BMW has changed itself and its latest version of its 3 Series happens to be for the ‘back seat driver’. Let’s take a look at what it’s all about.
BMW 3 Series Gran Limousine Review
What is the 3 Series Gran Limousine all about?
BMW has always been about driving pleasure before anything else, and its 3 Series is perhaps one of its most iconic cars worldwide. Despite SUVs gaining popularity, the 3 Series continues to hold ground for its design, performance, and also having that quality plus driving appeal, which makes it different. The new Generation 3 Series, launched last year, was a shift since, along with being bigger than its predecessor; it was also tuned to be a bit more comfort-oriented.
The steering and ride were changed, which was not a bad thing since that is what the segment demands. However, in some ways, BMW also managed to keep the basic driving pleasure DNA embedded in it via the excellent new 330i and also the diesel. However, this move to launch the 3 Series Gran Limousine is surprising at first, it does make sense when thought after some time. This BMW is meant for the owner who would like to be driven around and not drive it themselves. And on top of that it is a 3 Series which has always been about its driving!
The reason for the shift is the changing requirements and the success of its arch-rival Mercedes. Mercedes launched its E-Class with a long wheelbase some years back, and since then, it has completely dominated this segment. It has space that no other car in its class has due to its longer wheelbase over its rivals. BMW has done the same, but instead of choosing to launch the 5 Series with a long wheelbase, the 3 Series has been chosen due to its cheaper cost and higher sales potential. As a result, we have the 3 Series Gran Limousine or in other words a 3 Series with a longer wheelbase. Along with that, BMW has also changed the positioning and made the 3 Series a more appealing car for those who would look at a chauffeur-driven car. It is the only car in its class to have a longer wheelbase.
How does it look?
The 3 Series Gran Limousine is fitting a gap between the 5 Series and the 3 Series. It is the replacement for the 3 Series GT that has been discontinued worldwide. The 3 Series Gran Limousine is defined by numbers as the wheelbase plus length has been increased plus some small tweaks. From the front, the 3 Series Gran Limousine can be mistaken for the regular 3 Series with the same kidney grille, plus the front is the same as the BMW 3 Series Luxury line.
It is a sporty-looking car with the kidney grille nicely stretched out and a nice shape for fog lamp enclosures. There are also 3 Series design details, including the short overhangs plus the long bonnet.
When seen from the side, you can see the difference between the standard and the long-wheel version. A long wheelbase means the wheelbase or the space between the wheels have been increased. Hence it is the same with the 3 Series Gran Limousine where there are longer doors now being added to the rear of the GL.
As a result, the new BMW 3 Series Gran Limousine is now the longest car in its class, with a length of 4,819 millimeters. That makes the difference with the 3 Series Gran Limousine having a much more classy appearance, whereas the standard sedan is much sportier. Thanks to its length, it’s more about elegance, while the appearance is of a much bigger car or a car from a segment higher.
Move to the rear, and it is a classy but sporty look with the three-dimensional L- shaped LED taillights along with two large tailpipes. This is the Luxury Line, whereas the MSport trim gives it a much more aggressive appearance, however, we think this version suits the 3 Series Gran Limousine more. The build quality plus the paint finish is, of course, brilliant. Speaking of which, there are four colors available with the BMW 3 Series GL namely – Mineral White, Melbourne Red, Carbon Black, and Cashmere Silver.
What about the interiors?
The 3 Series Gran Limousine is all about the interior since that is where the extra space has gone to. However, before that, let us take a look at the interior design. The design itself is simple and somewhat less flashy than rivals or sporty, but the quality of materials with the leather to the chrome or metal used is all top quality.
The new 3 Series is a lot more appealing and luxurious than the earlier one, plus there are some nice details like the glass gear-lever. There is a big 10.25-inch touch screen which is intuitive to use and it also has a high-quality display. Move to the steering wheel and it is a sporty looking one, true to BMWs but behind it, the old dials are changed with new digital dials which is 12.3-inch in size.
Is it spacious?
Now let us talk about the rear seat since this is what the car is all about. In plain numbers, the 3 Series Gran Limousine has an extra 110 millimeters of wheelbase being added to it, which automatically also means that the rear doors are now 110 millimeters longer when compared to a standard 3 Series sedan.
In terms of plain rear seat space, there is an extra 43 millimeters of legroom now in the rear seat, which means it has the most space in its class here. Upon testing the rear seat, we have to say that it is by far the most spacious sedan as you can really stretch out with so much legroom and a good amount of headroom. You relax after a long day at work and the extra space makes all the difference. However, the big central tunnel means that this is best for two persons at the back. The seat itself is more comfortable plus the angle is set at a more relaxed angle. Also changed is the Vernasca leather upholstery being given here plus there is a newly designed headrest along with a new central armrest between the rear seats.
Is it feature rich?
In terms of features, the 3 Series Gran Limousine is very well equipped and even gets more features than a standard 3 Series. It all starts with a bigger panoramic sunroof, which is crucial as it adds an airy feel to the cabin. Then you have ambient lighting with six colors while new here is the illuminated strip on the back of the front seats. Other features include a three-zone automatic climate control with active carbon filters (which cools the cabin down quickly), a Harman Kardon Surround Sound system with 16 speakers, wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto (useful and convenient), wireless charging, parking Assistant with rearview camera, etc.
There is also the MSport which gets Gesture Control which recognizes hand gestures and there are six of them, including turning up the volume or answering/rejecting a call. Another important feature is the heads-up display which brings more information to the drive without the need to look down at the instrument cluster. In terms of safety, you get features like six airbags, Attentiveness Assistance, Dynamic Stability Control (DSC), electronic parking brake with auto hold, and ISOFIX child seat mounting.
What engines are offered?
The 3 Series Gran Limousine is available with two engine options. The petrol is the 330Li which is a two-litre four-cylinder turbocharged making 258hp and 400Nm. The diesel is also a two-litre four-cylinder, which makes 190hp and 400Nm. Standard is an eight-speed automatic transmission while you also get paddle shifters which give you manual control. There are also launch control and drive modes like Eco Pro, Comfort, Sport, and Sport+.
How does it drive?
The BMW 330Li is the pick of the bunch as it is smooth and extremely refined. There is barely any sound when you push the start button while compared to the standard 3 Series the ride is less busy and the suspension more silent. The Gran Limousine rides very well plus the refined engine adds to the luxury experience. The softer suspension is the key to the 3 Series Gran Limousine having a better ride over the standard 3 Series. Even if you drive the car does not feel big in its size and it is agile while the engine is superb. It is silent when you want it to be, but lets out a lovely snarl when driven in “S” mode. Overall you can really have some fun driving this car fast. Of course the sharpness and the handling brilliance of the standard 3 Series have been toned down and the soft suspension brings some body roll but for most drivers, this car offers enough thrills behind the wheel. The steering feels light but direct and weighs up with an increase in speed.
Now when you do sit at the back you will notice how the car rides and the suspension does not make you move around. The tyres and the suspension absorb more of the road, hence making it a very comfortable chauffeur-driven experience. However, the 135mm ground clearance and the longer wheelbase means going over speed breakers requires more caution.
Is it fuel efficient?
The 3 Series Gran Limousine is heavier and drinks more than the standard 3 Series but 12kmpl is very much possible while driving it fast will make it around 7/8kmpl for 330Li petrol.
BMW 3 Series Gran Limousine Review: Should you buy one?
The 3 Series Gran Limousine starts at Rs 51.50 lakh while the top-spec MSport is Rs 53.90 lakh (all prices ex-showroom). In terms of pricing, the 3 Series GL is about Rs 9 lakh more expensive over the standard 3 Series plus is also amongst the most expensive in its class. However, the extra money you pay goes into the longer wheelbase which makes this car stand out amongst its rivals. No other sedan offers this much space while it is still great to drive like any 3 Series. Overall, in short, it is the most complete luxury sedan in its class right now.