First Drive: 2014 BMW 335i xDrive Gran Turismo

by Mark Jurista on October 3, 2013, 10:26 am
BMW 3 Series Gran Turismo

I remember back when BMW first announced the 3 Series Gran Turismo model and I thought that this was going to be a train wreck given the reaction to the 5 Series variant. For the 3 Series line-up you may be even more confused since you can still get a Sportswagon in 2014 as well. What was BMW thinking?

If you talk to BMW, their goal with the 3 Series GT is to offer a 3 Series that offers extra space in a versatile car that cannot be confused with a station wagon. Yes, there is a segment of buyers that want the utility of a station wagon but cannot fathom the idea of owning one. This generally applies to the United States market since customers in Europe love their wagons.

So what is the GT really? It is essentially the long wheel base 3 Series that is traditionally sold in the Chinese market with a raised seating position and larger rear trunk. The GT shares the same general lines with the sedan but is quite noticeably bigger. The biggest difference is the 9 inches of extra length that the GT has over the sedan, the addition of the side "Air Breather" and an Active Rear Spoiler that extends at 68mph and retracts when back under 43mph.

Driving Impressions

BMW 3 Series Gran Turismo

The Gran Turismo we were test driving was the more powerful 335i variant that is powered by BMW's 6-Cylinder TwinPower Turo motor. This is the same motor found In most other 35i BMWs and provides roughly 300 horsepower and 295 lb-ft of torque to propel the car down the roadway. The 335i GT gives you a pleasant 50.2 / 49.8 weight distribution but it does top the scales at 4,010 pounds. This is compared to a standard 335i sedan that weighs in at about 3,700 pounds and the 328i Sportswagon at 3,780 pounds. Clearly, this car needs more power for the added weight.

Our Estoril Blue 335i GT was outfitted with BMW's fantastic 8-speed automatic transmission with paddle shifters, an amazing Harmon Kardon 16 speaker sound system , BMW Navigation System with touchpad controls and M Sport line. The M Sport line adds in an aggressive aerodynamic kit, M Sport Steering Wheel, 18" M Sport Wheels, Sport Seats and optional Dakota Leather. The M Sport line is almost a must have if you want your car to have a more sporty look.

BMW 3 Series Gran Turismo

The first thing I noticed after pulling the 3 Series GT out onto some back roads was that the car felt just like every other 3 Series from behind the wheel. You forgot about the fact that the car is so much bigger and the only way you remember you are in a GT is probably the slightly higher seating position. This can be good or bad depending on your personal opinion but generally it didn't impact my overall impression of the car either way.

After finally getting away from the populated areas, I had a chance to get on the gas and take the GT through some of the twisty roads to see how it handled. The 300 horsepower motor was more than enough to see how smoothly the GT handled the back roads and to see just how quickly you could pull through the turns. Amazing enough, the GT seemed to handle quite well albeit a bit numb at times like has been reported on the 3 Series sedan.

Where the 3 Series GT really shines is when it comes to the sheer amount of space inside the car for both passengers and storage. The most noticeable difference was the amount of space that you have in the rear seats for carry extra passengers. The difference was night and day and on a trip with the back seat full, you will probably have back seat passengers with a little less to complain about. For those of you with kids, the fitment of a rear facing car seat would be much easier with the extra space and it would be that much harder for little legs kicking the back of your seat while you drive. Cargo space was also more than ample with a 40:20:40 rear seat split coming standard and a plethora of options on how to maximize the cargo area. If you are looking at taking long trips with a lot of cargo or with multiple people in the back seat , the 3 Series GT may be what you have been looking for.

Is the 3 Series Gran Turismo Worth Buying

BMW 3 Series Gran Turismo

If you are considering this car, the biggest question that you will run into is probably whether the GT or the Sportswagon (read our first drive impressions now) fits your needs better. It might be a tough choice given that they are both excellent driving cars that start at the exact same price of $41,450 for the 328i versions.

The most obvious reasons I could see for buying the 3 Series GT would be those buyers who want the additional power of the 6-Cylinder motor that is not currently offered in the Sportswagon or those buyers who can't imagine the idea of driving a station wagon. Both cars have very good storage options but the GT will win in terms of versatility.

The Gran Turismo is a very interesting addition to the 3 Series line-up and I do believe BMW will see some good sales numbers from this decision. I do not feel like this car will be something that will convince a 3 Series Sedan owner to move up to a GT but it may be a serious option for a current 5 Series owner to consider, especially given the lack of a 5 Series wagon in the United States.

If it were me, I would skip the GT and go with the 328i xDrive Sportswagon. I spent a week with the Sportswagon a couple months ago and enjoyed it so much that my previously negative view on wagons was turned around.
Go test drive both cars and decide for yourself.
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13 responses to First Drive: 2014 BMW 335i xDrive Gran Turismo

Capobranco commented:
October 3, 2013, 11:06 am

Our X3 35i M Sport has been perhaps the best all around decathlon champ we have ever owned. However, when our lease is up, I think we will seriously take a look at a 335i GT. The GT is an aesthetically pleasing package that BMW endowed with serious street presence, and a large measure of utility. The GT could provide a nice alternative change of pace to another SUV/SAV.
pix335i commented:
October 3, 2013, 11:09 am

Interesting that you say that as I was having a conversation with someone about how the GT could very well eat into X3 sales because of the utility that it offers. I'm not sure BMW really factored that in but I do think people will be cross shopping with the Sportswagon and the X3. Let us know what you think when you have a chance to test drive one!
davidc1 commented:
October 3, 2013, 12:29 pm

I plan to replace my X5 with 335 GT when the lease is up. I really like the rear legroom in the GT. It seemed more spacious than the 5 series.
seoulchild79 commented:
October 3, 2013, 8:48 pm

This looks so much better to me than the 5 series GT.
Capobranco commented:
October 3, 2013, 10:56 pm

Originally Posted by seoulchild79 View Post
This looks so much better to me than the 5 series GT.
I agree. I purchased a 550iGT in 2010 when they were first introduced and owned it for almost one year to the day. My GT received accolades and respect where ever I drove it including many high profile social events. The car was fast, fantastically comfortable and satisfying even on mountain roads. Aesthetically, even though the GT exuded serious road presence, I must admit, on reflection, that some styling details could have been handled more deftly.

Although I have not had a chance to closely examine the new 335i GT, it is readily apparent that the car is far more cohesive than the 5 GT in terms of both broad strokes and details. The fast back hatch appears to be much better integrated and the rear provides a crisp finish as opposed to the heavy awkwardness of the 5 GT. The front end is pure BMW and imparts sportiness and power. Overall, the 335i GT appears to offer up not only an elegant form but also conveys a sporty athleticism and competency that will appeal to many with active lifestyles.
Saintor commented:
October 5, 2013, 9:18 am

I saw my 1st one today. I think that I prefer it to F30. It exudes more Europulence right out of the box, the front end is a bit nicer. Too bad that here 1. automatic only 2. Xdrive only 3. 3K$ more than Xdrive sedan.
Pat_X5 commented:
October 5, 2013, 9:41 am

I instantly fell in love with the gorgeous beauty as well.

But what I really liked was the frameless window and the exterior piano black pillar was one piece instead of the standard split of F30 sedans....

Legroom for both front and rear are like limousine feel while the raised drive height helps see around traffic better.

The hatchback rear does not look like a hatch - it looks more of an SAV / crossover like an X1 rear door.
I really enjoyed the removable privacy panels between the rear glass and the trunk that tuck neatly underneath giving more space when needed.

And I have to say a HUGE THANK YOU to Derek @ Shelly BMW for a more than amazing price quotation on my custom configured 3 GT picking up in Germany !
When I thought I would be able to afford only the F30 sedan because the BMW build page showed a $52K price tag; Derek dropped the prices to way below US invoice (near ED invoice) making it affordable as I was getting the plain sedan.

Looking forward to my trip to Europe and when my picture is taken at the Welt, I will be holding a sign that says "Thank you for the 3GT - Derek D. - Shelly BMW"

This is what I saw at the dealer showroom and will be picking up in Germany = almost exactly as it shows....
FStephenMasek commented:
October 5, 2013, 11:06 pm

We attended the Orange County Auto Show on Thursday and encountered the 3-Series GT. We had not known it existed, and were quite pleasantly surprised at the size - the exact same length as the 2014 Toyota 4Runner we are also considering! I sure wish it had the console storage and other storage spaces for cell phones and such of the 4Runner, but the 40-20-40 rear seat and the cargo compartment size may be sufficient for our needs. I'll need to rent both for nice long test drives (at least 120 miles). It is $10,000 more than the 4Runner, but uses far less fuel, making the cost the same for the length of time I keep vehicles. We may be the only people on Earth with both on our short list, but I own an environmental consulting company, so carry a ladder and test equipment (some of it worth as much as the vehicle it is in), and I collect and restore old radios for fun, specially the floor-standing consoles.
mainebmw commented:
October 27, 2013, 4:46 pm

I have now owned my 335 GT for 2 months. I love it. I had looked into getting another 3 series sedan or possibly an X3, then I saw the GT. I would never drive a station wagon. The GT met my needs for more space than the sedan but not as bulky as an X3. I have carried 5 adults plus a wheelchair and a walker. No complaints on rear seat space like I used to get with my 330. Granted it might not be as sporty as the sedan but put it in sport mode and it is very close. It looks much better in person than any of the pictures I have seen. Mine is black so it looks very sleek.
m8o commented:
October 28, 2013, 2:09 pm

Aside from the ride and drive ... I find I only think this looks 'acceptable' in silver with low profile tires. Strong dislike of the white, blue and red with a smaller rim. And if colors & tire profile makes that big'a difference, something's wrong.
cptstern commented:
October 28, 2013, 9:59 pm

I have driven my 06 325 for 90k miles and was considering a 528 to replace it. The 325 is just a little small for my family of 4 including a 5 and 7 year old. We end up taking the SUV for any family outing. A lot of things I have read said the added weight kills the driving dynamics, but this only looking at the added 300 pounds from the 3 series sedan to the GT. I am looking at the GT being 1000 pounds LIGHTER than the 5 series. I think this may be the right car for me.
FStephenMasek commented:
November 12, 2013, 11:55 pm

I wound-up buying a 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee (Overland, V8, 4x4, technology) a few weeks ago, as the BMWs were just not large enough for my needs, and the 4-Runner not sophisticated enough (5-speed, solid rear axle, uncomfortable seats).
woody2877 commented:
August 31, 2014, 3:03 am

Just bought the 335xi GT. It is a fast car and has a lot of power. I actually traded in my X6 for this car against my wife's wishes. The X6 is a great car, but is heavy. It burns through tires quick. The GT has more rear space for my kids and a decent trunk. I actually had a 2001 325 sportswagon many years ago and miss the wagon. I have been looking for a 5-series wagon but unable to find anything for sale in the islands. I settled for the GT and it is great. However, if BMW USA decides to bring back the 5-wagon, I will be trading up for sure. I am a big fan of the wagon. The GT is a decent compromise though. My wife is still unhappy.... however she is getting a new M4 in a few months and will be picking up the car in Welt. I think this will make her happy again!