2021 BMW 330Li Gran Limousine road test review
Quite suddenly, the BMW 3 Series isn't just that one package that offers a sublime mix of luxury and driver involvement. There's now an M340i for those who like a thrill-a-minute from their drive and an India-specific RHD 3 Series Gran Limousine which aims to please with its more lavish rear seat experience. But this expansion of the brand isn't surprising. Luxury carmakers in our country seem to be on a mission to ensure there's something for every type of owner in their range, the eventual aim is to bring in new buyers and grow the market.
BMW 330Li Gran Limousine engine, gearbox, efficiency, acceleration
Filling one such niche is the BMW 330Li Gran Limousine, the petrol-powered iteration of this long-wheelbase 3 Series. The 2.0-litre twin-scroll turbo-petrol here comes in the same tune as in the regular wheelbase 3 Series and is similarly impressive. The motor is, for all purposes, silent in the kind of use it'll be put through in chauffeuring you around, torque being the same 400 Nm as the diesel but spread over a much wider band(1,550 to 4,400 rpm versus 1,750 to 2,500 rpm in the diesel). Combined with the much higher 258PS output(the diesel makes 190PS), this petrol 330Li makes its way around our roads fully in-sync with its 'Limousine' tag.
The engine seems always alert to throttle inputs and as our in-gear acceleration figures suggest, passing traffic at any speed is only a nudge of the pedal away. On a steady cruise, the engine usually stays well below 2,000 rpm, so even intercity trips will be a serene experience.
As with most BMWs, the 8-speed ZF torque converter plays a big role in making the 330Li feel this way. It is tuned to the same ratios as in the diesel Gran Limousine and left to its devices, it'll pick the right gear in most situations and keep the motor ticking over with a full load of power and torque at your disposal. The shifts themselves are largely imperceptible at lower revs which adds to the sense of seamlessness. As a bonus, this petrol motor isn't quite the drinker you would take it to be. Even with us not trying to exploit the aggressive coasting function in the Eco Pro mode, the 330Li returned 9.96 kmpl in the city and 13.78 kmpl on the highway in our fuel efficiency runs.
This still is a 3 Series though, so when on occasion you do decide to take the wheel, the Sport mode livens things up quite a bit. The gearbox effectively locks out the 8th ratio here, shifts quicker and holds revs past 6,500 rpm. Combined with the sharper throttle responses, sometimes maybe a bit too sharp, and purrs from the engine there are some thrills to be had. The steering also plays ball here, adding more heft to its already quite accurate feel. It's also much quicker than its polished exterior lets on, BMW claims a 0 to 100 kmph time in 6.2s. Quite a conservative claim we think, given we managed to match this figure without much effort. But, understandably, what isn't there is that balance between control and comfort that the regular 3 Series manages so well. The Gran Limousine's focus is firmly on those in the back.
BMW 330Li Gran Limousine ride, handling, rear-seat comfort
This means that it handles our obstacle-laden roads with a suppleness that's hard to find in other cars its price. There are only slight body movements to tell you of a bump in your way and a tinge of stiffness over heavily battered surfaces that still has a rounded edge to it. There's more lean around bends as a trade-off to this, but movements here are progressive with the car tipping into its outer wheels quite predictably. Although you can never quite shake off the sheer length of it here, passengers won't really be bothered too much. A bit more disconcerting is the extended body movements over high-speed depressions, the kind quite common on our highways, but slowing down a bit solves that to an extent.
This demeanour ties in very well with the experience in the rear seat. The 110mm increase in wheelbase over the standard 3 has added 43mm to the rear legroom. Even the rear door is 110mm longer, so getting in and finding space for yourself is never going to be a problem. The extended squabs are very supportive, although some taller passengers might find the added thigh bolstering a bit much.
But with the angle of the seatback, the ambient lighting highlights on the front seats and the openness of the space, the sense of luxury here is realized quite effectively. Our only grouse is with the centre seat, the Gran Limousine is best used as a four-seater. The large transmission tunnel is, of course, unavoidable but BMW could have used a softer cushion on the bulged section in the middle. Or it could have made the larger armrest even more intricate, maybe adding some controls for the infotainment would have been a good idea. No window lines for the rear is another miss we think.
BMW 330Li Gran Limousine prices, variants, verdict
The rest of the Luxury Line version here is identical to the diesel Gran Limousine as are the features and interior ambience on offer. Although, BMW will also sell you a petrol 330Li with more features and an edgier look as the M Sport First Edition.
So which BMW Gran Limousine is the one for you? It should probably be this petrol option especially if long outstation trips aren't a common occurrence. The petrol, in this variant, is Rs 2.26 lakh less on-road than the diesel at Rs 61.64 lakh and there are significant savings to be made with the many maintenance packages that BMW offers on both cars as well. So with the refinement and the serene performance this engine affords to the Gran Limousine, with not a very big hit to efficiency, the choice isn't a difficult one to make.
BMW 330Li Gran Limousine real-world mileage and performance
City fuel efficiency - 9.96 kmpl
Highway fuel efficiency - 13.78 kmpl
Overall - 10.91 kmpl
0 to 100 kmph - 6.2s
30-50 kmph - 1.3s
50-70 kmph - 1.5s
60-80 kmph - 1.8s
100 - 0 kmph - 41.4m, 3.2s
Images by tortugadatacorp.com
Or watch our BMW 320Ld Gran Limousine video review below
Starts Rs 41.7 Lakhs
Starts Rs 51.5 Lakhs
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