2023 BMW 320Ld Gran Limousine Review
Numerous vehicles have set standards in their respective segments throughout the years, but one brand has always raised the most noise. The situation is similar in the market for entry-level sports sedans, where the BMW 3 Series has long held sway since debuting a few years ago.
As its name implies, the BMW 3 Series Gran Limousine is all about luxury and enormous dimensions, particularly in length and wheelbase. Its length, 4,819mm, is 110 millimetres longer than the standard 3 Series, and all of that extra length has been included in the wheelbase.
In essence, it is the 3 Series with a long wheelbase, and I commend BMW for maintaining proper proportions while lengthening the centre part, which includes the floor and the back doors. It doesn't appear awkward or heavy, coming from any perspective.
It's understandable why BMW is focusing even more on long-wheelbase sedans in India. After all, we are a predominantly chauffeur-driven bunch, especially at the premium end of the market.
The proof is in the pudding; the newly released new-generation 7 Series is only available in one extended wheelbase, and the long-wheelbase 5 Series will replace both the 5 Series and the 6 Series GT in 2019. The E-Class LWB, which is incredibly popular, deserves credit for initially introducing this concept to a lower rung of the luxury food chain. Still, it was BMW who struck gold by lowering it further lower with the 3 Series Gran Limousine in 2021.
Two years later, it's time for the 3 Gran Limo to get a makeover, and it appears that BMW has discreetly killed off the short-wheelbase 3 Series, which is now only available in the hot, six-cylinder M340i version. This proves that the vehicle was a huge success.
The Gran Limousine is essentially the 3 Series you desire. Was this the best course of action, and will the Gran Limo's redesign provide enough new features to make it more appealing?
Specifications Of The Car
With its single-L-shaped tail lamps and notched headlights, the pre-facelift appearance of this G20 3 Series felt like a brief deviation from the then-established design language of the 5, 6, and 7 Series.
This appearance was likely an homage to the cherished E46 3 Series. It appeared to represent the beginning of BMW's new approach, but it was quickly surpassed by the even more radical cues of the X7, iX, and, most recently, the new 7 Series.
This makeover integrates with the new style while maintaining a welcome level of constraint. For example, a moderate modification of the kidney grille has yet to result in the buck-toothed excess on the front of a 4 Series.
Although the headlamps haven't adopted the "split" design of the X7 and 7 Series, they have done away with the distinctive notch at the base in favor of new inverted C-shape LED Daytime Running Lamps, similar to those in the new BMW X1. At the rear, you'll notice darker glass surrounds for the tail-lamp lenses.
It's also important to note that, at least at launch, the 330Li gasoline engine and the 320Ld diesel will only be offered in the M Sport grade, which has a more aggressive appearance.
Although the aggressive front bumper, five-spoke 18-inch wheels, and dramatic fake diffuser at the back would have looked good on the standard-wheelbase car, they are quite out of place on the extended Gran Limousine. This automobile would have looked better in a more regal Luxury Line trim, which may eventually appear.
Let's talk briefly about the boot, which is enough at 480 liters on paper. However, the usable area you're left with is relatively short due to the heavy tray that holds the spare tire (international versions do not come with a spare). It won't be easy to squeeze two large pieces of luggage in there.
The pre-facelift 3 Series' interior was generally efficient and well-kept, although occasionally boring and lacking in luxury. With this new model, which has inherited the large curved screen from the iX and i4, they have improved upon that. The panel is divided between a 12.3-inch driver's display and a massive 14.9-inch infotainment touchscreen.
The dash has been cut down to make room for this enormous, vertical curving panel, which doesn't even obstruct your vision as much as you might expect. With vibrant, clear images, a size, scale, and a unique TV-like arrangement that give the cabin considerable wow value, the impact is astounding.
With easy-to-read visuals, logically organized and customizable widgets for various operations, and logically presented data, the most recent version of the BMW OS 8 software is also incredibly functional. Since the touch sensitivity is so strong, you won't have to poke it repeatedly when operating a vehicle.
Even cooler features include a fully animated 3D representation of the automobile in the appropriate color, whose lights, indications, doors, and even spinning wheels match to what you really do while also providing trip information.
It's so brilliant that, for the first time in a contemporary BMW, it is found that the users like using the touchscreen rather than the i-Drive click-wheel controller, which, happily, is still there in the 3 Series but has been completely eliminated in several recent BMW models, instead of a gear lever, which was replaced with a small toggle switch, much as in the Porsche 911, there is now no longer one.
This does not seem to offer any practical purpose other than to lessen visual clutter somewhat; rather, it feels like a portion of driver engagement has been taken away; for example, one can no longer physically swap gears by tapping up and down on the steering wheel.
Most of the center console's buttons have been eliminated, and a touchscreen now controls features like the air conditioner. This isn't very pleasant when driving, despite how sensitive the touchscreen has been engineered to be.
Better-looking and more comfortable polymers have been used throughout, improving quality, particularly in the cockpit area. The AC vents and the trim surrounding them have had their edges softened, among other small design adjustments, making the vehicle's interior less sterile than the previous model.
With the exception of the aforementioned screen, this car is well-equipped, with features like a Harman Kardon audio system, a panoramic sunroof, and three temperature control zones; adding a 360-degree camera would have beautifully completed the package.
The back seat, which has remained substantially untouched, is the key selling feature. Space is far more than you'll find in any competition car because of the 110mm larger wheelbase, now at 2,961mm.
There are nice headrest cushions to burrow your head into, so even if the seatback is a little upright for what is advertised as a limousine, it isn't much of a hassle once you are seated and moving. Sun shades for the back windows, which would have greatly aided in preventing heat buildup with the bigger windows, were a major oversight in this situation.
The available powertrains and chassis have not changed, leaving the driving experience mostly unchanged. The 2.0-liter turbo-petrol engine in the 330Li produces 258 horsepower and 400 Nm, while the 2.0-liter turbo-diesel in the 320Ld we drive produces 190 hp and 400 Nm. In case you were wondering, the fuel efficiency of the BMW 3 Series Gran Limousine is 19.61 kpl for diesel and 15.39 kpl for petrol.
Seeing a new car released with a diesel engine is now gratifying since more automakers are quitting diesel every year. One of the most powerful diesel engines available, the B47 2.0-liter fits BMW's dynamic driving philosophy well. It's really very enjoyable to drive in Sport mode, with the superb ZF 8-speed automatic transmission revving surprisingly easily and producing a wide range of power.
Even in high gear, it excels at loping lightly along the highway. Although it might not be the quietest engine, the car's excellent insulation means that virtually little noise is heard inside.
The digital driver's display, which has considerably sharper visuals and is much larger, has undergone significant development. The speedometer and tachometer are now much simpler to see out of the corner of your eye thanks to the three highly stylized digital instrument cluster designs, which are far more colorful and livelier than the previous version that you had to focus on while driving.
Compared to the standard-wheelbase 3 Series, it could be nimbler in terms of dynamics. It seems softer sprung throughout, and when turning around bends, you can sense the extra length.
Despite this, it is still a driver's vehicle, with far cleaner dynamics than the majority of its competitors. Though there is some body roll, the chassis still possesses a tautness and balance that makes it naturally delightful. The steering is of special note, with amazing weight and reaction in Sport mode, but also handy lightness in Comfort.
Although the 18-inch wheels can provide a small lumpiness over uneven terrain, the ride comfort is really good, striking a nice balance between body control and softness. Furthermore, there is sufficient ground clearance so that belly scraping won't be a problem when driving on large speed breakers.
It has long been acknowledged that the current 3 Series is the most technologically sophisticated model to date. And can say that with confidence since the 3 Series Gran Limousine is stuffed with protective gear to keep the passengers secure. The 330Li M Sport has front and rear parking sensors, cruise control, auto hold, an attentive monitor, electronic parking brakes, and three-point seat belts for every passenger in the back as standard equipment.
These safety features are in addition to the normal array of six airbags and emergency braking systems. It is less annoying when there are acoustic warnings if anything pops too near the automobile. Even the Cornering Brake Control should be regarded as a safety feature on the automobile because it does assist when it counts.
The 3 Series Gran Limousine performed well in our fuel economy test, averaging 13.2kmpl in the city and 22.03kmpl on the interstate. A quiet interior and a relatively grounded ride add to its capacity to go long distances. Over square-edged potholes, there is a very slight undercurrent of hardness at moderate speeds but nothing that would cause you any discomfort. This car's personality is well reflected in the overall comfortable ride quality.
Yes, the price is significantly more than that of the petrol-only Audi A4 (Rs 43.12 lakh-50.99 lakh), but you are paying for the extended wheelbase. The Mercedes-Benz C-Class, which has a standard wheelbase and costs between Rs. 57.20 lakh and Rs. 63 lahks, is comparable in price, which is fascinating. The redesigned BMW 3 Series Gran Limousine is expected to be a tremendous success since, even at this price, the formula is shown to be effective in India. It's good to see that traditionalists of sedans are still well-served, even if most people are switching to SUVs these days.
While the driver-focused sports sedan has a particular place in the hearts of enthusiasts, it's obvious that a longer wheelbase is the way to go for individuals who really purchase luxury cars in India.
So much so that BMW, whose brand philosophy is rooted in driving enjoyment and dynamics, has essentially transformed its iconic sports sedan into a luxurious stretched limo that can be chauffeur-driven.
The good news is that they've still been able to keep some of that charm from the driver's seat if you're so inclined. With the upgraded interior and infotainment system, it seems much more unique.
In conclusion, the 3 Series Gran Limousine is relatively easy. It's a luxury barge with a long wheelbase, and in a nation where people still revere sedans with roomy back seats. It's a tried-and-true formula with Mercedes and their E-Class, and we can't think of any reason why it wouldn't work here.
Even though it lacks key things that would have improved the backseat experience even further, we don't believe a better functional executive car is available at this price point.