Not as good as a 3 Series saloon or estate; most impressive on the motorway
Great forward visibility and you get BMW's smart iDrive infotainment system
Well equipped to avoid an accident and protect occupants if one happens
Solid cabin, but BMW has only an adequate reliability record
The 3 Series GT is both roomy and practical
Even the entry-level model has everything you could want
So far we've only driven models with BMW's optional adaptive M Sport suspension, which allows you to vary the stiffness of the ride. In 'Sport' mode, the car's body movements aren't as well controlled as they might be, so you'll probably want to leave it in 'Comfort' mode and benefit from the smoother ride. Even then, sharper bumps tend to jolt through the cabin at lower speeds, but thankfully the car feels impressively smooth on faster roads. Diesel buyers can choose between a 2.0-litre with either 141bhp or 181bhp; the latter isn't the quietest four-cylinder engine we've tried but it picks up speed quickly in any gear. The petrol range comprises turbocharged 2.0 engines with either 181bhp or 242bhp, and ultra-refined 335i with 302bhp which is impressively quiet as well as seriously powerful.
The GT sports the same dashboard as in the 3 Series saloon or Touring, so the materials are reasonably classy and most of the switches work with a pleasingly solid action. Visibility is better than in the other 3 Series, though, thanks to bigger windows and a slightly higher seating position. The iDrive infotainment system is easy to operate - a large dial on the centre console allows you to scroll through the various on-screen menus; you then press it to select your desired function. The 3 Series GT actually has more rear legroom then a 3 Series Touring, and a bigger boot, too. What's more, each of the three rear seats can be folded independently of one another and lie virtually flat. The downward slope of the car's tailgate means the boot isn't particularly tall but it does have some underfloor storage, which can be used to stow the parcel shelf when it's not required. All 3 Series GTs come generous equipped: even the entry-level SE gets 18-inch alloys, dual-zone climate control, Bluetooth, a USB socket, rear parking sensors and a basic version of the iDrive infotainment system. Sport trim comes with sports seats and a chunky steering wheel, while Modern has part-leather upholstery, and Luxury and M Sport get full leather.
BMW's reliability record is reasonable rather than outstanding but there shouldn't be any nasty surprises with this car. Standard safety equipment includes six airbags and a comprehensive stability control programme. The GT hasn't been crash-tested by Euro NCAP but the 3 Series on which it's based achieved the maximum five stars. The options list includes a package with lane-departure warning, and an anti-theft alarm is standard on every model.
The GT has the advantage of having more space than a 3 Series Touring estate while being cheaper to buy than a 5 Series Touring. It isn't quite as efficient as the 3 Series to run but even the 320d is capable of 58mpg with 129g/km of CO2; the 318d is even more frugal.