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First drive: BMW 340i Gran Turismo. Image by BMW.

First drive: BMW 340i Gran Turismo
Monster speed, new connectivity, a fresh badge - this is the BMW 340i GT.


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BMW 340i Gran Turismo

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Sticking with a tried-and-tested formula for a niche variant, BMW only very lightly tweaks its 3 Series Gran Turismo hatchback for the 2017MY and beyond. There's a fancy new personal assistant package debuting on the car and the range-topping petrol engine as tested here also gets the latest '340i' badging, but otherwise it's as you were for the GT - which means lots of pace, lots of space, lots of comfort and not a lot of driver entertainment.

Test Car Specifications

Model tested: BMW 340i Gran Turismo M Sport
Pricing: 3 Series GT from 30,405; 340i M Sport from 42,735
Engine: 3.0-litre turbocharged six-cylinder petrol
Transmission: eight-speed automatic, rear-wheel drive
Body style: five-door hatchback
CO2 emissions: 159g/km (VED Band A, 0)
Combined economy: 40.4mpg
Top speed: 155mph (limited)
0-62mph: 5.1 seconds
Power: 326hp at 5,500- to 6,500rpm
Torque: 450Nm at 1,380- to 5,000rpm

What's this?

It's the 'new' BMW 3 Series Gran Turismo, or GT. And you must be sick of us saying this, it's like we're a broken record or something, but here we have a facelifted car that looks barely any different to the model that went before it. Whether you like the appearance of BMW's idiosyncratic hatchback Three or not, it doesn't alter the fact that the company has sold more than 140,000 of the things worldwide in just three years, nor is there anything like it from any of BMW's main rivals.

So BMW has merely tickled the car in a few places to update it for the midlife refresh. All the front lights are now LEDs, from fogs to main beams, with Adaptive LED Headlights an option. The air intakes in the nose are reshaped, while three new colours (two for all GTs and Estoril Blue for the M Sport variants) are introduced to the paint palette and there are also three fresh designs of alloy wheel. Round the back of the car, there's an L-shaped LED signature in the lamp clusters, slightly fatter exhausts and a remoulded rear apron, while you can't have failed to have noticed the 340i badge on the back - that pertains to what is, in essence, the biggest change for the GT.

There's a three-model petrol and five-model diesel powerplant line-up for the 3 GT and four of these engines are all-new units from the company's modular, 500cc-per-cylinder family. Unlike in other 3 Series, which can be specified with a three-cylinder 1.5-litre petrol engine, the physically bigger GT only comes with four- or six-pot motors. All of the petrol engines are from the modular family, with a pair of 2.0 litres - the 184hp 320i and the 252hp 330i - and this 326hp/450Nm 3.0 straight-six 340i making up the numbers. On the diesel side of things, the 318d (150hp) and the 320d (190hp) are also from this engine grouping, although they were introduced to the GT line-up in 2015 so they're in fact carry-over items. The newcomer is the twin-turbo 325d, churning out 224hp and 450Nm from its four cylinders. For those who crave even more torque, the 330d (258hp/560Nm) and the 335d (313hp/620Nm) continue unabated.

Inside the cavernous interior (with its masses of rear legroom, if not quite so much rear headroom, and a 520- to 1,600-litre boot that outstrips even that of the 3 Series Touring) it's again a raft of minimal updates, such as sundry additional trim finishes and splashes of chrome for the air vents. The big news is BMW Connected. This is - and we quote BMW here - a 'personalised digital mobility companion' that is making its European debut in the GT. In a few years' time, once vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) and vehicle-to-infrastructure (V2X) comms have taken off, BMW Connected will be practically able to run your life for you, without you having to be anywhere near the car.

Anyway, back to the present day. For now, BMW Connected features automatic upload of satnav routes from a smart device once in the car and it can also manage your journeys prior to you getting into the vehicle - it can send alerts and advisory journey start times, to ensure punctuality, to a paired smart device, to ensure you're not late if traffic turns nasty prior to your departure from home. It's very clever stuff, although how effectively it will work in reality remains to be seen.

How does it drive?

This is another of those modern BMWs that doesn't seem to have the chassis sparkle the company is renowned for, yet it compensates by being ridiculously comfortable and quiet when cruising around. And as the hatchback Three is a Gran Turismo when all's said and done, maybe it doesn't need to be tearing up mountain passes, because its target owners sure won't be subjecting it to such treatment.

Perhaps what was disappointing us about the slightly flaccid road holding of the 340i in particular was that such cornering mediocrity was at odds with an absolutely belting drivetrain. Although it remains a TwinPower Turbo 3.0-litre straight-six, and although it has only seen increases of 20hp and 50Nm over the old 335i that superseded it, don't for a minute be fooled into thinking this is the same engine. The 335's unit had the code N55; this 340 lump is tagged B58. And while we never considered the 335i to be slow, this 340i is properly, viciously quick.

On a German Autobahn outside Munich, the 340i GT hauled its way well beyond 100mph in one endless stream of shove. With a fabulous, throaty BMW inline-six roar and a lovely, linear and free-spinning feel, this is a jewel of an engine. It's also hooked up to that magnificent eight-speed Steptronic auto, which works brilliantly whether it's in full 'D' mode or locked into manual, where you can shift cogs using either the paddles on the steering wheel or the gear lever itself. That the 3.0 six then goes almost deathly silent on trailing and part-throttle openings, lending the car a real air of refinement, is simply the crowning glory of the engine.

Refinement in other departments is also the 3 GT's forte. The ride is sumptuous and the suppression of wind and tyre noise is first rate, so if you're driving it gently along a motorway you'll find very little to fault with it. The problems arise when you're off the motorway and you get the devil in you, because the GT is lumbering in the curves. Without adaptive dampers (515 in the UK), there's a lot of pitch, dive and roll on its fixed-rate springs and shock absorbers, while the first thing this rear-drive 340i will do in the tightest of bends is wash into understeer. The 3 GT isn't utterly hopeless dynamically, as it has nice steering, strong brakes and a hint of throttle adjustability to neuter that understeer when it arrives, yet there are plenty of BMWs - old and new, practical or performance-orientated alike - that will better serve the keener driver.


As ever with the BMW 3 Series GT, it's all about the looks, really. If you like those - and we don't mind its appearance, although we'd have a Touring Three ahead of it any day of the week - then the barely-any-different 2017MY GT will definitely float your boat. It has a fine interior, a stunning drivetrain in 340i guise, superb levels of refinement and comfort, and a decent - if not stellar - chassis. It's not a particularly cheap car, as it's more expensive than either of its 3 Series siblings, but it does come with a wealth of premium kit for its asking price, and perhaps more importantly none of Audi, Mercedes, Jaguar, Lexus or Volvo make anything remotely like it. The 3 GT is therefore an excellent choice for those who like to stand out, just a little bit, from the crowd.

3 3 3 3 3 Exterior Design

4 4 4 4 4 Interior Ambience

5 5 5 5 5 Passenger Space

4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 Luggage Space

5 5 5 5 5 Safety

4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 Comfort

3 3 3 3 3 Driving Dynamics

5 5 5 5 5 Powertrain

Matt Robinson - 28 Jul 2016    - BMW road tests
- BMW news
- 3 Series images

2016 BMW 340i Gran Turismo. Image by BMW.2016 BMW 340i Gran Turismo. Image by BMW.2016 BMW 340i Gran Turismo. Image by BMW.2016 BMW 340i Gran Turismo. Image by BMW.2016 BMW 340i Gran Turismo. Image by BMW.

2016 BMW 340i Gran Turismo. Image by BMW.2016 BMW 340i Gran Turismo. Image by BMW.2016 BMW 340i Gran Turismo. Image by BMW.2016 BMW 340i Gran Turismo. Image by BMW.2016 BMW 340i Gran Turismo. Image by BMW.


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