‘Limousine’ is now a name that’s slowly getting common on some luxury cars, but with this longer version of the 3-Series, it does actually makes sense getting badged as one. The car has been stretched by 110mm in between the front and rear wheels since the company’s focus with this model is on room at the rear. Also, there are some changes inside the cabin that help you separate it from the regular 3-Series and then its extra cost has to be taken into account as well. We get to drive the petrol 330Li.
In terms of styling, the car looks absolutely the same: sporty and elegant, both. Thank goodness there’s no huge kidney grille design; we, however, fear that this might just be the last of the sleek-looking grilles for the 3-Series. The lines are prominent but remain subtle, not sharp. The headlamps are nice and sleek; so are the tail lights.
A real Limo?
Inside the BMW 3-Series Gran Limousine, you will see dark open-pore wood along with some chrome around. The backs of the front seats feature ambient lighting, and when it comes to the rest of the equipment, BMW Cars have left no stone unturned. You get wireless Android Auto and a Harman/Kardon hi-fi audio system. This is the Luxury Line variant, although you can also have the M Sport body kit that comes with sharper looking front and rear bumpers, 18-inch alloy wheels, paddle-shifters, heads-up display and gesture control. The back seat is the main highlight of course; there’s sufficient space for tall passengers and the panoramic sunroof and seats have been re-designed. You continue to sit low, but thigh support is better, so is the cushioning. The rear doors are now wider, so getting into the new BMW 3-Series Gran Limousine is much easier. There’s also a difference in the suspension; it is now softer and seems to be sitting a little taller on its wheels too, which is likely to help keep the underbelly safe from speed breakers.
A magic carpet?
Ride quality has improved, so the BMW 3-Series Gran Limousine now feels more pliant and it fits the name ‘Limousine’ very aptly. Also, thanks to the 50-profile tyres wrapped around 17-inch wheels, bad roads don’t seem a threat either. However, at highway speeds, the car does get a bit floaty. This 330i isn’t like the 330i (E90); it feels too soft to be driven with zeal and the additional length of the car seems to be at the back of your head around corners. Body roll is evident and it won’t change directions like a regular 3-Series from BMW Cars. The steering continues to be fun to hang on to, meaning some of the handling characteristics do remain.
The 2.0-litre, four-cylinder turbocharged engine is an absolute hoot as it makes 254bhp and 400Nm of torque. The engine delivers strong performance. Mated to the engine is a ZF 8HP torque-converter automatic gearbox that shifts effortlessly and with such performance on offer, you tend to take it all the way to its redline quite often. There are no paddle-shifters to take manual control over, but there is a lever. What comes with the choice of a petrol engine over a diesel is undoubtedly refinement. The engine is quiet and silky smooth. Flooring it will make you hear a snarl from the engine, but it’s rather comforting in this type of car. It’s a 3-Series for those who like being driven around, and if that’s what you’re looking at, the three Gran Limo is all the car you’ll ever need.