BMW's next niche vehicle will be a smaller Gran Turismo based on the next-generation 3-Series.

BMW has a pretty successful record over the last decade or so of introducing additional models that create new niches in the market but that end up selling more than at niche volumes.

Now, here is the next biggie vehicle - the 2013 3-Series Gran Turismo (GT), based on the next-generation 3-Series - spied for the first time.

The 2013 3-Series Gran Turismo is looking very much like a baby 5-Series GT, which is exactly what it is meant to be.

The prototype spied here has a much higher front end, ride height and seating position than the current batch of next-generation 3-Series prototypes we've seen and quite possibly a longer wheelbase (just as the 5-Series GT sports a longer one than on the standard 5er).

Engines expected will be an array of diesels and petrols, some completely new, that will go into the next 3-Series. A good fit will also be the new 2.0 liter turbo with an output of 245 PS/180 kW (242 bhp) and 350 Nm (258 lb-ft) of torque recently introduced in the X1 xDrive28i.

The 2013 3-Series GT is expected to launch about a year after the introduction of the next-generation 3-Series due as a 2012 model.