Our cars: BMW 318d GT Modern hello

  • BMW's new hatchback arrives at What Car?
  • Larger version of 3 Series
  • Run by chief photographer John Bradshaw
Read the full BMW 3 Series GT review
Read the full BMW 3 Series GT review
It's only been with me a short while, but my new BMW 3 Series Gran Turismo long-termer already has me scratching my head in bewilderment – and I don't mean the intricacies of the infotainment system.

Here’s my quandary: how can BMW's designers and engineers get the 3 Series GT so right when they got the 5 Series GT so wrong?

The 5 Gran Turismo was meant to be the choice for those wanting 5 Series-and-a-bit space, without resorting to the full-blown estate. It had a trick rear hatchback that could be either a saloon-like boot or, er, a hatch. It was meant to be much more practical than a regular BMW executive saloon.

I know, because I was the man responsible for What Car?'s 5 Series GT long-termer a couple of years ago. As a photographer, with all the associated paraphernalia, it ought to have suited me. However, during my time with it I never stopped finding flaws with the amount of space on offer. I was left to conclude that the 5 GT is a huge car, except when you try to fit anything into it.

So when the editor suggested I run the new 3 GT, you can see why I was a little apprehensive. It's the 5's baby brother, after all. How was it going to cope with all the camera clutter I have to lug around?

Nor is the 3 GT cheap. We've gone for the most modest diesel on offer at the moment, the 140bhp 318d, and stuck with the regular six-speed manual gearbox that brings CO2 emissions down to 119g/km. Yet the starting price for the car is still north of 30 grand.

Then the options kick in – and they can really add to the price. To jump the queue, we've taken a car from BMW UK's launch fleet, which means our example is fully loaded with extras. We have 19-inch wheels, adaptive M Sport suspension, leather seats, BMW's Professional Multimedia sat-nav and infotainment pack, a panoramic glass sunroof, heads-up display, adaptive headlights, sun protection glass, parking sensors and much more besides.

Read the full BMW 3 Series GT review

The upshot is that our car's price is £41,945. That's a fair chunk more than you'd pay for many a 5 Series Touring, and way more than for a 3 Series Touring. I'll admit this is a crazy figure – although when BMW charges for items such as extended storage and a front armrest, you can see how things could easily get out of hand on the configurator. Just be careful out there.

Read the full BMW 3 Series GT review

What's really on test here, therefore, isn't so much whether a £42k 3 GT can really be good value (you can guess my answer to that already). Instead, I'm keen to discover if the basic package can deliver what the GT element of BMW's 3 and 5 Series ranges was meant to: the comfort and feel of a premium saloon, with the extra practicality of a hatchback.

Read the full BMW 3 Series GT review

On the latter point, things have started well. The 3 GT has pretty much all the room I need. The boot is huge and well shaped, and the rear cabin is vast – a result, I guess, of this car sitting on the longer chassis of the stretched 3 Series BMW sells in China.

Read the full BMW 3 Series GT review

The engine feels up to the job, helped by a decent 236lb ft of torque, and the ride – aided by the adaptive M Sport suspension – is comfortable enough.

The only negative is the manual transmission – like most from BMW, it's a bit notchy when cold.
Still, this is a solid start, even if the contrast between 3 GT and 5 GT continues to perplex.

Buying information
List price £30,910
Target Price £30,910
Extras 19-inch wheels (£790), adaptive M Sport suspension (£750), front armrest (£120), brushed aluminium trim (£155), enhanced Bluetooth (£350), folding side mirrors (£275), extended storage (£135), Anthracite headlining (£215), head-up display (£800), leather seats (£1265), metallic paint (£610), Professional Multimedia pack (£1900), panoramic glass sunroof (£1155), front and rear parking sensors (£380), reversing camera (£300), heated front seats (£300), sun protection glass (£235), variable sport steering (£375), Visibility pack (£925)

Running costs
True MPG na
Official fuel economy 62.8mpg
CO2/tax liability 119g/km/18%
Contract hire £400
Cost per mile na
Insurance group 24
Typical quote £685

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By John Bradshaw

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