BMW has chosen the grand sounding Italian phrase Gran Turismo for the name of their top 3 Series car and rightly so for it is a car that is really special for the owner who wants something even more exclusive and larger than the saloon or estate writes Bryan Longworth.
The BMW 3 Series Gran Turismo which is Italian for Grand Tourer and abbreviated to GT is not only a special model in this range it is also longer and taller and an increased wheelbase which means more interior space and load area volume.
Basically this five door car is a hatchback in addition to the Saloon and Touring models but Gran Turismo sounds much more classy for this BMW rival to the Audi A5 Sportback from their rival German manufacturer and competition from other premium manufacturers.
Some observers have queried the need for such a model in the 3 Series range but in my view the Gran Turismo not only has the aforementioned advantages over the other two variants but it also looks better and has greater presence on the road where it attracted a lot attention during my time with it.
And another special feature for the first time on any BMW car is an active rear spoiler that rises at 70mph and retracts at around 40mph (it can also be operated manually) which is a cool piece of kit that will impress in the golf club bar because owners of all other Beemers some much more expensive will not have it on their models.
My test car the 328i Luxury Gran Turismo had the four cylinder 2.0-litre four cylinder 245bhp petrol engine and cost £34,030 but it had options costing nearly £12,000 and the one I liked best was the very effective head-up display on the windscreen which not only showed the speed but the sat nav instructions which were the most effective I have seen.
Power to the rear wheels was via an eight speed automatic gearbox and vital statistics of the Gran Turismo are a top speed of 155mph, a zero to 62mph time of 6.1 seconds, a combined fuel consumption of 44.1mpg and CO2 emissions of 149g/km.
The engine was as smooth as a six cylinder unit and provided an impressive power output which linked to the superb grippy roadholding and perfectly balanced steering provides the driver with top quality motoring in the best BMW style who can also select the best driving mode suitable for the prevailing conditions.
There is a luxurious interior and the large load area is also finished with the same fabric material used for carpets in the cabin with instruments and switchgear being very user friendly but during my test period I only had eyes for the head-up speed display on the windscreen because it was much easier to see than the conventional speedometer.
The extra space in the cabin is quite evident and back seat passengers have lots of leg room which must be the best in class and the load area is also huge with a tray underneath for storing smaller and more valuable items away from prying eyes.
It is a pity that BMW has not included the Gran Turismo tag on the car instead of the GT initials at the back because it would have been much more impressive for the owner who has had to pay a premium for this top 3 Series car and a wiper would been useful on the large rear window for driving in heavy rain.
There is no doubt that the Gran Turismo has been a success judging by the attention the test car attracted especially from other BMW and Audi owners and I am sure BMW will have no difficulty selling the 4000 models they have allocated for sale each year.
My Verdict: A grand GT.
Model: BMW 328i Luxury Gran Turismo.
Engine: 2.0-litre four cylinder petrol.
Transmission: Eight speed automatic.
Top speed: 155mph.
Acceleration: 0 to 61mph 6.1 seconds.
Fuel consumption:44.1mpg combined.
CO2 emissions: 149g/km.
Price: £34,030 on the road.