If you are in the market looking to buy a sedan, then in today's day and age where SUVs are the talk of the town, it is safe to assume you are someone who holds the driving experience in high regard. But, what if that sedan was not a luxury car trying to be sporty but rather a sporty sedan giving you a healthy dose of luxury and comfort? And even better, what if it came with a German badge? Well, there’s a new car in town, fulfilling those exact needs, and it's called the BMW 3 Series Gran Limousine. It has been given a facelift, which means an updated design and a host of new features, and it has been launched in India at a starting price of Rs 57.90 lakh (ex-showroom). And being a "Gran Limousine" version of the 3 Series, it is meant to offer more comfort than the standard model and for that, BMW has stretched the wheelbase of the car to open up more space for the passengers. Here, we take a closer look at what the car offers and help you decide wether it is worth your money.
WATCH: BMW 3 SERIES GRAN LIMOUSINE REVIEW
BMW 3 Series Gran Limousine: Design
Now, of course, this is a facelift of the 3 Series Gran Limousine but what a face this is. You see, when you say things like faces and BMW together, people are at each other with pitchforks in their hands. However, in the case of this car, I believe that this is one of the prettiest cars that BMW is making and is on sale in India right now.
Every design element works well with each other. Overall, this is not a case of a single design element dominating all the rest but all of it is a rather cohesive design that comes together handsomely. The approach from BMW seems to have shifted rather drastically because if we take a look at the outgoing 3 Series Gran Limousine or GL in short, you will notice that the company was going for a luxurious look. With this facelift, however, the intent is to clearly look sporty. The now slimmer twin-pod LED headlamps and the redesigned Kidney Grille have been updated and go well with the new aggressively styled front bumper. The new air intakes at the front are meant to cool the brakes and add to that sporty appeal.
From the sides, the combination of the long hood with short front overhangs visually accentuates the car’s 4.8-metre length. At the back, the flared wheel arches, the slim lights, the dual exhaust, and the pinched-up boot lid complete the sporty package. However, I am yet to figure out how I feel about the rear bumper. I see the intent of the rear-diffuser-like design element but, at least visually, I am not sure if it looks right.
Overall, though, the car is definitely a good-looking one. What's important to note is that if you are not completely on board with the new design language that other BMW cars are coming with and have that massive vertical grille, like the new M3 for example, then the 3 GL is your best bet at having a modern BMW car with this design. And honestly, this factor alone may be all that you need to find this car desirable.
BMW 3 Series Gran Limousine Review: Interior
And the good bits continue even when you step inside. The first thing that greets you, which is also perhaps the highlight of this facelift, is a massive piece of glass in front of you. This is a massive screen and at first glance, you will notice that it is tilted towards the driver for better reach, making you feel special. This is a combination of a 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster and a 14.9-inch infotainment system that merge together inside this glass slab giving you that seamless screen feels.
These screens are running BMW’s latest version of their operating software and it really makes great use of all the real estate. The graphics are crisp, the animations are nice and you have a plethora of icons to choose from which really makes it feel like a big tablet. And, the best part is that this car comes with wireless Android Auto and wireless Apple CarPlay, so once you enable that, it is unlike an experience you’ve had before. For example, if you happen to use Google Maps, thanks to the sheer size and width of the screen you have a massive view of the roads and all the other information that the app displays which makes life really easy.
What’s next to the infotainment system is the instrument cluster. Now, this too can be customised and you can choose the content that you want to be displayed over here, be it Maps, be it the music you are listening to or your typical, old-school numbers on the screen. All in all, the customisability is high, the readability is really nice and the cool factor is really, really high.
What’s also new is the gear lever which is rather small. The upside is that it adds to the feeling of spaciousness for the front passengers as there isn’t a conventionally-sized gear lever in place but what it trades off for this is the driver's connect with the car and the experience of engaging with the gear lever while driving. Unfortunately, with this new gear lever design, the BMW 3 GL now does not have a manual transmission shift mode. Yes, you can control the shifts through the new paddle shifters that the car gets but then again, it is not the same as shifting up and down with a conventional gear shifter.
BMW 3 Series Gran Limousine Review: Rear Seat Experience
Now coming to the rear seat experience and the ‘Gran Limousine’ part of this car’s name, where you really want to be is in the rear seat. Since the car is now longer than usual thanks to the extended wheelbase, space has really opened up for the rear passengers. With the front seat set as per my height and as per my preference as to how much space I would need at the front – for reference, I am 5’10” – I had more than enough knee room at my disposal. There is no brushing against the seat even if I stretch out my legs to be comfortable. And with the new headrests with mushy pillows, it becomes a really nice place to be in.
Additionally, you’ve got a drop-down armrest that comes with a couple of retractable cup holders and also has a small but flat compartment place to store things like your phone. But even if you fold the armrest away, I wouldn’t recommend having three people sit abreast because you have a big transmission tunnel protrusion in the middle which would make the middle passenger a little uncomfortable.
Also Read: BMW iX & i4 Review: The new Ultimate Driving Machine?
BMW 3 Series Gran Limousine Review: Performance
The new 3 GL continues to be a true BMW at the end of the day. Despite it becoming more comfortable and more feature-loaded than before, it has not compromised on the things that make it stand out amongst the rest of the competition, which is the way it drives. What we drove was the 330Li variant which comes with a 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbo petrol engine that makes 258 horsepower and 400 Nm of torque. The car also comes in the 320Ld diesel variant that also gets a 2.0-litre turbocharged unit with lesser power and a higher mileage claim. Both engine options come with an 8-speed automatic transmission.
Thanks to the power of turbocharging, this engine is capable of taking the car from 0-100 km/h in 6.2 seconds. Even once you are past those speeds and you want that punch of power, all you really have to do is put your foot down and power comes to you immediately. The driving experience is engaging and makes you want to get back to it as soon as you can. And different factors like the steering feedback, perfect 50:50 weight distribution and the driver ergonomics make the experience complete. You also have three drive modes to choose from – Sport, Eco Pro, and Comfort, all with their own set of graphical interfaces with relevant information. The ride setup is not the plushest in its segment, however, it strikes a good balance between being sporty and comfortable.
When the new 3 Series Gran Limousine is shown those corners, it really steps up the game and comes into its own. It almost eggs you on to take that corner a little bit faster. The key takeaway from the driving experience is the feedback that it provides to the driver. When you want to go fast, you know exactly what the car is doing and there is no disconnect. But when you take things easy, the 3 GL transforms into a well-behaved luxury sedan.
The car also comes with features like Auto Start-Stop, Brake-Energy Regeneration and with the facelift, even the Kidney Grille has become smarter as it closes the air vents inside it for better efficiency and opens it up when things like the engine, brakes, and other components need air.
BMW 3 Series Gran Limousine Review: Verdict
At the end of the day, the BMW 3 Series Gran Limousine feels like an all-rounder and builds on its strength of good driving dynamics and pairs it with modern luxury and comfort. In short, for those of you who are still confused as to whether you like to be seated at the front to have that driver’s experience or if you like being seated at the back to be chauffeured around during those Monday morning office commutes, the 3 Series Gran Limousine is a great option for you to consider.
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