Why would I buy it?
- Additional rear space
- Frugal engine
Why would I avoid it?
- No adjustment for the front passenger seat from the rear
- Tight on space for middle seat occupant
Engine and Performance
Nestled within this 3 Series Gran Limousine 320Ld, that you see here, is a 190bhp/400Nm 2.0-litre twin-turbo diesel that sends power to the rear wheels via an eight-speed automatic transmission. To begin with, this mill is a legend given its history of powering a variety of BMWs over generations. Plus, it is fastened onto the new-gen 3 Series’ CLAR underpinnings that’s known not only to be lighter than earlier, but immensely stronger/rigid too. Being light-footed now has its advantages. So, as you step on the gas, this bimmer makes a run for it owing to the more-than-adequate grunt at hand.
But it’s clear to me that as the revs swish past about 2,000rpm, the turbo coughs wildly to serve a strong punch to aid one in gaining speed in a snap. Furthermore, staying at higher speeds doesn’t have the motor break a sweat since there’s always ample performance on standby. Now, we didn’t have our VBox handy at the time, but it felt extremely quick, influencing us to agree on BMW’s claims of the 0-100kmph run taking a rather swift 7.6 seconds. Yes, impressive due to the dimensions and engine capacity. As for the ‘daily commute’ spectrum of activities, this 3 Series delivers a smooth experience in the wake of its eight-speed gearbox carrying out a sublime job by working slickly and silently in the background.
Of course, other than some diesel clatter, there’s not much buzz from this mill. And truth be told, toggling to the Eco-Pro mode reduces the engine note considerably since its frugal intent leaves the mill notably unstressed. The other modes, namely ‘Sport’ and ‘Comfort’, each, regulate the steering and throttle responses conducive to the nomenclature. Finally, the chauffeur-driven kind will have a comfortable experience seated at the rear, with little to no fuss even when the driver pulls off a quick overtake.
Ride Quality and Handling
BMWs of yore have me doped up to the eyeballs, and this 3 comes nothing short of fulfilling an engaging driving experience. Corners are carved out with relative ease, pushing even a novice to take braver steps to maybe even induce some drifting. The intensely responsive steering has just the right heft about it that weighs up appropriately to be able to orchestrate pristine manoeuvres. Magically, the added length hasn’t affected the 3 Series’ handling either.
To display such handling, we’d be daft to expect the ride quality to be anything short of firm. Nevertheless, it isn’t of the bone-jarring kind, with BMW managing to find a sweet balance between ride and handling. And at the same time, it manages to absorb most of the irregularities modestly. Surely, the damping and chassis setup is to praise here, but you can’t ignore the role of smaller wheels and chunkier rubber for this conduct.
Comfort, Convenience, and Features
Since the idea behind this Gran Limousine is the added length (110mm extended wheelbase), let’s dive straight into the rear. For one, the additional leg-room is glaringly visible, then, the cabin feels airier and thereby markedly more spacious. On the contrary, there’s no running away from the high transmission tunnel and protruding central vents. Ironically, as much as the extra dimensions have substantially eased ingress/egress, we’d love to see a front-seat slider functionality for this long-wheelbase 3.
This brings us to the 3’s comfortable front seats which are still the stars of the show. One is instantly teleported to a sense of comfort that’s also brought about by the use of leather, high-quality plastics, and two large screens. What’s even nicer is that BMW has stuck to using physical buttons for the functions, and although abundant, they’re well spread out so that one eventually develops muscle memory for them. There are also buttons for the 10.25-inch display (BMW’s live cockpit professional) with navigation, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.
As regards the features, this Luxury Line trim gets ambient lighting, a 360-degree camera, an all-digital instrument cluster, a Harman Kardon sound system with sixteen speakers, and BMW’s native apps that can be downloaded from the respective online stores. One is also benefited from the leather upholstery, three-zone climate control with rear vents, front/rear USB type-C charging ports, wireless charging, and then some more. That said, a variety of sun blinds would have done this one good.
In terms of safety, this 3 comes with six airbags, ABS with brake assist, cornering brake control, traction control, and tyre pressure monitoring system. We especially liked the auto parking assist which parks the car for you. All that’s required is for the driver to identify an appropriate parking spot, work the pedals with the guidance of the onboard automated systems, and voila, your long-wheelbase 3 Series will be parked safely in a jiffy!
Well, just so that you hear it from me; this Gran Limousine is essentially a stretched standard 3 Series. You can only tell it apart by viewing the elongated side profile and larger rear doors. Everything else is the same. So, in other words, the face with the laser headlamps, the iconic kidney grille, alloy wheel design, and the basic silhouette along with the rear portion sporting the L-shaped tail-lamps, are all identical to the regular model. BMW has done a fair job of retaining the erstwhile elegant/sophisticated appearance despite swelling the proportions.
For the love of driving, the BMW 3 Series has always been the much sought after; a reputation that’s taken decades to build. Off late though, varied customer requirements have made it imperative for BMW to also make it luscious to one’s comfort buds. And what better way than to shove some space into it. Now, at a price that ranges from Rs 61.77 to Rs 64.63 (petrol/diesel, OTR Mumbai), this package smartly appeals to both driver and occupants. Sure, we can nit-pick on it for lacking some features, but they aren’t deal-breakers by far. So there you have it, in this respect, a genuine all-rounder.
Photos: Kapil Angane