Unveiled ahead of its official public debut next month at the Geneva Auto Show, the 2014 BMW 3 Series Gran Turismo is the latest variation to be spun from the automaker's best-selling model line. A scaled-down counterpart to the existing BMW 5 Series GT, this 5-passenger/5-door newcomer will be offered in the U.S. in both 328i and 335i guise and is set to arrive in showrooms here this summer.

Based on the latest F30 platform architecture, the new 3 Series Gran Turismo is 7.9-inches longer, 3.2-inches taller and has a 4.3-inch longer wheelbase than the existing 3 Series Sports Wagon. However, its sleekly rendered roofline and well-measured proportions endow it with a dynamic visual character that can be further "trim-tuned" to Sport Line, Modern Line, Luxury Line and M Sport spec. While unmistakably BMW, the front, side and rear detailing on the Gran Turismo incorporates unique design elements that set it apart from the Sedan and Wagon. Most prominent are its forward-canted grille, larger air intakes and revised lighting elements that complement the Gran Turismo's frameless doors and large hatch. It also introduces BMW's first active rear spoiler that automatically deploys at speeds above 68 mph to reduce lift as well as new "Air Breather" outlets. Located aft of the front wheels, they're designed to work with BMW's existing Air Curtains in the front apron to help reduce drag around the wheel arch area.

Inside, the BMW 3 Series Gran Turismo cabin is designed to pamper all aboard. While the basic design and feature set mirrors the 3 Series -- including the Sport/Modern/Luxury/M Sport elements -- front/rear seating height has been raised by 2.3 inches to improve sightlines as well as access/egress. The added wheelbase also translates into an extra 2.8 inches of aft legroom plus more headroom for those occupying the 40/20/40 split-folding bench seat. In max-hauling mode, capacity of the 3 Series Gran Turismo's rear bay rises from 18.4 to 56.5 cu ft and all versions of this versatile new BMW feature a standard power liftgate and offer a hands-free Smart Opener feature as part of the Comfort Access option.

Key powertrain elements in the new BMW 3 Series Gran Turismo are shared with the 3 Series Sedan and Sports Wagon. Here in America, the 328i Gran Turismo will be fitted with the 240-horsepower/2.0-liter TwinPower Turbo 4-cylinder while the 335i Gran Turismo nets the 300-horse/3.0-liter TwinPower Turbo inline-6. Both engines are backed by a standard 8-speed automatic transmission and feature BMW's mileage-enhancing Auto Start-Stop function, Brake Energy Regeneration and ECO PRO/ECO PRO Route systems. Like its 3 Series siblings, the Gran Turismo also will be available in rear-drive or xDrive all-wheel-drive configurations. While chassis tuning on the Gran Turismo has been tweaked to put a bit more emphasis on directional stability and long-distance comfort than the standard 3 Series Sedan and Sport Wagon, Sport and M Sport models will come with tauter M Sport underpinnings as well as offer adaptive suspension and variable sports steering options.

Pricing for the 2014 BMW 3 Series Gran Turismo will be announced closer to its on-sale date.


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