GENEVA--BMW attempts to blend body styles with its not-quite-wagon-not-quite-crossover 3 Series Gran Turimso. This isn't BMW's first mashup; the 5 Series GT, X1, and X6 also straddle class lines with varying degrees of success.
BMW's Herbert Diess claimed in his presentation that the 3 Series GT possesses a "gently sloping, coupe-like roofline." I'm not sure if he and I are looking at the same car, because I don't see much that is "coupe-like" about the GT's profile. That said, the vehicle appears much larger in these photographs than it prints in person -- a phenomenon that's exacerbated by the tiny man in this shot throwing off the scale.
Unlike the X6 -- which sacrifices interior volume over the X5 upon which it is based -- the 3 Series Gran Turismo actually longer than the 3 Series Touring with a longer wheelbase. This translates into slightly more cargo volume and legroom. However, it's not as large of an improvement as you may think. Total cargo volume is only up a mere 25L -- less than 1 cubic foot.
The 3 Series GT was showcased in two trim levels at the Geneva auto show. Here, this 328i Gran Turismo is equipped with one of the automaker's Individual styling and paint color packages. Expect it to be powered by the same 240 horsepower, 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder that powers the current 328i sedan.
This 335i GT is also equipped with BMW's M Sport package, which, along with slapping "M" badges all over the place, adds larger wheels with stickier tires, yet more-aggressive styling elements, and M Sport seats, steering wheel, and shifter to the cabin.
A 180 horsepower 320i turbocharged model rounds out the lineup's gasoline engine selection. European markets will also have two turbodiesel models made available, bringing the total number of 3 Series Gran Turismo engine configurations to five.
I couldn't help but draw comparisons to the Honda Accord Crosstour, when standing in front of the 3 Series GT, which features a remarkably similar silhouette. However, the BMW appears to boast a lower, more wagon-like ride height than the Honda, which tips closer to the crossover configuration.
The Gran Turismo's cabin is standard 3 Series faire. Build materials have a premium, yet spartan feel and the M package's upgraded steering wheel, dashboard trim, and seats are nice (and likely pricey) touches.
The eight-speed automatic transmission that graces so many current BMW models will make a return appearance, sending power to the rear wheels of every 3 Series Gran Turismo. BMW's xDrive all-wheel drive system will also be available as an option.
The Gran Turismo has a number of tricks up its sheet metal sleeves to increase efficiency, including regenerative braking, anti-idling stop-start, and the Eco Pro mode, which BMW claims can increase fuel efficiency by as much as 20 percent. There's even an Eco Pro Route mode as part of the navigation system that can plan more-fuel-efficient trips.
The same great standard and optional cabin technology from the Editor's Choice award winning BMW 3 Series sedan will make a return appearance in the larger Gran Turismo. Expect navigation with 3D maps, connected destination search, BMW Apps, a head-up display, and many more tricks and treats.