BMW 330i Gran Turismo: A car you can have a stack of fun with

Not sure about the looks, but the drive wont disappoint.

As one of the world’s foremost luxury mid-sized sedans there’s obviously no doubt the BMW 3 Series has a lot to offer. But does the added coupe, Gran Turismo type look really add to the already iconic model line up? Chris Bowen has just spent a week in the BMW 330i GT to find out.

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The 10 Minute Test Drive

The latest GT has introduced a number of styling cues already on offer after the sedan scored a renewed look earlier this year. So great looking biLED headlights, new fog lights, wrap around style rear taillights and a new look exhaust are part of this car.

As you stroll up to the GT there’s no doubt it’s a very attractive car front on. But the way it flows into that hatchback, wagon style rear-end is certainly a talking point. Over a week it did tend to grow on me, but still a lingering doubt remains, if I was to actually own one, about the slightly odd profile.

But thankfully this is still a BMW through and through. On the road it’s a near masterful display of balance and poise. Any keen driver would be hard pressed to complain about how it performs. Everything feels just about perfect from the hot seat. Keen and confident steering, a pleasingly plush ride and vault like construction is what a BMW should be; the GT is no different.

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The interior though is far from a masterclass, it’s dark and bland, sadly missing the dazzle of the Mercedes C-Class and sheer classiness of the Audi A4.

Performance from the new 2.0-litre petrol turbo is effortless and frankly about as quick as any normal person would ever need. For a mid-sized vehicle, space is adequate especially up front, the rear is best suited to two adults particularly on longer hauls.

The practicality of having almost a wagon style rear boot is possibly why some will look at this model, the available real estate back there is more than enough.

Ins And Outs. 

The 330i GT has now caught up with the rest of the 3 Series range, the new engine is rated at 185kW and 350Nm, up a nudge (5kW) on the old model. An 8-speed automatic moves the GT along at an effortless rate, with a distant but still throaty engine note.

The 100km/h dash is all over in 6.1 seconds, pretty impressive really and I even found it actually felt a tad more enthusiastic than that.

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On a nice piece of quiet road you can honestly have a stack of fun with the 330i GT. You know that feeling of man and machine being in perfect harmony? I had a couple of those treasured moments.

The various driving modes, Sport +, Sport, Comfort and ECOPRO cater to whatever mood you’re in. As does the standard adaptive M suspension. Just don’t expect a nice cool gust of air-conditioning on a hot Aussie Summer day while in ECO PRO. It curtails the cooling efficiency to such a point you’ll simply have to turn it off.

There are a couple of strange design flaws that annoy me when it comes to the German offering. Why on earth can’t you sync the dual-air-conditioning controls? Having to reach over and dial up the non-existent passenger’s setting seems ludicrous. Plus unless it’s just me, what I consider to be the perfect seating and steering position actually blocks a portion of the instrument cluster with the steering wheel. But perhaps I’m just a nark.

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The novelty of seeing a pop-up spoiler appear from nowhere at a speed I shan’t be revealing was also a curious quirk. Plus a panorama glass sunroof is fitted as standard.

The Technology Inside

Despite what appears to be a low-tech cabin there’s actually plenty going on under the surface. The BMW iDrive control system is now in its fifth update, the latest version was introduced on the limo-sized 7 Series just last year. What you get is a rotary dial surrounded by buttons that open key menus that have that app style look. It’s intuitive and very easy to simply “get”.

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Our test car featured the $3,500 Innovations Package which adds Active Cruise Control that will come to a complete halt then move on when traffic flow permits. If you like to rock-out while on the move 16 speakers worth of Harmon/Kardon action will do the trick. If you really need heated seats and steering wheel then add on $1,750, oh the tailgate is also an up and down hands free experience.

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Plus it’s always nice to have a well-executed head up display, BMW do it well especially with navigation graphics right in your line of sight.

The Hip Pocket.

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The $77,990 330i GT actually sits at the top of the series range while the diesel 320d GT kicks off at $70,400 before on roads and the various optional packages on offer. Claimed fuel economy for the as-tested petrol model is 6.2L / 100km. I averaged 8.1L / 100km, a tad excessive but that may be my fault.

EFTM Rubber Stamp.

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Ok, I declare I simply don’t appreciate the look of the GT. It doesn’t seem to completely work for me. That’s a pretty important observation when investing this kind of money in a car that falls in such an iconic class. But in all other areas it’s a hoot to drive and experience, I award the BMW Gran Turismo 330i GT the EFTM Credit Rubber Stamp of Approval.

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Motoring

Chris works at Australia's leading radio station 2GB. He's worked on three radio Olympic games broadcasts, attending Beijing 2008 & London 2012. Deep down Chris harbours ambitions to one day sit behind the microphone himself. Aside from radio his other great passion is the motor car. Strangely he owns a Toyota Camry Hybrid, he defiantly rejects the knockers. Chris is married to Gillian and resides in Sydney's North West. They have Sam the English Springer Spaniel and Felix the Burmese cat to keep them company.
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