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Liftoff for BMW’s 3 Series liftback

Longer: The BMW 3 Series Gran Turismo is an open and shut case for buyers wanting more space in a ‘3’.

BMW stretches 3 Series into Gran Turismo family luxury space shuttle


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7 Feb 2013

BMW has revealed the third and final body shape for its new generation 3 Series mid-sized luxury car – the spacious and practical five-door Gran Turismo.

Set to join the existing 3 Series sedan and upcoming Touring wagon in Australia in the third quarter of this year, the stretched, long-wheelbase GT is the first such liftback body shape in BMW’s best-selling model range, and will be aimed directly at Audi's A5 Sportback.

The rear-drive 3 Series GT is similar in concept to the 5 Series GT that was added to the large vehicle range in 2010. However, BMW designers appear to have learned lessons from the larger car that was criticised for its awkward styling and ungainly ride height.

The 3 Series version is lower and leaner, with more appropriate proportions.

With a wheelbase 110mm longer than that of the 3 Series Touring and a body 200mm longer overall, the GT unleashes greater cabin space and a large and versatile 520 litre cargo space – bigger by 25 litres than the wagon.

Rear seat passengers get an extra 70mm of legroom over both the sedan and wagon, while all seating positions have been raised 59mm for a grandstand view.

As its name suggests, the GT is designed as a grand tourer, and we won’t see an M3 autobahn blaster in this body shape.

The vehicle will be launched in Australia with 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbocharged engines – both petrol and diesel – with potential for more exotic powertrains later on.

BMW Group Australia product communications manager Scott Croaker said the Australian company had not yet decided if it would import the six-cylinder 335i model, and would probably test the water with the four-cylinder range first.

In Europe, customers will be able to choose from three petrol and two diesel engines, offered with a choice of six-speed manual gear-box or eight-speed ZF automatic transmission.

All engines are identical to those in the 3 Series sedan, and have fuel-saving idle-stop.

More fuel is saved via regenerative braking and electric assisted power steering, both taken directly from the 3 Series sedan that has been on the Australian market for a year.

The 3 Series GT gets a rear seat that folds in a 40:20:40 split for a variety of load configurations, along with a massive under-floor storage bucket that provides a secure place to store items out of sight and also doubles as a wet items cargo area.

However, like other new-generation BMWs, the GT misses out on a spare wheel, making do with run-flat tyres.

The cargo area is lit by strips of LED lights, and the big rear hatch/tailgate opens wide automatically.

The vehicle is said to include a rear spoiler that raises, Porsche style, from the back of the vehicle at higher speeds – a first for the Munich company.

Like other 3 Series models, the GT can be ordered in an entry-level version, with the Sport Line, Luxury Line or Modern Line equipment packages.

And while a red-hot M3 version is not in the pipeline, customers can at least order the GT with an optional M Sport package that will be available from launch.

The GT completes the 3 Series body line up this time around, as the coupe and convertible variants will be known henceforth as the 4 Series. They will arrive in Australia around the same time as the 3 Series GT, about July or August.

Before then, the 3 Series Touring will go into showrooms from the end of February, with pricing starting from $58,900 (plus on-road costs).

Like the GT, the Touring will be armed only with BMW’s TwinPower four-cylinder engines, in both petrol and diesel.

The flagship M3 sedan and M4 coupe models are scheduled to land in showrooms in 2014.

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