The undoubted success of BMW’s 3 series has cemented it as among the most popular cars in its class of the past decade.
So it is little surprise there has already been plenty of fanfare surrounding the release of its latest variant, the 320d Gran Turismo.
This time around the stakes have been raised again with an increasingly crowded marketplace, which has prompted some to question whether this might be a model too far.
However, after putting it through its paces at the Millbrook test track near Milton Keynes, the answer is very clearly one of there being a definite niche for this striking addition to the range. With its coupe-influenced sloping roofline, 17-inch wheels and active rear spoiler, it has decidedly set its stall out with strong sports-minded design intensions.
The first thing that strikes you is its larger presence than its series predecessors (200milllimetres longer in its wheelbase to be precise), as well as being noticeably taller.
After firing up its two litre diesel engine, you will quickly realise from its pleasing engine notes that it’s a car which means business.
Matters are somewhat aided by its slick six-speed gearbox, which changes crisply through the range. Its acceleration is far from sluggish too, capable of a respectable 0-100km time of eight seconds.
As such, this feels like it is a car designed with an emphasis on refinement rather than the out and out rapier-like swiftness of others within the BMW range such as the M135i. Perhaps with this in mind, the company will be releasing an M Sport version of the vehicle next month.
To its credit, the five-door Gran Turismo’s ride is reassuringly solid and handles a range of road conditions in commendable fashion. From hill climbs, city routes as well as under motorway conditions, it copes with ease.
Among its other strengths is a particularly spacious interior, which is larger than its three series predecessors, particularly in the rear seats.
Its neutral interiors are pleasingly uncluttered, which remains a genuine hallmark of the company. Some may hark after internal styling that is a little more adventurous, but its quality is undoubted. There’s also further good news in terms of space, as its 520 litre boot offers plenty of space big enough for a fair deal family or business travel luggage.
Another wining factor is BMW’s pleasingly logical driver navigation system. In this instance there is a full colour heads up display projecting information onto the windscreen, which has been a useful feature over the past few years. All in all, this is a car that will hold appeal for both existing 3 series owners as well as potentially capturing a new audience with its strong styling and performance.