The BMW 3 Series Gran Turismo is set to make its world premiere at the Geneva International Motor Show in March. The third body variation on the mid-range premium segment model, the Gran Turismo leads a BMW line-up for the show that includes the M6 Gran Coupe, Z4, Concept Active Tourer and i3 Concept Coupe.
The BMW 3 Series Gran Turismo is set to be released in the U.S. this summer in 328i and a 335i versions. BMW describes the latest Gran Turismo as an “entirely independent concept within the successful BMW 3 Series range” that “unites the sporty-dynamic genes of the Sedan with the practicality and versatility of the Touring.”
The Gran Turismo is certainly recognizable as a BMW Series 3. Its four doors with frameless windows give it a coupe-like profile and it has the typical BMW proportions, though slightly larger, being 7.9 inches (200 mm) longer than the 3 Series Sports wagon with a 4.3 inch (110 mm) longer wheelbase and standing 3.2 inches (81 mm) taller.
The car still has the BMW kidney grille, though it’s a bit more aggressive with a modified front apron and twin xenon headlights decked out with corona rings and LED accent lights. Underneath are the large air intakes with “blades” to show that the designers mean business.
Part of the rationale for the body design is aerodynamics, with the bonnet showing smoother contours than the Sedan and Sports Wagon. Also prominent are the apertures for the Air Curtains that are designed to reduce air turbulence on the front wheels. Meanwhile, the Air Breathers behind the front wheels cut down on drag in the wheel arches.
The aerodynamic focus carries on in the rear of the Gran Turismo with the first active rear spoiler ever to be fitted to a BMW. According to the company, it reduces lift on the rear axle by 35 percent and gives the Gran Turismo the aerodynamic qualities of the BMW 3 Series Sedan. If the car's speed slows below 70 km/h (43 mph), the spoiler automatically retracts until it is almost invisible. It can also be operated manually.
Overall, the aerodynamics of the Gran Turismo give it a drag coefficient of 0.29.
The dimensions of the Gran Turismo provide passengers with more legroom (especially in the back seats) along with better visibility and makle it easier to get in and out of. Even the boot has been redesigned with a larger compartment, more tie-down points, multi-functional hooks, retractable cargo nets and an under-floor storage compartment. The latter is a welcome touch for anyone who is tired with shifting the emergency kit every time there’s a run to the shops.
Beneath the bonnet is a longitudinally mounted four-cylinder 2.0-litre engine with TwinPower Turbo that is a return to lightweight engines of the BMW 3 Series of the 1970s. It’s modeled on the current six-cylinder inline engine with BMW TwinPower Turbo technology (N55) and boasts an all-aluminum crankcase and a High Precision Direct Petrol Injection system. The latter is centrally positioned between the valves and uses solenoid injectors to control the fuel supply. According to BMW, this results in a maximum injection pressure of 200 bar (2900 psi) that produces clean and homogeneous combustion. It also creates a cooling effect that results in higher compression ratios than port injection engines.
The Gran Turismo has Double-Vanos variable camshaft timing and Valvetronic variable valve timing with a faster-acting, optimized stepper motor with integrated sensor. These work with the engine’s twin-scroll turbocharging. In this, the exhaust from cylinders one and four, and the exhaust from cylinders two and three, follow separate spiral-shaped paths to the turbine wheel. This reduces exhaust back-pressure at low engine rpm and allows the energy of the exhaust gas pulses to be utilized more efficiently to produce instant throttle response. There are also twin balancer shafts set at different heights to optimize vibration absorption, while a centrifugal pendulum absorber is integrated in the dual-mass flywheel to reduce irregular running at low engine rpm. This makes for strong low-end torque without sacrificing smoothness.
The end product of all this is 240 bhp (180 kW) at 5,000 rpm with a maximum torque of 255 lb-ft (345 Nm) with, says BMW, a “vigorous and almost linear power delivery from only slightly above idle, which continues all the way into the higher rpm range.”
The BMW 335i Gran Turismo has an inline 3.0 liter six-cylinder engine (N55) hitting 300 bhp (225 kW) and maximum torque of 300 lb-ft (406 Nm) between 1,200 and 5,000 rpm.
Both the 335i and 328i versions versions have an eight-speed automatic gearbox with manual option that is the same size and weight of previous six-speed gearboxes. BMW claims that this improves acceleration and provides strong mid-range sprinting and further reduced fuel consumption. Its electronics allow it to alter shift characteristics and the spacing between the eight gear ratios is smaller, so that the optimal ratio is available in virtually all situations. BMW says that this allows it to deliver turbine-like power combined with smooth and fuel-efficient low-rpm operation. A sports version is available with a flappy paddle gearbox with faster shift times, and a Quickshift selector for Driving Dynamics Control with Normal and Sport modes.
The rear-wheel drive Gran Turismo has a double-pivot front suspension with aluminum torque struts, wishbones and swivel bearings for a reduction in unsprung masses, a double-joint axle set up to optimum effect in the absence of torque steer. Along with the five-link rear suspension, it’s designed for maximum stiffness with minimum weight. Meanwhile, the electromechanical steering system and the anti-roll bar are the same as on the 3 Series Sedan and Sports Wagon.
The brakes are lightweight aluminum floating-calipers with large inner-vented discs and there is a brake pad wear indicator and brake drying function.
Another feature of the Gran Turismo is its Dynamic Stability Control (DSC) system. This includes an Anti-lock Braking System, Automatic Stability Control, Dynamic Traction Control, Dynamic Brake Control, Cornering Brake Control, Start-Off Assistant, and an electronic limited slip function for the rear differential activated by pressing the "DSC Off" button. The Driving Experience Control gives the driver the options of ECO PRO, COMFORT, SPORT and SPORT+ modes, depending on how sporty the desired ride.
BMW seems rather keen on providing choices with the Gran Turismo available as the M Sport and Sport Line option. These have a 0.4 inch (10-mm) lower M Sport suspension, firmer spring/damper set-up and stiffer anti-roll bars as well as 18 or 19-inch light-alloy wheels. They also have the option of a lowered adaptive suspension with electronically controlled dampers that adjusts the damper mapping to the road surface and driving situation. Another extra is the Optional Variable Sports Steering with Servotronic, which provides different steering gear ratios depending on the angle of the steering wheel for less steering effort for parking and turning maneuvers and sharpens the handling in situations requiring instantaneous evasive action.
In the interests of fuel economy and leaning a bit green, the Gran Turismo includes BMW EfficientDynamics. This suite includes Auto Start-Stop function, Brake Energy Regeneration, and ECO PRO Route – a feature intended to give the driver tips on how to reduce fuel consumption based on the current situation through adjustments to the driver’s responses at the wheel. BMW claims that this can save up to 20 percent across the car’s range on a tank of fuel.
Other fuel economy measures include an on-demand coolant pump, map-controlled oil pump, an electromechanical steering system that only consumes power when steering assistance is required, and a special air conditioning system that is also on-demand and disconnects the compressor belt drive when the air conditioning is turned off.
The price of the Gran Turismo starts at £27,880 (US$37,262)
The battery’s resistance to temperature fluctuations reduces energy consumption and when used in conjunction with various driving modes increases range by 25 percent. The i3’s systems can provide the driver with updates of the car’s range, the location of charging stations and the time required for a recharge. There’s also an optional range extender to increase the i3’s range to about 300 km (186 miles).
These systems work with ConnectDrive’s Parking Assistant that can maneuver the car into a parallel parking space while the driver operates just the accelerator. In addition there’s an Active Cruise Control function for keeping the desired distance from the car ahead. This can work in heavy traffic and even brake the car when necessary.
One safety feature is the BMW Assist eCall with enhanced Automatic Collision Notification with automatic vehicle location. This system uses the car’s sensors to detect when a collision has occurred and sends detailed information about the accident to the emergency services as well as estimating the severity of possible passenger injuries.
A highlighted component of the ConnectDrive at Geneva is the BMW Night Vision with Dynamic Light Spot. Set to be included in BMW models this summer, the BMW Night Vision has an additional feature that identifies specific animals beyond the reach of the headlamps, In the kidney grille there is an infrared thermal imaging camera that can detect heat-emitting objects from a distance of some 100 meters (330 ft) and can distinguish between humans and animals by the level of heat. If an animal collision is detected, the BMW Night Vision’s Dynamic Light Spots starts to flash at the animal and the instrument display lights a deer symbol and, in severe cases, sounds an acoustic warning.
The Geneva International Motor Show runs from March 5th to the 17th.
The video below introduces the BMW Series 3 Gran Turismo.
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