What's the used BMW 3 Series hatchback like?
For some people, three is not a magic number. Cars come in so many different shapes and sizes now, the humble saloon and estate just don’t seem to cut it anymore. But, instead of potential 3 Series customers having to resort to a full-blown SUV, there is this, the 3 GT.
What is a 3 GT? Well, it’s an extension of the 3 Series range that is 20cm longer and 8cm taller than a 3 Series Touring. This equates to more rear passenger legroom, a slightly bigger boot (even with the sloping roofline) and a marginally elevated driving position.
However, just being bigger inside would not be enough to justify the 3 GT. So, while it might be a bit more accommodating inside, it is the way it uses that extra space that is more important. For starters, the rear seats not only fold flat with the flick of a lever in the boot, they also recline for rear passenger comfort. Once in the back, you’ll notice it’s much more roomy than a normal 3 Series, which is useful if you have older children or you regularly have to transport adults around.
The downside of the 3 GT is that it isn’t as good to drive as the regular 3 Series. Even if the vehicle is fitted with optional adaptive dampers - which allow you to vary the stiffness of the shock absorbers - the 3 GT rolls more in corners due to its higher centre of gravity, and it isn’t as happy at dealing with quick changes of direction.
The high-speed ride with adaptive dampers is impressive if you put the car in comfort mode but, there’s a considerable amount of road noise over course surfaces in whichever mode you choose. Wind noise can also be a little annoying because it can be heard whistling past the door mirrors at motorway speeds. When trundling around town, speed bumps and potholes can start to thump into the interior. The ride quality on standard suspension without adaptive dampers can be a bit too firm at times and M Sport suspension is even worse.
Compared with the regular 3 Series, you don’t get quite the same engine options with the 3 GT, since this is meant to be a premium product. Diesels make up the vast majority of 3 GTs on sale, with the excellent 320d covering all bases. If you need ultimate economy, the 318d is exceptionally cheap to run, or if you can afford it, the 330d and 335d are exceptional long-distance cruisers with smooth six-cylinder engines. If you don’t do that many miles, then the petrols are worth consideration. Even the base 320i can be had with either rear or all-wheel drive, while the 335i and 340i are seriously rapid.