This is the new BMW 3-series Gran Turismo. Or for short – and because Porsche probably wouldn’t take too kindly to it being called the GT3 – it’s the 3GT. Think of it as BMW’s rival to the Audi A5 Sportback.
Our spies have photographed the new BMW 3GT on test in Europe. Browse our spy shots in our scoop gallery above right.
Just how many new BMW 3-series models will there be?
For the first time, there will be five different 3-series bodystyles: four-door saloon, Touring estate, five-door 3GT, coupe and convertible.
The regular (F30) Three saloon is in essence a downsized 5-series. It avoids the polarising lines, flame surfaces and quirky detail solutions which handicap the current car conceived under Chris Bangle. Chief designer Adrian van Hooydonk does not completely break with tradition, but his proposals are less radical and better balanced: the 3-series is longer, sleeker and more homogenous than the model it supersedes.
Both the Touring and the 3GT feature a longer wheelbase for additional rear legroom and a more versatile packaging concept. The extra length should also make provision for a bigger fuel tank and for a more spacious luggage compartment. A full-length panorama glass roof with open/tilt mode will be an option for both five-door variants.
How is the 3GT different from the new Three Touring and existing 5GT?
While the new Touring is going to be quantifiably roomier than the model it replaces, the 3GT is much more lifestyle-oriented and much sportier than the neither-fish-nor-fowl 5GT. It, too, has a deep and wide (and single-piece) tailgate, but there is more of a saloon silhouette to the rear end. In terms of height, the 3GT ranks midway between the 3-series saloon and the 5GT.
Both the 3-series saloon and Touring will reach showrooms in 2012, the 3GT will go on sale in early 2013, the 3-series coupe arrives at the end of that year, and the convertible debuts at the beginning of 2014. Waiting in the wings but not yet confirmed is a stylish and emphatically dynamic three-door shooting brake which could open up a completely new segment.
What about the engines in the new 2012 F30 BMW 3-series?
In addition to the revised six-cylinder engines introduced in the latest 5-series range, the Bavarians intend to equip the new 3-series with a selection of upgraded fours. Here is what to expect:
318i, 1.6-litre, 136bhp/148lb ft
320i, 1.6-litre, 177bhp/184lb ft
323i, 2.0-litre, 218bhp/221lb ft
325i, 2.0-litre, 252bhp/258lb ft
320d, 1.6-litre, 150bhp/236lb ft
323d, 2.0-litre, 197bhp/310lb ft
325d, 2.0-litre, 245bhp/384lb ft
The fuel-saving potential over the outgoing four-pot units ranges from 11 to 17%. More details on the new F30 3-series to follow this autumn.