BMW 3 Series Gran Limousine has been launched in India at a starting price of Rs 51.5 lakhs, ex-sh
The 3 Series, since its inception has been a Driver’s car. Over the generations, the 3 Series has essentially provided ‘Sheer Driving Pleasure’ to its owners. However, with changing market dynamics, BMW realized that there is a sizeable customer base which is also looking out for a Pleasurable Drive, when they are being driven around.
While BMW does have a long line-up for cars which focus on the rear-seat comfort, most of them do command a heavy price tag. BMW’s counterparts however have been aggressive in the category as many of them have launched Long-Wheel base versions of their entry-level premium sedans.
BMW realized that this too could be a good option and hence came up with the 3 Series Gran Limousine. The 3 Series Gran Limousine has been doing well on the sales charts, since it introduction in China. Now, BMW also thought of bringing the extended version of the 3 Series to India and we got a weekend to spend with the car (330Li). Here are our initial impressions:
The 3 Series Gran Limousine looks identical to its sibling, the standard 3 Series. If you don’t notice the additional ‘L’ badging on the tail-gate, it will be difficult for you to distinguish the Gran Limousine from the standard variant. In terms of differences, it is 120 mm longer in length while its wheel base is 110 mm longer when compared with the standard 3 Series. Overall, the sedan looks young, agile and sporty, typical of a 3 Series.
Major changes on the 3 Series Gran Limousine can be only felt once you step inside. You are greeted by a cabin which has been nicely done with some good quality leather upholstery and soft plastics. Quality levels are top-notch and when compared with the standard 3 Series, certain components do feel more premium. The combination of Vernasca leather in Cognac and black interior components does add an additional oomph factor to the car.
In the front row, the driver and the co-passenger get better cushioned seats with dedicated adjustable thigh supports. However, except the improved seating, there isn’t much of a difference when compared with the standard 3 series, and it is a good thing, because there wasn’t much to complain about.
Step in to the rear seats and this is where the majority of the differences can be felt. To begin with, you get 43 mm of additional leg room on the rear seat when compared with the standard 3 Series. If you are wondering where did the 110 mm extended wheel-base go, well, that space was used by BMW to improve upon the cushioning of the rear seats and we believe that BMW did a good job at it.
Quality of components on the rear also feel a little more premium, for example, the center arm-rest has a classier cup-holder opening mechanism and quality of plastics used has also improved. Just like the standard 3-series, the rear seats are best suited for 2 adults or 2 adults and a kid, at max, because the transmission tunnel in the middle considerably decreases the legroom for the middle passenger.
On the components and gadgetry front, BMW has brought in some additions. There is a new panoramic sunroof on offer, Android Auto has been integrated in the infotainment system (earlier, only Apple CarPlay was available), powered tail-gate functionality has been added and customers also get an all new Harman Kardon Surround Sound system (464 W, 16 loudspeakers), which sounds exceedingly beautiful.
Standard creature comfort features like 3-zone climate control, electrically adjustable front seats, ambient lighting, multi function leather-wrapped steering wheel etc. have been carried over from the regular 3 Series.
BMW hasn’t brought in any change to the powertrain set-up of the 3 Series. Like before, there are 2 engine options on offer. These include a 2 litre petrol motor which dishes out 258 hp and 400 Nm of max torque and a 2 litre 4 cylinder diesel engine which dishes out 190 hp and 400 Nm of peak torque. An 8-speed Steptronic AT is offered as standard on both the engines.
If numbers are to be compared, the 3 Series Gran Limousine is a little slower when compared to its shorter counterpart. The standard 3 Series (petrol) can do a 0-100 kmph in 5.8 seconds while the Gran Limousine takes 6.2 seconds for the same.
While the difference might be true on paper, however, once you get behind the wheel, there isn’t much of a difference which you can feel in terms of performance. The 330Li still does everything which you expect a 3-series to do, that is, provide the much-required thrill when you step up on the throttle.
Ride and Handling
This is a department in which the 3 Series Gran Limousine feels a little different when compared to its standard counterpart. The extended wheel base makes its presence felt when you take the car on sharp corners, however for regular commutes, the car still manages to provide sharp and crisp handling.
Overall, BMW has softened the suspension set-up which makes the ride more comfortable, though it does partially compromise on the sportiness of 3 series. Majority of the benefit of a softer suspension is felt on the rear seat, where the overall ride has become a lot more luxurious.
In case you walk into a BMW showroom looking out for a 3 Series, you will be spoilt for choice at the moment. BMW has the standard 3 Series – 320d, 330i, and the 330i MSport on offer, the recently launched 3 Series Gran Limousine – 320Ld, 330Li and 330Li M Sport ‘First Edition’ and also the 3 Series GT. While the 3 Series GT will soon get discontinued, it will be the 3 Series Gran Limousine which will become the range-topping variant in the 3 Series line-up.
With the introduction of the 3 Series Gran Limousine, BMW has tried to bridge the gap between the 3 Series and the 5 Series, thereby aiming to provide the best of both worlds with the sedan, as it has managed to retain the sportiness of the 3 Series and at the same time has added more comfort features for the rear passengers.
However considering the steep sticker price of INR 51.5 lakhs (ex-showroom for 330Li), it might make make more sense for the buyers to choose a 3 Series (preferably the 330i M Sport) if they are planning on spending more time on the front seats or spend some additional lakhs and get a 5-series if they prefer to get driven around.