• 2023 BMW 3 Series Gran Limousine: First Drive Review

The 3 Series limousine gets refreshed for 2023

It may be a world dominated by SUVs, but BMW hasn’t lost focus when it comes to sedans. The Bavarian carmaker, however, seems to prefer offering more of the longer wheelbase models thanks to the rise in demand. The flagship 7 Series long-wheelbase was recently launched in India, and there are plans to offer only LWB versions of other models like the 5 Series shortly. While rivals have offered similar vehicles earlier, the 3 Series is already being offered as one and enjoys being the only such offering in the segment. For 2023, BMW has decided to only offer the Gran Limousine variant, which seems to be the more popular choice for a majority of buyers. Of course, there is the M340i for the enthusiast, but the 3 Series Limousine ticks more boxes for buyers looking at a luxury car focused more towards value, comfort, and efficiency. The Chinese market loves sedans with additional rear legroom, and it seems to be the trend here in India as well. However, many people still prefer the standard wheelbase model and are now forced to choose the chauffeur-driven option. Can the limousine appeal to the enthusiast, and does the facelift rob away some elegance?

The G20 3 Series carried forward the lovely silhouette of its predecessor and made the overall styling even more pleasing to the eye. To me, the 3 Series and its various sportier siblings (M340i, M3) are probably the most desirable sports sedans ever. The overall proportion and long hood are 3 Series signatures. The Gran Limousine, as the name suggests, is longer thanks to an increased wheelbase but doesn’t play with the regular model’s proportions, and that isn’t a bad thing. The sporty wheels and the eyecatching shade help retain the athletic look of a BMW, which makes it appealing to the enthusiast too. The new face, thankfully, lacks the massive kidney grille seen on current BMWs and has been tweaked only slightly. It’s the headlamp that has been revised with newer DRL signatures, while the bumper is all-new and part of the M Sport trim that also happens to be the only option one can opt for this time around. The rear end also gets a new bumper with a faux diffuser that, for some reason, is also finished in the body colour; a contrasting shade or gloss black detailing would have certainly gone well with the sporty theme.

The interior is a great place to be seated and also gets a refreshed design to make it all the more appealing. The biggest highlight is the inclusion of the large curved screen that is now a BMW USP, as seen on other models in the portfolio. The instrument cluster is a 12.5-inch section, while the infotainment side of the screen is an impressive 14.9 inches (that’s as much screen real estate as a regular laptop). The UI has been designed keeping in mind the screen size, and the curved display offers great resolution and graphics. The screen is very responsive to touch inputs and also offers customisable widgets. My car section on the screen displays a 3D version of the actual car, including the actual colour, and even animates the lamps, hazard lights, doors, and moving wheels. The screen also replaces physical buttons, and most controls are now touch-operated. The gear selector, however, remains but is now a compact toggle-like switch, which may not appeal to those who prefer a proper lever-style selector.

The seats up front continue to offer great support and are ideal even for long drives. The rear seats, on the other hand, has soft headrest pillows and plenty of legroom, making it ideal for chauffeur driving (something one would never expect from a 3 Series a few years ago).

The Gran Limousine continues to be offered with either a petrol or diesel unit, the car you see here is the latter, and it’s almost as refined and a lot torquier than its petrol counterpart. The 2.0-litre engine offers 190 PS and 400 Nm, making it an effortless cruiser. The car picked up speed effortlessly, and the smooth power delivery and low NVH make it one of the best diesel engines in the segment. Step on it and the car is capable of hitting 100kmph in a claimed 7.6 seconds. This is a powerful motor, and what makes it even more special is that the ARAI claimed fuel efficiency figure is an equally impressive 19.6kmpl. The chassis is still very capable, the additional 110mm may liberate a lot more space for the rear passengers but it hardly makes a difference over the short wheelbase 3 when it comes to dynamics. The car is very much driverfocused and offers a great combination between ride and handling. The suspension is set up to tackle broken roads and potholes by offering a softer setting than the 3 Series the world is used to. This does create slightly more body roll but it’s never a concern as the car sticks to the line and goes where you point it at. The Gran Limousine offers the best of both dynamic worlds.

The 3 Series Gran Limousine replaces the regular wheelbase model today and is priced close to its rivals at Rs 59.50 lakh, ex-showroom, India. It may seem more appealing as a chauffeur-driven car on paper, but the fact is that the car is still one of the most capable handlers in its segment and continues to impress the enthusiast in us, especially when compared to its closest German rivals. The facelift has made it a lot more sport-oriented, but it’s a winwin for a lot of users as it offers a combination of sporty styling, comfort, handling, and space in one single package. These attributes make it a serious all-rounder and has what it takes to become a successful model for BMW in India.


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