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Odd but roomy 3 Series GT reaches SA

Does the new BMW 3 Series GT even know what it is? Many such questions will surround the existence of this new version of the 3 Series as it hits the South African market this week.

As far as BMW is concerned, the Grand Turismo doubles as an "elegant business carriage" and "dynamic, comfortable tourer." In plain English, it offers more practicality than regular BMW sedans, but without the road holding penalties imposed by BMW's 'X' crossover models that are perched even higher off the ground. The only real drawback here might just be in the aesthetic department, but we'll let you be the judge of that.

There are some nifty design touches, though, like and active rear spoiler to reduce lift at speed, frameless windows and a sloping roofline.

VAST CABIN

Like its 5 Series GT counterpart, the 3 GT really majors on practicality. It's a good 200mm longer than the BMW 3 Series Touring (110mm of that going into the wheelbase) and it also towers into the sky by a further 81mm.

This stretch in all directions results in a 59mm-higher seating position and 70mm more rear legroom. The rear's seat's more adaptable too, being able to recline when its occupants feel like a snooze and folding into three parts (40:20:40) when luggage needs to intrude.

Even with the seats in place, the GT will gulp 520 litres worth of luggage, ousting the 3 Touring by 25 litres, and it's fully lazy-person-proof thanks to an automatic tailgate.

Like you'd expect, the GT offers the full suite of 'Connected Drive' driver assistance and infotainment gadgets, including internet-based services.

As with its 3 Series siblings, you can order your GT in one of four 'flavours' if the standard guise seems too vanilla: Sport Line, Luxury Line, Modern Line or M Sport (available from July).

FOUR ENGINES

Your other big choice is on the engine front, where the 3 GT offers most of the options available in the sedan.

The best news is that it can be had with the 225kW/400Nm 3-litre twin-power turbopetrol (335i), standing above the two 2-litre turbopetrol options - 180kW/350Nm 328i and 135kW/270Nm 320i. From the top down, the three versions accelerate to 100 in 5.7, 6.1 and 7.9 seconds respectively.

Diesel-heads aren't forgotten, with the 135kW/380Nm 320d offering (claimed) consumption of 4.9 l/100km and an acceleration figure of eight secs on the dot.

All engines drive the rear wheels through a standard six-speed manual gearbox, with BMW's eight speed auto being available at extra cost.

The prices for the manual version are as follows:

BMW 3 SERIES GT

320i - R413 322

328i - R491 578

335i - R599 959

320d - R439 770

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