BMW stretches popular 3-Series family

ANDREW MACLEAN
Last updated 09:41 08/02/2013
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The new BMW 3 GT.

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BMW is stretching its popular 3-Series family with a flexible new load-carrying coupe.

The German car maker has released first details of the coupe-cum-wagon GT version of the 3-Series ahead of its public premiere at next month's Geneva motor show.

It follows in the same wheel tracks as the bigger 5 GT, with BMW claiming it blends the best attributes of its sports-oriented sedan and the versatility of its station wagon but with a unique style of its own. Unlike the 5 GT though, what it doesn't try to do is also throw the ride height of an SUV into the mix - an odd element that has made its bigger brother one of the most awkward concepts of the last decade.

The 3 GT uses its sloping coupe-style roofline and frameless windows to give it a more appealing overall appearance despite the fact it actually sits 81mm taller than the wagon. One of the key aspects to that is its longer dimensions, as it rides on a wheelbase that has been stretched 110mm to offer a significant increase in rear passenger room and luggage carrying ability.

The rear passengers travel in comfort with two-stage reclining seats and with an extra 70mm of legroom over the sedan and wagon. They also have more headroom despite the fact the seat height has been raised 59mm for a more commanding driving position.

The GT's trump card, however, is its flexible cargo area, which offers even more space than the station wagon. The electronically operated, high-opening tailgate creates a large aperture to access the 520 litre boot, which can be tripled in size when folding down the rear seat with its 40:20:40 split-fold abilities. The boot also features an undercover storage compartment and a multitude of accessories to secure different types of loads.

In Europe, the GT will be offered with five turbocharged engine options - three petrol and two diesels - that drive the rear wheels through a six-speed manual or eight-speed automatic transmission.

BMW Australia is likely to offer only three engine options, an entry-level 320i with the 135kW turbocharged 2.0-litre four cylinder, a mid-spec 320d with its 135kW/380Nm 2.0-litre turbo diesel and a range-topping 335i with the 225kW/400Nm twin-turbo in-line six.

Australian models are also likely to feature the eight-speed automatic as standard when deliveries commence in the middle of the year.

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- Sydney Morning Herald

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