A Gran 3 Series Joins The Stable

Do you know what’s better than a single 328i? How about a pair of 328i’s?! Yes, the BMWs are multiplying; after an eight-year-long hiatus, my beloved E36 328i, Cassie, has a new sibling, another—albeit newer—328i, and I am again driving a BMW as my daily conveyance.

After accepting a new job and turning in the company car, I looked at a brand-new X2, but with the M35i version still on the horizon and a fairly urgent need to acquire a vehicle, I went with the less-costly Certified Pre-Owned option.

Much like my last BMW daily-driver, a 1995 318ti Club Sport, the new car is also a hatchback: a 2016 328i xDrive Gran Turismo, to be corporately correct with the name—or, as it shall be known in the interim, a 328xi GT.

I say interim because every vehicle that I have owned is eventually bestowed a proper human name; my cars tend to have enough personality that they deserve a name. But this process does require a getting-to-know-you phase before the inevitable “Aha!” moment when the perfect name shimmers into consciousness. With a whole lot of seat time planned for the coming weeks, this shouldn’t take too long.

Somehow, throughout my years of car purchases, I have avoided any and all shades of silver, gray, or the related variant de jour. Not that I have anything against such hues, especially when paired with the right vehicle shape—indeed, there was a stunning M4 in Mineral Gray Metallic sitting in the showroom—it’s just that I prefer a bit more color in my automotive exteriors. The 328xi GT sports Imperial Blue Metallic, an understated but alluring color that scratches my itch to own a blue car. It even contrasts nicely with the Boston Green Metallic of the older 328i.

The new Gran Turismo in Imperial Blue Metallic looks at home next to the E36 3 Series.

Red stitching spices up the black Dakota leather interior.

Of course, while the paint is a bit flashier, I settled for black Dakota leather with a flourish of red stitching inside. It works, and the dark leather should hide any errant particles of food that the kids may deposit—or, you know, that I might drop. And if I need to lighten things up, there is a rather vast panoramic sunroof to offer some extra illumination.

It’s a minor shame that the original spec didn’t include LED headlights, even if the standard bulbs seem to do the trick, and the fog lights are genuinely useful for spotting nighttime woodland critters. Other extras? There are heated door mirrors, heated seats, and an equally toasty steering wheel (although it is debatable whether those particular options should be considered extras here in Cleveland, Land Of The Wind And Snow). Included with the Technology Package is the head-up display, which has already proven useful and made the primary speedometer practically unnecessary. Navigation with real-time traffic monitoring is a boon when traveling through multiple bigger cities, and it makes the lack of Apple Car Play and its suite of mapping apps tolerable.

The GT is big, especially compared to the E36. While the F30 sedans are closer in size, with a total length of 190 inches, the Gran Turismo stretches over fifteen inches past its older sibling and nearly matches the F10 5 Series in dimensions. And hey, that 115-inch wheelbase should provide quite comfy cruising, even on the optional eighteen-inch wheels. Oh, and the added legroom and trunk space will be a boon when transporting the family on weekend road trips.

There is a lot of storage space underneath that hatchback .

The 3 Series GT dwarfs its E36 sibling.

241 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque are developed by the N20B20 four-cylinder.

In all, I am quite happy with my acquisition, and I suspect that the 3 Series GT will excel at munching highway miles, which is precisely what I need right now. And with that, a big “Thank you!” to my sales advisor, Joe Chern, and the rest of the team at BMW Cleveland in Solon. It was, without a doubt, a most pleasurable automotive purchase—perhaps the best that I have ever experienced.

I’ll bet that buying an M2 Competition would be just as easy. I mean, the BMWs are multiplying.—Chris Doersen

[Photos courtesy BMW AG, Chris Doerson.]

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