2014 BMW 3 Series xDrive Gran Turismo: A star is born

7 May 2014 | 1,957 views | No Comment
  By Don Hammonds There are so many things to say about the 2014 BMW 3 Series Gran Turismo.   That's because more than some of the BMWs we've tested, this one is an enigma to us that we find at once fascinating, and yet so hard to pin down.  That's not because of anything negative, but  because it has so many wonderful qualities it's hard to figure out how to categorize it.      You could call it an incredible performance sedan because of its thunderous acceleration; more on that later.  You could also ocall it an terrific family sedan--if you can meet its $60,250 freight--more on that, too--because it has so many things families want.  It's got all wheel drive, a sense of utter stability when driving it, plenty of cargo room, and thanks to the folding seats and countless other niceties, it is one practical sports sedan-- maybe even more practical in an everyday sense than anything else BMW puts out.       You could also say it's a great luxury car--for obvious reasons to anyone who isn't deaf, dumb, blind or dead.      Our recommendation:  Drive one. And enjoy profusely.  Don't think about categorizing it.  You will waste too much precious time doing so. Too much fun to be had behind the wheel!        Our tester was a robust looking, athletic Mineral Gray Metallic sedan.  It carries a base price of $46,850, and worth every penny of it. Standard features include a robust 3.0 litern TwinPower Turbocharged, in line six cyluinder engine ith direct injection, Valvetronic and Doulbe-VANOS steplessly variable valve timing.  Other features are the Driving Dynamics Control (DSC), with four settings: Sport, Sport plus, ECO PRO, Dynamic Stablity Control (DSC), including Brake Fade Compensation, Start-off Assistant, Brake Drying, and Brake Standby features, and Dynamic Brake Control and Cornering Brake Control; high performance ventilated brakes with anti-lock system, xDrive all wheel drive, Xenon adaptive headlights, eight way power front seats, leather steering wheel, Bluetooth, IDrive with a six and a half inch ful color flat screen display; front and rear head protection system and countless other things. Frankly, for $47,000, this car is a bargain; nobody else can touch it with the same equipment and price. But this is where we advise caution.  Many of the things you're likely to want are things that can only be had in packages, that are both expensive and include some things you may not wish to have in order to get what you want.       That's not a bad thing. You simply have to weigh carefully what you already have as standard equipment, and how much you really need. Otherwise, the costs will truly mount up.  Our tester's final base price after these packages was $60,250.  That's because it had the MSport package costing $3,100 with 18 inch wheels, sport seats,  special exterior and interior trim and other niceties and other packages as well. The other packages were Cold Weather pack for $950, Dynamic Handling Package with  an adaptive M suspension and variable sport steering, for another $1,000; Premium Pack, with Comfort Access keyless entry, lumbar support, and satellite radio for $2200; a Technology Package for $3,150 that included the navigation, heads up display, BMW Online, remote services, BMW Apps, enhanced Bluetooth and Smart Phone and other features. MSport Brakes added $650 more. But the Sport Automatic Transmission, alarm system. power front seats, storage package,  garage door opener, BMW Assist eCall, and other items were standard.  If you want an upgraded sound system, Harmon Kardon surround sound is truly lovely--and costs another $875. Truly, though, we think even with the options and the final price of $60,250, the 3 Series x-Drive Gran Turismo is still a bargain. That's  because of the tremendous value equation offered, and because frankly, some of the standard equipment we outlined earlier isn't even available on other cars, no matter what the price. We checked.   Its all about BMW and its tradition of superb driving experiences that also happen to be safe and reassuring.  After all, how much is it worth to you to have a car that can stop on a dime, protect you like crazy if you get into a tricky driving situation or God forbid, an accident?    If you just stop with what's standard on this car, in other words, and don't order another thing, you're golden.  Your choice.           How does it feel driving this car?           It's like driving a muscled race horse that is just dying to break away.  You can really feel the pulsating energy this car presents even if you're driving ten miles an hour.  Seriously! We kid you not.  You just feel like the 3 Series Gran Turismo would just tear apart anything on the road with four wheels--and maybe even the road itself with only minimal goading from you.         One of the things we love about this car is that--just like every single 2014  BMW on the road--it keeps you so well informed.  If you goof with shifting the electric gear shift--and yes, it does take some getting used to because the positions and parking system are not intuitive at first --the car will give you some easy to follow instructions telling what you did and where you goofed. It will inform you about the goodness of the ECO PRO system with some easy to understand illustrated diagrams, as well as various other things about the car.        We loved the Driving Dynamics Control system. The Sport and Sport Plus settings were truly breathtaking and totally different from the other modes, and the Comfort setting provided lots of relaxed, reassuring driving moments, too. The ECO PRO setting worked fine, too; we routinely got a couple more miles per gallon than the 20 mpg rating for city driving.  But the car clearly doesn't like this setting; it slows things down enough that it begins to feel like a race horse pawing at the dirt impatiently to get things rolling.      We also loved the fold-down seats in the rear; you could just about fit a bicycle back there easily.      One issue we did have was the auto stop feature to save gas when you are stopped at traffic lights, for instance.  It still is more jerky and abrupt restarting when you hit the gas and take off, and it still needs major smoothing efforts.      We should also point out that this car, like all new BMWs comes with the BMW Ultimate Service maintenance program. For the first four years or 50,000 miles whichever comes first, your costs for engine oil services, engine drive belts, inspection services, wiper blade inserts, brake pads, brake disks and brake fluid, you pay absolutely nothing. The  fuel economy rating is 24 combined, 20 city and 30 highway, and it uses 4.2 gallons per 100 miles driven.  You spend $250 more in fuel costs over five years compared to other new vehicles.  Annual fuel cost is $2,350 based on driving 15,000 miles daily and $3.75 a gallon gasoline.      Truly, there were no problems or glitches with this car. Handling, steering, cornering, braking and acceleration were all flawless.     And the BMW 335 ixDrive Gran Turismo can be summed up in one word:       Magnificent!

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