BMW 3 Series GT (2013-2020) Review

Written by Andrew Brady

7/10
heycar ratingOddball hatchback misses the mark
  • 2013
  • Premium
  • Petrol, Diesel

Quick overview

Pros

  • Lots of interior space
  • Strong engine range
  • Good standard specification

Cons

  • Least attractive 3 Series bodystyle
  • Gives up some of its driving appeal for space
  • Less popular than the hatch or saloon

Overall verdict on the BMW 3 Series GT

"In this BMW 3 Series GT review we are looking at another of the German manufacturer's spin-off models - in this case one that didn't quite hit the mark. Based on the BMW 3 Series saloon, the 3 Series GT added a hatchback-like rear end, a stretched platform that increased rear seat space as well as adding more room in the boot. The result was something that was more practical than a BMW 3 Series saloon, but not as practical as a BMW 3 Series Touring and traded in some of its fabled dynamic ability as a result."

BMW 3 Series GT (2013-2020) Review: exterior front three quarter photo of the BMW 3 Series GT

If there’s one thing that the big German premium manufactures love to do, it is creating a new niche. That’s why they have some of the widest proliferation of models. Let's look at BMW 3 Series GT review.


Just look at the current BMW line-up, with six sizes of SUV alongside hatches, saloons, estates, coupes and convertibles. Somewhere in there appeared the BMW 3 Series GT (or Gran Turismo, to give it its full title), that took the 5 Series GT as inspiration and created something approaching a hatchback that was bigger than a Touring but looked almost nothing like it.


BMW never called it a hatchback of course, but that’s the easiest way to explain what it is. The BMW 3 Series GT was 20cm longer than the 3 Series Touring as well as 8cm taller, but crucially its wheelbase - the distance between the front and rear wheels - was a massive 11cm longer than the Touring. 


That meant that as well as offering more boot space, the space in the rear for passengers was significantly increased. And, let's not forget, the lack of space for passengers in the back of the standard BMW 3 Series has been a long-standing complaint from buyers.


What that meant was that the BMW 3 Series GT looked quite different from the other 3 Series models. The good news was that it was a lot better-looking than the 5 Series GT, but the bad news is that it's nowhere near as good looking as a standard 3 Series. Not quite a hatchback, not quite a coupe, the 3 GT was more of a fastback. But whether that was what buyers really wanted is another matter altogether.


As with the regular BMW 3 Series models, the GT was offered with a plethora of engine options and specifications. The 320i and 328i petrols actually share the same 2.0-litre four-cylinder engine but have different power outputs (187PS and 248PS,. respectively). Meanwhile, top of the range 335i is a 3.0-litre six-cylinder engine with 308PS.


Two diesel powerplants are available, both are 2.0-litre four-cylinder units, with the 318d offering 144PS and the 320d 185PS. Drivers can choose from either a six-speed manual or an eight-speed automatic transmission.


The driving experience is, as you’d expect, very similar to that of the BMW 3 Series saloon and Touring models, with a few key differences. What you still get with the BMW 3 Series GT is a sense that this is a car that has been designed to be good to drive, with accurate and responsive steering as well as a good balance between ride and handling. The downside is that the taller body causes more bodyroll through corners - but at least it rides a bit better than some of its siblings.


Taken in isolation the BMW 3 Series GT is a very capable and somewhat attractive car, with impressive amounts of space, comfort and driving pleasure. The problem is that it answers a question that few buyers asked. For most drivers, the BMW 3 Series saloon and Touring models would undoubtedly be the better choice.



If you're looking for the classic version, you need our BMW 3 Series Review.

This is the big-money question. If you like the idea of a 3 Series-sized car with a BMW badge, but the Touring and saloon versions don’t offer enough boot space or space for rear passengers, then the BMW 3 Series GT might well be the car for you. If you have older children or adults who regularly travel with you, then the generous rear head and legroom is a real plus, as is the ability to carry their luggage. It’s not limousine-like in terms of comfort, but it does a passable impression in terms of space.


If you need a family car, you don’t like SUVs or estates and you really want a BMW then the BMW 3 Series GT makes sense, but it is likely a small demographic that will find the saloon and Touring versions so unsuited to their needs that the BMW 3 Series GT is the only alternative.

At launch the BMW 3 Series GT was available in five trim levels; SE, Sport, Modern, Luxury and M Sport. The good news is that the SE was well-specified and is still a good choice - you get 18-inch alloy wheels, climate control, Bluetooth, USB input and a 6.5-inch infotainment screen. Later SE models also got DAB and sat-nav too, so you won’t feel short-changed. The Sport model offers more of a sportier look than a sportier drive and is also a good choice, but the higher-spec versions don’t offer as much value for money.


Of the engine options, the basic 320i and 320d have the best mix of performance and economy. The 320d shouldn’t cost much more than the slower 318d and has almost identical fuel consumption, yet still offers usefully brisk performance. If you want petrol over diesel then the 320i is more than quick enough.

Despite the BMW 3 Series GT being something of an oddity, there are of course German premium rivals that are quite similar. The Audi A5 Sportback is perhaps more of a four-door coupe than a fastback, but it does provide that big tailgate that’s neither an estate or saloon alongside a pair of doors for the rear passengers.


Purely by coincidence, Mercedes-Benz also has a competitor for the BMW 3 Series GT, although it is a bit closer to an estate. The CLS Shooting Brake is based on the CLS, which is itself a four-door coupe based on the C-Class. That means you get swoopy styling and a decent boot, although less space than in the estate. These alternatives and the BMW 3 Series GT would all fit on a Venn diagram that includes style, boot space and passenger space without any of them exactly matching another - which is what happens when manufacturers go searching for a niche.

Comfort and design: BMW 3 Series GT interior

"As you might expect, much of the BMW 3 Series GT’s interior is carried over from the regular 3 Series models, which is certainly no bad thing. This is a car that has the comfort of its passengers as a high priority, so whichever seat you’re given you can be confident of getting cosy."

BMW 3 Series GT (2013-2020) Review: interior close up photo of the BMW 3 Series GT infotainment

For the driver there is a large range of adjustment in the seat; SE and Sport models have electric adjustment for the backrest and lumbar support, but manual adjustment for everything else. The steering wheel has plenty of reach and rake adjustment too, so whatever size and shape you are, you can get the right support.


The dashboard layout is classic BMW, with a layout that’s simple and clear as well as focused around the driver. The BMW 3 Series GT dates from before BMW offered digital instruments routinely on its cars, so you get ‘old-fashioned’ but beautifully clear analogue dials with a digital display in the base of the speedometer. There are two banks of switches below the 6.5-inch infotainment screen, but backing that up is the iDrive controller and a small selection of controls on the steering wheel for phone, audio and cruise control operation.


It all works very well. The iDrive system is a breeze to use, and in many ways is superior to a touchscreen arrangement, particularly if you’re the one behind the wheel. There are other smart touches, like the shortcut buttons on the audio system that can be assigned to radio stations but also sat-nav destinations or phone contacts.

Buyers expect relatively high standard from a BMW, and for the most part the BMW 3 Series GT delivers. The actual finish and materials of the interior vary depending on the specification, but even if you go for a lowly SE or Sport, you still get a strong sense of luxury and premium feel coming through.


There are lots of soft-touch surfaces dotted around the cabin; the steering wheel is thick and nicely padded, as are the armrests, and there are flashes of metal trim on the centre console and across the dash, all of which make it feel quite special in here.


The vast majority of the controls and switches feel solid too, and the cabin feels like it has been well constructed and will last for a long time. There are a few areas where some evidence of penny-pinching can be found, though, like the smaller buttons on the dashboard feel a little flimsy, but it’s a small grumble. Go for a high spec version like the Modern or Luxury and you get leather, wood or extra metal trim, which is nice if you can afford it.

As standard the BMW 3 Series GT gets a 6.5-inch infotainment screen, controlled via the i-Drive system, with some functions repeated on the dashboard and steering wheel. The system also includes Bluetooth, USB input and a radio. DAB was optional at launch but was included as standard from 2016 cars onwards (check the specification carefully if your prospective car is from this year). Satellite navigation was available as an option on all models, as was an upgraded Harman Kardon audio system.


The standard infotainment system works well, particularly as the i-Drive controller is slick and easy to operate. The shortcut keys around the controller make it easy to jump between modes and it soon becomes second nature to press, turn and push the rotary controller to get what you want. 


The same applies to the steering wheel and dashboard controls. A touchscreen would add no real ease of use to the system. If you can find one, a car with DAB and sat-nav is a bonus - the BMW system is one of the better navigation offerings, and features like Apple CarPlay and Android Auto were not available until late in the car’s life.

The BMW 3 Series GT really puts itself ahead of the competition in this area, and the extra length in the wheelbase and height in the body is put to good use. 


Up front, both driver and passenger can luxuriate in the space available; it genuinely could pass for a bigger car, such is the amount of head and legroom available. If you’re a taller driver you can have the seat right down on the floor and enjoy masses of headroom, while you and your passenger can push the seat right back and benefit from the excellent legroom. There’s plenty of shoulder room although, like many rear-wheel-drive cars, there is a sizeable transmission tunnel between the front seats which takes a little bit of room away.


In the rear, it’s arguably even more impressive. BMW says that rear-seat passengers get an extra 75mm of legroom, and while that might not sound like much, that’s on top of what you’d get in a saloon or Touring, which isn’t bad to start with. Even though it’s a little longer, the BMW 3 Series GT is still a relatively compact car, so the amount of rear space it offers is excellent for its class. 


There’s plenty of headroom too, helped by the longer roof and sloping tailgate that don’t dip down as quickly as on the saloon or Touring. It’s a shame that it is still slightly compromised as a five-seater, with a centre rear seat that is slimmer than the other two, but those in the back can also recline the seatbacks for extra comfort.


Head for the boot and there’s more good news. An electrically operated tailgate is standard, so you just have to press the button on the bootlid or the key to raise the rear lid, and the load cover is attached to the tailgate itself so it automatically moves out of the way. 


The space available is 520 litres with the rear seats in place - that’s 25 litres more than the Touring - and with all the seats folded this goes up to 1600 litres. It’s also easy to fold the rear seats, as there’s a lever in the boot so you can drop them without having to run around to the rear doors.


The BMW 3 Series GT dimensions are 4824mm long, 2047mm wide and 1508mm tall.

Handling and ride quality: What is the BMW 3 Series GT like to drive?

"Even though this is arguably a more practical version of the 3 Series, few buyers will consider the BMW 3 Series GT if it drives like a barge instead of a speedboat. The classic 3 Series character remains largely intact, but there are a few compromises as a result of the changes to the body and structure."

BMW 3 Series GT (2013-2020) Review: exterior front three quarter photo of the BMW 3 Series GT on the road

It’s not all bad news though. This generation of 3 Series was quite sensitive to wheel and tyre combinations, particularly as cars could have run-flat tyres or sports suspensions (or both) which meant a stiff ride. BMW 3 Series GTs were fitted with run-flats as standard but there’s nothing to say you have to keep them on the car, and the ride quality is better without. The BMW 3 Series GT actually rides better than the saloon and Touring, thanks to the extra length in the wheelbase, although it’s still more of a sporty ride than super-cushioned.


Where the BMW 3 Series 3 GT lags behind regular 3 Series models is in the handling department. That's because the longer and taller body becomes a negative point here. 


Taken in isolation the BMW 3 Series GT still performs well. The steering has a good weight to it which gives the driver confidence, and it responds well to inputs. What is more apparent though is that it doesn’t turn as eagerly as the saloon or Touring do, and there is a little bit more body roll because of the extra height. If you’re coming from a conventional car that isn’t a BMW there’s a case for arguing you won’t notice the difference, but if you’re torn between the BMW 3 Series GT and a regular 3 Series it might sway you one way or another.

With quite a broad engine line-up, although not quite as broad as with other BMW 3 Series models, you should be able to find an option that meets your needs and your budget. It’s often the case with BMW models but for a lot of buyers, the regular 2.0-litre diesel option offers the best of both worlds.


It’s important to note though that this includes both the 318d and the 320d - the former has 143PS and offers acceptable performance but nothing more, while the 320d has 184PS, is noticeably quicker and offers almost identical fuel consumption too, so there’s not a great deal to be gained by going for the 318d.


The 320i and 328i also share an engine - a turbocharged 2.0-litre unit - with 184PS and 245PS respectively. Both are relatively refined and offer useful performance, but the 320i will be a better compromise for most people, offering enough acceleration without painful fuel consumption.


For those with bigger budgets, the 330d and 335d are the most attractive options. Both use a 3.0-litre, six-cylinder turbocharged engine offering 257PS and 313PS, with the option of xDrive four-wheel-drive too, and their combination of reasonable economy and effortless pace can provide a real Grand Touring experience if that’s what you’re looking for. At the top of the range the 335i and later 340i models are the fastest, with turbocharged six-cylinder engines, but require the biggest budgets to keep them fuelled.

For a car to be truly comfortable it needs to offer a high level of refinement and, for the most part, the BMW 3 Series GT delivers on that front. The strong build quality is a help here, with lots of quality materials in the cabin helping to dampen out unwanted noises, while the engine range is also impressively refined. The 2.0-litre diesel engines are the least quiet of the choices, but although there is a little bit of diesel chatter when starting from cold, it is distant and muted well enough that it does not intrude.


Noise from other sources is somewhat dependent on specification. Go for an SE model on the standard 18-inch alloy wheels and road noise is pretty well controlled, but at the other end of the scale an M Sport with stiffer suspension and 19-inch wheels picks up a lot more disturbance from the road, which is worth consideration before making a choice. 


Additionally, the BMW 3 Series GT has frameless windows, unlike the saloon and Touring models, which means a little more wind noise at motorway speeds, although it still provides a good level of refinement.

Euro NCAP did not specifically test the BMW 3 Series GT model, but instead applied the same results recorded by the 3 Series saloon to all models under the 3 Series tag. The BMW 3 Series GT is based on the 3 Series tested by Euro NCAP in 2012, which was awarded the maximum five stars. It was awarded an exceptional 95% for adult protection, as well as 84% for child protection. Pedestrian protection was an impressive 78%, while it also recorded a score of 84% for safety assist.


The provision of safety equipment on the BMW 3 Series GT is high, with six airbags as standard including front, side and curtain airbags extending to the rear seats. Seat belt pre-tensioners and load-limiters are also standard, along with ISOFIX child set mounting points. 


All versions of the 3 GT are fitted with ESC as standard, which is also independently switchable should you wish to turn it partially or fully off. Rear parking sensors are standard along with cruise control, and when new it was possible to upgrade to front parking sensors or a reversing camera too. 


Also on the options list when new were features like active cruise control and automatic emergency braking, but because they were optional rather than standard you may have to look harder to find a vehicle with these systems fitted. Broadly speaking, safety options are less popular than luxury features when buyers are choosing their new car, so it may be a challenge to find a car in this spec.

MPG and fuel costs

"The BMW 3 Series GT is hardly a small hatchback, but thanks to some decent aerodynamics and some highly efficient engines, if you choose wisely it can deliver low fuel costs with some ease."

BMW 3 Series GT (2013-2020) Review: exterior rear three quarter photo of the BMW 3 Series GT

Pick of the bunch as you might expect are the diesels. The 318d might be the slowest car in the range, but it boasts and official 64mpg combined if you went for the more efficient auto gearbox option. Our pick, the 320d, still claims between 57mpg and 63mpg depending on specification and gearbox, so you should get close to 50mpg in normal driving without too much effort.


At the other end of the scale the big 3.0-litre petrols are clearly the thirstiest. A 335i manual claims a best performance of 42mpg, so you can expect around the 30mpg mark regularly and a lot less if you use the performance.

Taken as a part of the BMW 3 Series family, the BMW 3 Series GT recorded a relatively 8.91 out of 10 for reliability in the HonestJohn.co.uk Satisfaction Survey, making it one of the worst-performing BMWs. That said, there are few significant issues reported on these models.


As a brand BMW finished 20th out of 30 manufacturers in the same survey, which is not a particularly good result either. As always we would suggest only looking at examples with a full main dealer service history.

There’s not a great deal of news here - this is a premium car with a sizeable new price tag and some powerful engines, so there is the potential for large premiums. However, the less fancy models in the range are nearing sensible levels; the 318d even in its fanciest M Sport trim goes into group 23, which could be a lot worse. The more powerful 320d is group 24 in SE spec but goes up to 29 for other specifications.


Because the 2.0-litre petrol is available in two power outputs, 320i and 328i GTs also vary considerably. An SE model is group 28 or 35, 28 and 26 for Modern spec and above. 330d and 335d models attract the highest premiums - the later goes into group 42 out of 50.

Because the BMW 3 Series GT was launched in 2013 and was still on sale in 2019, it crosses the period in April 2017 where the VED rates went up for a significant number of cars. So not only does it pay to look at which engine option you go for, you could also make a saving by choosing an older car over a younger one.


As an example, the 318d costs just £30 a year on VED if registered on or before March 31, 2017. Buy a car registered on the April1  the same year and you have to pay £165 per year. There’s also the £355 additional levy for cars registered from this date with a list price over £40,000 - so a 330d xDrive Luxury costs £165 per year in March 2017 but £520 a year after, and that rate is payable for the first five years of the car’s life, too.

How much should you be paying for a used BMW 3 Series GT?

"Because the BMW 3 Series GT only went off sale in 2019 with the arrival of the latest generation 3 Series there are plenty of examples that still relatively young, with low mileage and with a good chunk of manufacturer warranty left, too."

BMW 3 Series GT (2013-2020) Review: exterior close up photo of the BMW 3 Series GT spoiler

The earliest BMW 3 Series GT models are now down below £7,000, although these cars will have big mileages and be likely past their best years.


However, up your budget to around £15,000 and you have a much better choice of cars with plenty of life left in them. We found a 2015 320d in desirable M Sport trim with under 50,000 miles for £14,500. At the other end of the scale, £25,000 will get you a 2019 example - we found a 320d xDrive M Sport with only 18,000 miles for this price.

Standard specification on all BMW 3 Series GT models is generous. The basic BMW 3 Series GT SE gets 18-inch alloy wheels, two-zone air-conditioning, Bluetooth, USB port, 6.5-inch colour screen with iDrive Controller, Drive Performance Control with ECO PRO mode, two-part parcel shelf, automatic tailgate, active rear spoiler and rear Park Distance Control.


BMW 3 Series GT Modern trim adds matt chrome exterior details, 18-inch turbine-style alloy wheels, a light-finished interior with a cloth and leather mix trim and pearl-effect chrome interior detailing. Move up to BMW 3 Series GT Luxury trim and it’s mostly visual upgrades, with gloss chrome exterior details, special 18-inch alloy wheels, chrome interior details, high-gloss wood strips and leather seats. Top-spec BMW 3 Series GT M Sport adds an aerodynamic exterior package with high-gloss trim, 18-inch star-spoke alloy wheels, an M Sport leather steering wheel, sports front seats, M Sport suspension and brakes. 

Ask the heycar experts: common questions

Yes - BMW pulled the plug when it introduced the latest generation 3 Series saloon in 2019. Sorry.
Take a regular BMW 3 Series saloon, add a hatchback rear, stretch the wheelbase, add increased rear legroom and boot space, and you have yourself a BMW 3 Series GT.
It is, but arguably it's not as good as either the BMW 3 Series saloon or Touring. But hey, maybe you really dislike saloons and estates (and coupes, and convertibles) but really want a BMW 3 Series.

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