2014 BMW 320D GT review – The tourer you have been waiting for

Announced at the Delhi auto show early this year the 2014 BMW 320D GT or the Gran Tourismo is a rather unique car, it combines the practicality of a tourer inside the body of sedan. To top it up the german automaker has given it a peppy engine and some eyebrow raising sporty looks. After spending three days behind the wheel on a delightful 1,100 kms Mumbai – Ahmedabad return journey we can say that the BMW 320D GT is a car to drive and be driven in.

Exteriors –
Park the GT next to a standard 3 Series and you will instantly notice that it is larger in every dimension. Built on the long wheelbase platform developed specifically for China the 3 GT has a wheelbase of 115 inches (2,920 mm) and that is a 5 series like wheelbase. It stands tall at 190 inches (4,824 mm) an extra bump of 4 inches translates into one of the most spacious headrooms in the segment and the one above it as well.

When you see the car, its fresh lines lure you to take a peek inside.

We just loved the frameless windows.
We just loved the frameless windows.

Like the chassis BMW’s signature kidney grille and corona headlamps are also a bit wider and bigger. Unique to the 3GT and guaranteed to turn a head or two is the coupe styled gently sloping roofline and the frameless doors. In a first of its kind BMW has also included what it calls ‘Air Breathers’ small vents in the front which reduce drag and cool the brakes by channeling the air around the front wheels.

Another first of its kind is an active spoiler which automatically raises when you cross 110 kmh and goes back to its nest when the speed falls below 70 kmh. Along with stability at higher speeds the spoiler gives a subtle sharpness can also be called for and retracted with a dedicated button.

Interiors –
The extended chassis translates into an extremely spacious cabin and it feels exactly how BMW would want it ‘premium’. The higher seating position (59mm to be precise) gives a marvellous view of the road and also makes getting in and out easier. The front seats are power adjusted with memory function for the driver seat. They are well cushioned and even with the lack of extended thigh support they are extremely comfortable for long rides.

The dash is similar to a 3 series, you have the trademark iDrive controller paired with a display which measures 16.5 cms across. The intuitive iDrive and the other controls are smartly placed and well within the reach of the driver. The manually adjusted steering offers a comfortable and is wrapped in leather. The interior plastics are all of high quality and the controls are soft to touch.

The rear legroom puts a 5 series to shame.

Step into the backseat and you are welcomed by a sea of space, to put it in perspective even after adjusting the drivers seat to my height of 6.1” I was comfortable in the back seat with leg room to spare. The atmosphere feels airy with the increased headroom and the beautiful panoramic sunroof. The backseat has three headrests but the middle seat is practically redundant with the tall transmission tunnel.

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How can a tourer be complete without a spacious boot? Satisfying this notion is the mammoth 520 liter boot which can be further expanded to a whopping 1620 liters with the seat down. The trunk can be accessed with an electronic boot lid, the huge opening makes loading and unloading of large items like prams and sports gear easier. The opening can further be adjusted to preset levels using the iDrive controller. A nifty little feature is the smart opener which allows the boot to open hands free by moving the foot under the rear bumper.

Driving and Handling –
Powering the 320D GT is a 2.0 liter 4 cylinder turbo diesel which delivers 184 bhp of power at 4400 RPM and a peak torque of 380 Nm. In our tests the peppy engine pushed the 1.6 tonne GT from a standstill to 100 km/h in a respectable 7.95 seconds. The 2 liter is paired with an eight speed automatic gearbox which offers smooth shifts in auto mode and responds swiftly when you use the lever to change the gears manually.

The car comes with three driving modes – ECO Pro, Comfort and Sport. A switch next to the gear stick lets you change modes instantaneously. The EcoPro and the Comfort mode make use of the Start Stop function which automatically turns off the engine where the car is stationary, the engine kicks back to life when the brake pedal is released or when the air conditioning needs to be used. The vibration and sound of the starting engine can be clearly felt in an otherwise well insulated cabin.

The earth loving ECO Pro mode is ideal for city traffic but does make the car extra sluggish as the acceleration, gear shifts and even the air-conditioning is toned down for maximum fuel efficiency.

The Comfort mode is which brings out the best in the 3GT. The suspension is softer the steering feels lighter and the throttle response feels ideal for just about everything be it driving in peak city traffic or cruising on an inviting highway. The large size and the weight do deliver their share of noticeable body roll.

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Switch to Sport Mode and the difference can be felt in a jiffy, the steering becomes heavier and more responsive, suspension becomes stiffer and the throttle delivers an increased flow of torque. It was a delight switching between Comfort and Sport mode for smooth cruising with some quick overtaking.

We absolutely loved the driving the 3GT, its extremely smooth and despite the extra length and weight its agile on road. The torque filled diesel and the brilliant 8 speed transmission will deliver a near perfect blend of smoothness and performance. The suspension feels comfortable even on Mumbai’s pothole infused roads, the car just glides over the smaller ones without even registering a small blip in the cabin.

The single biggest disappointment we had with this otherwise perfect car is the lack of cruise control.

Let alone the Mercedes C Class and the Audi A4, Cruise control is now an integral part of the Honda’s and Hyundai’s of the worlds as well, why would BMW omit out this crucial feature along with a GPS in a car specifically meant for long hauls leaves us in amazement. With the increase in mobile coverage across the country the lack of a GPS can be overlooked but not Cruise control.

Adding to the comfort is the 208 watt 9 speaker HiFi system delivering clear sound from the CD player or a Bluetooth / USB source. Coming to convenience and safety the car comes with rear view camera, front and rear park distance control sensors, auto headlights, six airbags, ABS, Cornering brake control, Dynamic stability control and run flat tyres.

Verdict –
The BMW 320D GT is a beautiful car that drives well and is extremely comfortable. Its a bit unfair to say so as there is no other car in its segment but BMW does have a winner here. It’s a great crossover, with sporty styling and a cozy, well appointed cabin for both driver and passengers. The engine is zippy and a pleasure to drive around in the city and on the highway too. Priced a cool 5 lacs more than the BMW 320D Sports line it more than justifies the premium with its spacious interiors and distinctive styling which makes it stand out in the otherwise crowded entry level luxury sedan market.

Specifications –

Engine4 cylinder, 1997 cc turbocharged diesel
Torque38kgm at 1750-2750rpm
Power184bhp at 4000rpm
Transmission 8 speed automatic
City13.8 kms/liter (Comfort Mode)
Highway16.2 kms liter (Sports + Comfort Mode)
0 to 100 kmph7.95 seconds using launch control
Pricing42.75 lacs (Ex showroom Mumbai)

The ever spacious rear seats.
The ever spacious rear seats.

The luxe factor is

9 Looks
8 Handling
10 Comfort
8 Value for money
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