Why do I like it?
- Additional rear space
- Frugal engine
Why I would avoid it
- No adjustment for the front passenger seat from the rear
- Tight space for the second-row middle seat
So, we've driven the car, checked out all its features, and of course, enjoyed the extra legroom at the rear. Is it the only BMW 3 Series that you need to buy? We certainly think so, it's fun to drive, comfortable, and now the car with the largest rear space in its class adding quite a bit of value to the 3 Series range.
Engine and Performance
The car that we are driving is powered by a 2.0-litre twin-turbo diesel producing 190bhp and 400Nm of torque with power going to the rear wheels via an eight-speed automatic. This new-gen 3 Series is underpinned by BMW’s CLAR platform making it lighter yet stronger, and more rigid than the previous generation car. The engine is a legend in BMW’s stable powering a whole host of vehicles for ages across generations of cars.
Step on the gas and go past the 2,000rpm mark, the turbo spools up giving you a nice powerful punch as you gain speed. BMW claims a 0-100kmph time of 7.6 seconds which is quite impressive considering the size of the car and the engine. Staying there is not too difficult either as you have ample punch to keep your pace constant.
And when it comes to the daily commute, the 3 Series delivers equally smoothly. The eight-speed gearbox does its thing silently in the background and apart from some of the diesel clatter, you don't hear much of anything. Switching the drive selector to eco-pro mode will give you a muted response from the engine as well as some extra re-gen to charge up the batteries. Those choosing to be driven around will be quite comfortable at the back with little fuss or drama from the engine, even when the driver makes quick overtakes in traffic.
Ride and Handling
BMWs are all about having an involved driving experience, which this 3 Series has an endless supply of. For a novice like me, it takes the corners almost flat and would need a much braver man to poke it hard and make it go sideways. In this respect, it weighs up beautifully depending on your input and in no time will egg you on to push the car harder through the turns. The added length has not affected the handling in any way and the 3 series is still an impressive car to drive.
Additionally, BMW has added 3 driving modes – Sport, Comfort, and Eco-pro, each of which adjusts the aggressiveness of the steering and throttle response. A nice little touch is that the instrument cluster turns an aggressive red when you go into Sport mode. What's more, you can configure the touchscreen system to show stats like the G-Forces you achieved as well as how much torque and power you are using at every step.
The ride quality is impressive with BMW managing to find a good balance between ride and handling. It's on the firm side but manages to smoothen out everything in its path sans any major drama. A part of this comfortable ride is also down to the smaller wheels and chunky tyres. Ground clearance, which is normally an issue for such cars, is quite good and will clear most speed breakers and potholes without the need for any weaving around. But given the odd conditions of our roads, it's still a good idea to be on the side of caution.
Interior Space and Quality
The USP of this car is the extended length; let us begin at the rear seats. Step in and you instantly notice the extra legroom which is quite a lot, thanks to the 110mm extended wheelbase. It’s not like the standard wheelbase 3 Series is exactly short on length but this addition of space does wonders in adding a feeling of spaciousness while being seated here. What’s more, even the middle seat occupant will have no shortage of leg space but will have to contend with the high transmission tunnel and central vents. This extended length also means ingress and egress is an easier task. This should be a good selling point for those who want a car that will allow them to be chauffeured in comfort but be equally involved when they are in the mood to get behind the wheel.
Extended length apart, the rear seats in this 320Ld luxury line car that we are reviewing also get rear AC vents with its climate zone, USB type-C charging point, centre armrest storage, and fold-out cup holders that can be accessed by pressing down here. However, we would have liked it if BMW had added in sun blinds and the ability to move front passenger seat from the rear as standard fitment for this long-wheelbase 3 Series.
While this car’s main USP is the large rear space, it’s a BMW 3 Series and that means the front seats are still the stars of the show. Get in and you are transported into a luxurious space lined with leather, high-quality plastics, and two large screens. Everything feels nice and falls easily to hand. We are glad that BMW still offers a plethora of physical buttons for all the functions which could have easily become one too many but they are all well laid out and it won’t take much time to develop muscle memory for all the functions.
The buttons all work for this- the 10.25-inch display running BMW’s live cockpit professional with in-built navigation, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, as well as screen sharing. You also get access to BMW’s inbuilt apps which can be downloaded from respective online stores. Oh also, if you want to go direct, then this screen is also a touch unit, something that’s been introduced with this generation of the 3 Series.
The seats themselves are quite comfortable with electric adjustment and memory function for the driver. The visibility all around is surprisingly good thanks to the large glass area and the sight of watching those lines on the hood lead the way is a BMW 3 Series experience in itself.
Features and Safety
This Luxury Line trim that we are reviewing affords you a comprehensive feature list that includes the likes of the ambient lighting, Harman Kardon sound system with sixteen speakers, wireless charging, leather upholstery, a 360-degree camera, three-zone climate control with rear vents, USB type-C charging ports in the front and rear, cup holders, full digital instrument cluster and then some more.
One feature that we found very useful is the auto parking assist which parks the car for you. All you need to do is identify an appropriate spot and work the pedals with the guidance of all the automated systems to have your long-wheelbase 3 Series safely parked away.
The safety net on the 3 Series is quite comprehensive across both trim levels with six airbags, ABS with brake assist, cornering brake control, traction control, and tyre pressure monitoring system as a part of the package.
In a world where SUVs have begun to rule the roost, cars like the BMW 3 Series have an appeal that’s unmatched when it comes to the joy of getting behind the wheel. Now, in addition to that, you also get extra space at the back thanks to the additional legroom expanding the appeal of the car to a buyer base that prefers to be chauffeured around. It lacks certain features in the rear like buttons to control the passenger seat from the rear, sun blinds, or even a footrest for the left side passenger, but these aren’t deal-breakers in what is otherwise a good package.
BMW is expected to price this long-wheelbase 3 Series in the range of Rs 44 lakh to Rs 49 lakh. It will rival the likes of the Jaguar XE, Mercedes-Benz C-Class, and the Audi A4 in the Indian market.
Photos: Kapil Angane