In a move aimed at preserving profitability while the future of global trade hangs the balance, BMW has announced that the F34 3 Series Gran Turismo will not be succeeded by a new generation. Love it or hate it, the 3 Series GT has proven to be a viable alternative to the more limited (and soon to be nonexistent) range of U.S.-available BMW wagons, by providing a tough-to-beat combination of practical cargo and occupancy capacities in a sporting package. However, as time has gone on, the driving public have been voting with their wallets, and the 4 Series Gran Coupe, which sacrifices a bit of functionality for better looks, has been among the best selling sedans in the model portfolio as of late. Some may have suspected the decision, after rumors and spy photos of a G21 Touring began circulating, but it should be remembered that the 3 Series GT achieved much greater success than BMW’s first attempt at the unique crossover segment, the F07 5 Series GT, which vanished back in 2017.
Here at BimmerLife, we’re no strangers to the fact that, for many of us, the BMW in the garage serves as the daily mode of transportation not only for ourselves, but for a myriad of other things and individuals within our orbit. While the 3 Series GT excelled at filling a certain gap in the lineup, it seemingly did so at the expense of compromised visuals in the form of a somewhat bulbous rear end. So much so, in fact, that when automotive enthusiasts felt need to criticize BMW’s more recent moves as an automaker, the GT models were among the first to come to mind. People would ask, “Why does BMW give us these ugly GT concoctions, when what we really want are wagons?”
BMW is specifically citing what is referred to as “product portfolio complexity,” and an apparent need to reduce it, for choosing to discontinue 3 Series GT development as all variants of the F30 go into their production sunsets. Beyond the aforementioned 4 Series though, which has been one of the best selling four-door cars from BMW for the last several months in the U.S., the real nail in the 3 Series GT coffin is the X3.
Over recent years, it seems like the automotive landscape has truly reached a tipping point in terms of the midsize and compact crossover SUV segments. A decade ago, high-performing variants of BMW’s X model lineup limited customers to choosing between the X5 M or X6 M. Two years ago in 2017, the third-generation X3 and and second-gen X4 brought with them an M Performance model in the form of the M40i, and this year, the new S58 M inline-six has allowed the SAV and SAC to join the full-fledged M array. Michelin-melting models aside though, the economies of scale from the sheer production volume of the X3 make it an easier sell against a GT, and it’s clear the secondary market is influenced by this as well—just look at used X3 inventory.
Models like the 5 Series and 3 Series GT have long been classified by potential buyers as cars that cannot make up their mind about what they are. The odd middle ground between sedan, sport wagon, and SAV perplexed many people, and although the automaker has gone so far as to say that the 3 Series GT retained a good level of demand, it apparently was not enough.
So, while some of us find disappointment in the 3 Series GT being left with no future, it seems like the majority are letting out an audible sigh of relief, that finally, at long last, BMW has sought to eliminate one of the most redundant production expenditures on its books. Now, if only they would concede on giving us some more long roof models, like the current G31 5 Series Touring and upcoming G21 3 Series Touring.—Alex Tock
[Photos courtesy BMW AG.]