BMW 320d M Sport Gran Turismo
Practicality appeals to me and if it is met by a car that meets that requirement, more’s the better. This appeal has led me to having a preference for hatchback shaped cars over booted ones with estate models ultimately my favorite. I previously owned a much loved and regretfully sold Volvo V70 estate that is being much more fondly remembered now. I still think that of the fairly recent estates the Peugeot 508 RXH is a beauty and the pick of that range. In the BMW range saloons and estates are well catered for but hatchbacks less so. So the opportunity to drive a BMW hatchback – I’m sorry – Gran Turismo did provide me with a heightened sense of anticipation.
The model was the 320d M Sport in white. A lot of cars benefit from the beautiful whites you can choose nowadays and that really applies to this car. Creases work well with bright colours and the lines on the GT here are particularly accentuated with white. The sloping roofline at the back is sleek and looks like the design was started that way as opposed to it being applied to an existing saloon. The car has four doors with frameless windows - coupé-style and a large tailgate at the back. This latest 3 series GT revision comes 3 years after it first hit the showrooms and its hatchback/GT profile for me works better on the 3 series than it does on the larger 5 series. The designers have really managed to make it look a much more individualist and distinct car.
I undertook a lot of mileage in this car. Back and forth to Cork as well as back and forth to Blacklion in Cavan – an annual trip for me. Both different types of journeys and an opportunity to try out the GT on different road surfaces. Or at least I thought so because no matter what the surfaces were covered in, or where they were laid, this car handled them all superbly, absorbing the all too familiar holes and undulations with untroubled ease. My trip to Cork was on a Friday evening and these trips usually have the added ingredient of tiredness. The GT helped avoid this by keeping you engaged with driving enjoyment for the whole trip. Departing the next morning the car had a bigger surprise. The Professional Navigation System, part of the excellent suite of “Connected Drive” aids fitted interrupted me mid-journey to suggest an alternative route. I heard nothing on the radio and the road ahead seemed clear so I was a bit perplexed by the suggestion. A quick check with my co-pilot boss and direction was given to follow the AI advice proffered. And boy were we glad we did. It directed us away from what turned out to be a 2-hour delay just south of Naas. It took us over a few challenging R roads that were made to feel motorway smooth by the GT and a standout memory. Our journey took us onward to Blacklion where again the satnav popped up to assist us avoid a traffic congestion issue ahead. This time it was via some spectacularly beautiful roads in parts of Cavan I never knew existed. Is Cavan a scenic county that’s hiding in plain sight? We were thankful for the deviation for sure and came back that way, intentionally. The engine had 188hp available and can get you to 100km/h in 7.7 seconds. Lethargic it is not. That power seems available at anytime which makes driving it a worry free affair. If you need to overtake it is reassuring to know that there is sufficient power readily available.
The interior of the GT is a marriage of excellent ergonomics and materials. All combine to provide what I’d consider a definition of quality that only very few others could claim also. There is a lovely mix of chrome and high gloss and everything feels substantial and long lasting. The standard specification includes automatic climate control, keyless engine ignition, Servotronic steering, six airbags, LED headlights for dipped and high beam, and LED front foglamps. A high-resolution colour screen with iDrive Controller, a front armrest, a rain sensor, a Bluetooth hands-free facility for phone calls – including a USB port and Bluetooth audio streaming – and a leather multifunction steering wheel also feature. Space is excellent in the front or the back and the slope of the roof didn’t prove to be a problem for passengers in the back. The tailgate once opened reveals some amount of carrying space and getting stuff in and out presents none of the issues associated with a booted car – hence my preference.
The range starts at €47,410 for the 318d 2wd version and rises all the way to €68,200 for the 335d version with xDrive (4wd). My 320d 2wd M Sport version starts at €51,032 and when the options and packs that were added are factored in the price rose to €63,016. There are 320i, 330i and 340i petrol versions too. I could moan about the price but at this level of premium car it is in the right ballpark.
I love it when a car “fits” you. It ticks the configuration box for me and is finished exceptionally. It drives sublimely and if you are a hatchback person, who appreciates practicality, sportiness, quality and a sleek profile the 3 series Gran Turismo must appeal.