By Matt Davis
The 2014 BMW 3 Series Gran Turismo is being launched to a pretty cynical automotive press brigade. You know it. We know it. Heck, even BMW knows it. We’ve just returned from driving it on the rather unforgiving and sometimes nasty roads of Sicily, and even before we got behind the wheel, many of our media colleagues were busying themselves doubting the 3 GT‘s very raison d’être. So, despite the always excellent Sicilian hospitality, the day’s atmosphere was kind of fragile.
While the press in attendance seemed determined to nail every product expert to the wall for having been even tangentially associated with the larger 5 Series Gran Turismo, it seemed that BMW decided ahead of time to not introduce such a sensitive discussion topic. That strategy would do little to smooth things over as everyone started digging for dirt on BMW‘s so far clumsy Gran Turismo franchise.
As it turns out, we like the 3 GT despite so many packaging and design cards being stacked against it just by association with the 5 GT precedent. Automotive journalists are sometimes wrong en masse and this case of prejudice toward the 3 GT is one of those times.
And besides, much in the way the entire Buick brand still exists because China fell in love with it (entirely to General Motors‘ dumb-luck surprise), the 5 GT has somewhat thrived due to similar circumstances. The odd-duck 5 Series version – arguably the least appealing design ever to roll out of the halls of BMW – has found its savior almost exclusively in the Land of Confucius. After driving this new 3 GT, we have no reason to doubt it will find far more favor not just in China, but in all of BMW‘s major markets.