The BMW 3-Series has long been the industry benchmark for sporty compact sedans. But what to do if you’re looking for a little more practicality but don’t want to settle for an SUV or crossover?
The maker is working up what it thinks will be the answer: the new 3-Series Gran Turismo, a downsized version of its current 5-Series GT. A concept version will make its debut at next month’s Geneva Motor Show, alongside the Bavarian marque’s new M6 Gran Coupe and its Concept Active Tourer.
With the 3-Series Gran Turismo Concept, what you see is very, very close to what you’ll soon be able to get. The more practical take on the 3-Series is about eight inches longer than the latest-generation wagon, with four inches more added to the wheelbase, and it stands about three inches higher.
That will translate into a bit more storage space and a lot more legroom, especially in the rear, according to BMW.
Like the conventional 3-Series, the new GT will feature a rear-drive layout and initially will be offered with two powertrain options. That includes a base turbocharged 2.0-liter inline-four making 240 horsepower and 255 lb-ft of torque.
The upgraded engine is a 300-horsepower, 300 lb-ft turbocharged I-6. Both engines will be paired with an 8-speed automatic. Don’t be surprised to see an even more powerful engine package follow in the next few years if BMW tradition holds.
Could that include an M- model? BMW isn’t saying, though it will offer its M Sport trim level including such niceties as an active rear spoiler.
The addition of the 3-Series GT has some observers scratching their heads considering the increasing glut of crossover models in the maker’s line-up, including the recently added X1. And the 5-Series GT has yet to generate any real market enthusiasm.
Some suggest the 3-Series Gran Turismo will target the Chinese market where many buyers prefer to sit in back and let the chauffeur do the driving.
No word yet on what price BMW will be asking for the 2014 models, though the base 328i sedan starts at $37,745 in the States.