BMW 3 Series Gran Limousine Review
<em>BMW 3 Series Gran Limousine Review</em>

BMW 3 Series Gran Limousine Review

The BMW 3 Series has had a certain image for a long time. It is ‘the’ sporty luxury sedan and has been praised by owners and enthusiasts alike for having the perfect balance between sportiness, luxury and, lately, tech in the segment. The 3 Series then was the car of choice for many of us who chose to drive themselves. But things are changing now. The worsening traffic situation in all of our cities could be to blame, but more and more customers at the lower-end of the luxury car market just don’t want to be driving themselves consistently.


Automakers have caught on to this. BMW’s 2021 3 Series Gran Limousine was the first in the segment to offer a longer wheelbase for increased space and comfort in the rear seat, and a little over a year later, BMW has decided to go all in. With a mid-cycle refresh, the 3 Series regular wheelbase version will be offered only as the performance-oriented M340i while all other BMW 3 Series cars will be available solely in long wheelbase form. We spend some time with the new 3 Series to know if it still delivers the driving thrills you associate with a 3 Series, while taking the game up by a notch when it comes to the luxury and comfort on offer.





The 3 Series straddles the middle ground between the radical design of some of the newer BMWs like the 7 Series and i7, while staying true to a classic, understated styling ethos. As a result, the grille has been redesigned, but it isn’t as in your face as other newer models. The headlights lose the prominent notch at their base and have a very distinctive light signature with C-shaped elements in the DRLs. A detail I particularly like is the darkened glass on the tail lamps, which goes perfectly well with the sharp, angular lighting elements at the back. At least for now, both the engine options –– the 330Li petrol and the 320Ld diesel –– can only be purchased with the fairly aggressive M Sport trim, which offers sportier bumpers, 18-inch alloys and a faux diffuser at the rear.





On the inside, there are a few key differences. The highlight has to be the massive curved display first seen on some of BMW’s newer EV models, split into a 12.3-inch instrument console and a 14.9-inch infotainment display. Both displays are crisp, responsive and add immensely to how the cabin looks. On the software front, BMW OS8 does a great job of making everything seamless. Of note is the 3D model of the car that shows up on the driver’s instrument console, accurately portraying real-time information such as the exterior colour, headlight on/off status and position of the doors and the wheels. Other changes of note include a new toggle switch instead of the traditional gear lever, new carbon-fibre trim on the centre console and better-quality plastics all around. As a result, the BMW 3 Series Gran Limousine feels luxurious, with great attention paid to all touch points around the car.


The front seats are extremely comfortable with the right amount of cushioning and a good view out of the cabin, but the rear seat is what a lot of buyers will be more interested in. To begin with, the 110mm-longer wheelbase means that it has loads more room than anything else in its price range. The seat recline angle too is judged perfectly well, while the large panoramic sunroof adds immensely to the feeling of sheer space. There are soft cushions to help you find a very comfortable position for your head and neck. Rounding out the experience is a 16-speaker Harman Kardon sound system to keep you entertained while on the go.



Engine and Transmission


The 330Li petrol model is the way to go if you are looking for a bit more oomph (0-100kmph in 6.2 seconds), but for a lot more people, the 320Ld would make more sense. Still sprightly (the 2.0-litre diesel engine produces 193PS and 400Nm), the diesel also has a much better fuel efficiency figure at 19.61 kmpl as opposed to 15.39 kmpl for the petrol. While buyers of a car that would cost upwards of Rs. 65 lakh on-road might not worry too much about the price of fuel, it definitely makes a substantial difference when it comes to the car’s driving range. The diesel, with the amount of torque that it has to offer, is punchy and a treat to drive. The 8-speed gearbox is brilliant and intuitive. While the engine itself is relatively loud, not a lot of it comes through to the very quiet cabin.



Ride and handling


On the move, the 3 Series Gran Limousine feels as sure-footed as ever. It might not be as planted as the regular wheelbase model, but it easily has the most confidence-inspiring ride and handling of any luxury sedan in the segment. With the longer wheelbase, it seems like BMW has also worked on the ride to make it softer and more pliant. The result is a car that takes bad roads in its stride very well. Crab-walking over speed breakers defeats the purpose of a luxury car and turns your relaxing drive into an anxiety ridden nightmare –– owners of a luxury sedan from a prominent rival can testify. Potential 3 Series owners, thankfully, don’t have to worry about that one bit, as the Gran Limousine handled such obstacles without any fuss whatsoever.





I am happy to report that BMW has ensured that the 3 Series, even in long wheelbase form, stays true to what it has always stood for –– performance, assured handling and no-nonsense luxury. At Rs 57.90 lakh (ex-showroom, India) it competes with the Audi A4 and the Mercedes-Benz C-Class among others. While it might look similarly specced on paper, the Beamer’s promise of driving thrills and a well-appointed, feature-rich cabin should make it a hot favourite this year.


Images: BMW India

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