33 mpg highway and 27 mpg combined, which is relatively impressive.
The 340i xDrive Gran Turismo has a turbocharged 3.0-liter inline-6 engine developing 320 hp and 330 lb-ft of torque. Fuel use is a respectable 20 mpg city/29 mpg hwy/23 mpg combined.
Both engines have a gasoline-saving stop/start feature.
Standard Features & Options
The 2018 BMW 3 Series Gran Turismo comes in 330i xDrive and 340i xDrive versions.
The 330i xDrive ($46,045) has 18-inch alloy wheels, LED lighting (including fog lights), rain-sensing wipers, heated/auto-dimming side mirrors, panoramic sunroof, power liftgate, ambient interior lighting, dual-zone automatic climate control with rear vents, 10-way power-adjustable front seats with driver’s-side memory, synthetic leather upholstery, paddle shifters, leather-wrapped multi-function steering wheel, rearview camera, Bluetooth, USB connectivity, satellite/HD radio, 9-speaker audio system with an auxiliary input and the iDrive infotainment system with a 6.5-in display.
The 340i xDrive ($51,895) adds the 6-cylinder engine, keyless entry/ignition, foot-activated power liftgate, Nappa leather for the steering wheel, 16-speaker Harman Kardon audio system and power lumbar adjustment for the front seats.
A Convenience Tier adds keyless entry, front-seat lumbar support and satellite radio (this is all standard in the 340i). A Premium Tier builds on that with a head-up display, navigation, 8.8-in infotainment screen, heated front seats, real-traffic updates and remote start. The Executive Tier includes the contents of the previous two tiers, then brings side-view/top-view cameras, configurable digital instrument cluster, adaptive LED headlights with automatic high beams and a semi-automated parking feature.
The Driving Assistance package adds forward-collision warning/mitigation with automatic braking and pedestrian detection, lane-departure warning and a driver fatigue monitor.
Individual options include adaptive cruise control, blind spot monitoring, wireless smartphone charging, Apple CarPlay, Wi-Fi, heated steering wheel, heated rear seats, Harman Kardon 16-speaker surround-sound system and 19-in alloy wheels.
The 3 Series GT provides 24.6 cu ft. of cargo space behind the rear seats and 56.8 cu ft. when those seats are flipped forward. Both figures outdo the wagon version of the 3 Series.
The 3 Series GT comes standard with 4-wheel anti-lock disc brakes, stability control and eight airbags (front, front side, front knee and full-length side curtain).
In government crash testing, the 3 Series GT received five stars out of five overall, including four stars for front impacts and five stars for side impacts. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) has made the 3 Series sedan a Top Safety Pick.
Behind the Wheel
The dashboard and switchgear are the same as the regular 3 Series. Where the GT sets itself apart is in the airiness of its taller, glassier cabin. The standard panoramic sunroof certainly helps, but the GT also has a stretched wheelbase that gives it the most rear legroom of any 3 Series variant, feeling more like a midsize crossover from the back seat than a modest hatchback.
The 330i xDrive’s 4-cylinder engine is remarkably strong and responsive, with great fuel economy. But the 340i xDrive’s inline-6 is a gem, pouring on smooth power no 4-cylinder could match.
The 3 Series GT doesn’t have the supremely planted feel of its sedan sibling, but it’s not far off. As an alternative to crossovers, its athleticism in corners adds to the GT’s desirability. In familiar BMW fashion, the ride is firm but supple. And little, if any, noise intrudes at speed.
Other Cars to Consider
2018 Audi Q5 — The Q5 and the 3 Series GT are quite similar. Both are based on a luxury sedan (the A4, in the Audi’s case) and the Q5 can move pretty well for a big vehicle. An all-new generation debuts for 2018.
2018 Audi A5 Sportback — Rides as low as a regular sedan, but comes with a handy hatchback which is blended into an arguably handsome exterior design. All-new for 2018.
2018 BMW 330i xDrive Sports Wagon — Tough call here. The wagon drives better (and arguably looks better), but the 3 Series GT has a roomier back seat and larger cargo area. And if you must have the 340i engine, it’s unavailable in the Sports Wagon.
2018 BMW X4 — A compact crossover with a sloping roof that may or may not work better for you, styling-wise.
2018 Mercedes-Benz GLC-Class Coupe — More of an X4 rival, but it’s a fine-looking thing.
Used BMW X5 — If you’re going to go the whole high-class crossover hog, get one of the best. A certified pre-owned (CPO) model will have a good warranty.
Whichever model you choose, get as many driver assistance features as you can afford. In an ideal world, the 340i version would win out, because BMW’s 6-cylinder engines are fantastic.