Our cars: BMW 3 Series GT - January

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  • 3 Series GT custodian John Bradshaw is a huge BBC 6Music fan. Thankfully, digital radio is standard on every model

    3 Series GT custodian John Bradshaw is a huge BBC 6Music fan. Thankfully, digital radio is standard on every model

  • On/off switch for BMW traffic alerts makes it easy to mute the updates when you don't want them

    On/off switch for BMW traffic alerts makes it easy to mute the updates when you don't want them

  • iDrive infotainment controller helps make BMW's system the best that John has come across

    iDrive infotainment controller helps make BMW's system the best that John has come across

  • Our 3 Series GT's first service cost £240, although the pricey engine oil was £83 alone

    Our 3 Series GT's first service cost £240, although the pricey engine oil was £83 alone

  • A rear wiper isn't fitted as it wouldn't work well, so John sometimes has to clean the rear screen by hand before driving

    A rear wiper isn't fitted as it wouldn't work well, so John sometimes has to clean the rear screen by hand before driving

  • Manual gearbox in our 318d GT is a disappointment: notchy, firm and it transmits too much vibration

    Manual gearbox in our 318d GT is a disappointment: notchy, firm and it transmits too much vibration

  • Adjustable opening height of the automatic tailgate is a boon if your garage has a low roof

    Adjustable opening height of the automatic tailgate is a boon if your garage has a low roof

  • You can fold the door mirrors in even once you've switched off the engine - it's a little touch that makes everyday life easier

    You can fold the door mirrors in even once you've switched off the engine - it's a little touch that makes everyday life easier

  • Clever adaptive headlights come as part of a pricey Visibility Pack. Are they worth the money?

    Clever adaptive headlights come as part of a pricey Visibility Pack. Are they worth the money?

  • 40/20/40 split folding seats means there's still room for two people in the back row

    40/20/40 split folding seats means there's still room for two people in the back row

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BMW 318d GT Modern

Week ending January 31
Mileage 17,100
Driven this week 300 miles


BMW 3 Series GT review

One thing I’ve not yet talked about in these long-term updates is BMW’s iDrive infotainment system.

It’s a brilliant system that deserves all the praise we give it. For me, the way the iDrive ‘dial’ controller integrates with the on-screen menus is what really sets it apart.

When you go to input a postcode for the sat-nav, the on-screen display is a large circle, with letters arranged alphabetically around it. That means that when you twist the dial in your fingers, it has a direct, like-for-like effect on what you’re looking at.

High-end systems in other cars often have lists of letters that you need to scroll through with their dials, which, to me, just doesn’t make as much sense and isn’t anywhere near as fast.

By John Bradshaw
John.Bradshaw@whatcar.com

Week ending January 17
Mileage 16,600
Driven this week 700 miles


BMW 3 Series GT review

Our 3 Series GT now has well over 15,000 miles on the clock, so it was time for its first service this week.I chose the while-you-wait option and - as you’d expect at a premium brand main dealer - the coffee, biscuits, newspapers, rolling news TV and comfy chairs were all present and correct.

It took less than two hours for the inspection and refreshing of the engine oil and filter. When I was presented with the final invoice, I read down each line to make sure there were no obvious errors.

The labour charge for the ‘standard scope’ service itself was less than £30, although the line under this revealed a labour cost of nearly £40 for the oil change and, £26 for the microfilter replacement. I made a mental note that we were already around the £100 mark.

However, the cost of the parts and fluids more than doubled this. The components for the filter swap were more than £50 combined, while 5.2 litres of Shell Ultra engine oil were charged at £83. The latter seems very expensive in hindsight, considering the retail price of a 5-litre bottle seems around half of this amount. I might query the oil cost the next time I visit the dealer - although hopefully that won’t be too soon.

By John Bradshaw
John.Bradshaw@whatcar.com

Week ending January 10
Mileage 15,900
Driven this week 300 miles


BMW 3 Series GT review

I’ve previously expressed my amazement (and slight shock) at the £11,035 of options fitted to our 318d GT long term test car. The price as tested is nearly £42,000.

However, one feature that no 3 Series GT comes with is a rear windscreen wiper (or washer). This isn’t an omission unique the GT - many saloon cars miss out on a rear wiper. The theory is that the raked windscreen of this shape of car, plus the fact that the boot lid means the screen is further from the back of the car, means that a wiper for the window isn’t necessary and would be inefficient in any case.

I’m sure the science backs this up, but it doesn’t stop the rear window of our 318d GT from collecting muck and grime. There are some mornings when I need to use spray and a scraper to clean the glass on the hatch before I start driving. I suspect this is even more of an issue for anyone who parks under a tree frequented by a flock of birds.

BMW certainly isn’t at fault for not offering a rear wipe function. Science says that it won’t work well, but I’m stuck having to occasionally clean my car before I drive it, which is inconvenient.

Could there be a solution in the future? Any budding inventors have a bright idea?

By John Bradshaw
John.Bradshaw@whatcar.com

Week ending January 3
Mileage 15,600
Driven this week 210 miles


BMW 3 Series GT review

If you’ve been following these long term updates, you’ll know that I think our chief photographer’s long term 3 Series GT has plenty going for it. Sure, it’s not as good to drive as the saloon, but it counters with substantially more space for passengers and luggage.

However, having driven our manual 318d GT again, I’m left bemused and frustrated with BMW. Let me explain.

In the last four years, I’ve owned two examples of the late-1990s Ford Puma. This is a brilliant second-hand car, and I’m not alone in that opinion - it gets the full five stars in What Car?’s used review. One of the reasons it’s so good to drive is the five-speed manual gearbox. It’s sensational: slick, precise and topped with a spherical silver ball that makes it a joy to slot through the gears.

In contrast, the shift in our 2013 BMW is notchy, firm, and transmits far more vibration from the engine than you’d expect in a car with a premium badge on the nose.

So here’s my question: how is it possible that Ford’s manual gearbox built more than 16 years ago is more accurate and refined than a brand new manual ‘box in a BMW?

One of the reasons we rate automatic versions of most BMWs so highly is that the eight-speed unit from German company ZF is so smooth and quick. It’s a real shame that BMW hasn’t sourced an equally impressive manual option - you shouldn’t have to spend a four-figure sum in the options list just to get a gearbox that’s pleasant to use.

By Ed Callow - Ed.Callow@whatcar.com

Our cars: BMW 3 Series GT - December

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