What is it?
Why would I buy it?
Explosive straight line performance, Comfortable rear seat
Why would I avoid it?
Soft suspension plays spoilsport at times, Priced too close to the bigger, more advanced 5 Series
The BMW 330i GT has always had two key qualities linked to it – that it’s fast, and that it’s luxurious. Now, BMW has updated the GT range by adding the delicious M Sport trim to the mix. It’s still fast, and luxurious but we are here to find out if it’s any more tempting than the bog-standard 330i GT we drove last year.
This new M Sport version can be had in either Alpine white or Estoril blue and if you ask us, it ought to be the latter shade if you really want your GT to stand out. The classic BMW colour (seen in the E46 M3, F10 M5 and more recently, the M2) looks brilliant in a sea of silver, black and grey coloured luxury cars. As for the design bits exclusive to the M Sport trim, you get sharper looking 18-inch alloys, kidney grille slats finished in gloss black, M badging on the front fenders and M design door sills. Otherwise, the 330i GT M Sport looks the same and retains the frameless windows, the coupe-like stance and the sloping roofline. The rear spoiler, which extends and slides back into the bodywork depending on the speed, could be seen as a bit of a gimmick, but it doesn’t look out of place over the bright shade of blue.
How is it on the inside?
The GT is based on the 3 Series and it’s something that you will realize the moment you step in. The dashboard and the layout of the centre console is straight off the sedan, however, there’s a quality feel to the whole cabin with soft touch plastics for all the touch points. There’s also plenty of brushed silver trim and contrasting inserts that uplift the cabin ambience compared to the typical sea of black.
BMW hasn’t added a whole bunch of extra stuff for the M Sport version but it does get the beautifully made three-spoke M steering wheel and a new headliner. The front seats are different too – they are snug and better suited to spirited driving thanks to the extra side bolstering. Speaking of comfort, the GT’s cabin has an airy feel to it, something that cannot be said for the 3 Series sedan. The augmented sense of space is thanks to the GT's large glasshouse and the panoramic sunroof, plus the fact that there is legitimately plenty of space. It’s at the rear where the GT truly shines – legroom and headroom is exceptional and the backrest is well contoured as well. And because of the longer wheelbase, the 3 GT matches the old 5 Series for legroom and under-thigh support which is impressive.
Being a notchback, the 330i GT M Sport comes with a large boot which can hold 520 litres of gear. If that’s not impressive enough, the rear seats can be folded down to liberate as much as 1600 litres of cargo area, making this BMW immensely practical. In terms of additional equipment, the M Sport gets cruise control with automatic braking and a digital instrument cluster which adjusts according to the driving mode – both these features aren’t available in the Luxury Line trim.
How does it drive?
At the other end of the GT M Sport, under the hood, rests a 1998cc, turbocharged 4-cylinder motor which makes 252bhp at 5,200rpm and more importantly, 350Nm of torque between 1450 and 4800rpm. This engine is mated to ZF’s evergreen eight-speed single clutch gearbox that’s one of the highlights of the whole drivetrain.
While it's no M3, this car is a willing performer and makes for a good tool for ducking in and out of city streets, with hardly any turbo lag noticeable between light to medium throttle inputs. Better still, this four cylinder motor is absolutely refined and up till 5,000rpm and thereabout, devoid of any vibrations whatsoever. It’s only when you floor it that you will find some turbo lag down low, but once above 3,000rpm the acceleration is effortless with a nice mid-range pull that doesn’t leave you wheezing for revs. It came as no surprise when we strapped our timing gear and recorded a 0-100kmph sprint time of 6.31 seconds, hitting 150kmph in an equally impressive 13.18 seconds. In gear, too, the acceleration is strong with 40-100kmph and 20-80kmph coming up in 4.96 and 3.94 seconds respectively.
The ZF eight-speed gearbox deserves all the praise it gets – it is exceptionally smooth and for a single clutch unit, super quick at the same time. Drivability around town is superb since there’s no lurching in stop/start traffic – a big plus for those who tackle rush hour traffic daily. Meanwhile, the driving modes include the usual suite – Eco Pro, Comfort, Sport and Sport+, with each behaving exactly as expected. In Eco Pro, the throttle response is suitably dull and the gearbox, too, upshifts at the earliest. Things get better in Comfort mode which maintains a fine balance between economy and relentless acceleration. The drivetrain is fully charged up in Sport and Sport+, delivering sharp throttle response and slick gearshifts.
With eight gears and a wide power-band, the 330i M Sport is an effortless cruiser. Its long-distance ability is supplemented with a hushed cabin - road noise is kept to a minimum even at highway speeds. More importantly, the low speed ride is surprisingly plush and absorbent despite the lack of adaptive dampers. Having said that, the unusually soft suspension setup plays spoilsport at high speeds as the car tends to wallow with constant vertical movement. Although it isn’t as precise as the E90 325i or 330i, the M Sport version’s well weighted steering and body control is more than adequate for a luxury barge. The brakes are likewise brilliant and never lose precision, even after repeated high speed stops.
Should I buy one?
The 330i GT is a fine luxury offering, one with notably more road presence and character than a lot of traditional sedans including BMW’s own 3 Series. In essence, it’s a more upmarket version of the 330i with better rear seat comfort and strong performance. However, is it more tempting than the standard 330i GT? In the exclusive Estoril blue, we would say it certainly is. Also, it’s difficult not to miss all the M Sport goodness (Read: sport seats, alloys and the digital cluster) that this car gets over the Luxury Line trim. The only negative in this deal is the comfort-oriented suspension which simply doesn’t do justice to that M badge on the fender.
Where does it fit in?
The 3 Series GT range starts off at Rs 47.80 lakhs (ex-showroom, Mumbai) for the 320d Luxury Line, however, the 330i M Sport is priced at Rs 49.40 lakhs. The latter is actually priced quite close to the all-new 5 Series, with the 530i Sport Line coming in at Rs 52.90 lakhs.