Ever since it became known as the 3 Series, the model has been the benchmark that all sedans have strived to beat. From its base variants to the top-of-the-line M models, the 3 Series has always delivered a satisfying driving experience. But what if you were more concerned about the rear seats? Well, the new 3 Series Gran Limousine might just be the car for you.
What Is It?
You take a standard BMW 3 Series and you add 110mm to the wheelbase, mostly between the front and rear seats and this is what you get. Well, what about the 3 GT, you ask? Unfortunately, this replaces the 3 GT in the BMW line-up. No more awkwardly proportioned 3 Series hatchback for you. The 3 Series Gran Limousine is available in three variants at the moment. The 330Li petrol version is available in a Luxury Line trim as well as an exclusive M Sport First Edition trim while the 320Ld is only available in Luxury Line trim.
How Comfortable Is It?
The entirety of the 110mm increase in wheelbase is found in the rear passenger compartment, where you’re treated to some exceptional legroom. In addition to that, the seats have also been redesigned with more padding and have been upholstered in supple Vernasca leather. While the seatback angle is not adjustable, it’s positioned well to give you a relaxing experience. The panoramic sunroof lets you bring more light into the interior if you wish, but unfortunately, there aren’t any sunblinds on the windows, should you want to block the sunlight instead. For a car that places an emphasis on the rear-seat experience, this is a pretty significant omission.
The central tunnel also intrudes into cabin space, just like in the regular 3 Series, but as long as there are only two people in the rear bench, it shouldn’t be a problem.
Is It Still Fun To Drive?
In a word, yes. The longer wheelbase does take some of the edge off the 3 Series’ dynamic abilities, but you’re still left with an extremely capable sedan. The steering wheel feels as alive as ever in your hands and offers enough feedback to be entertaining. Take a corner too aggressively and the rear-end still threatens to step out of line, if you turn off dynamic stability control, that is.
The 2.0-litre, four-cylinder diesel engine makes a healthy 187 bhp and 42.3 kg-m of torque, all of which is sent to the rear wheels through an 8-speed automatic transmission. The engine tends to get a little noisy when pushed, but it makes up for it with thrust from low down in the rev range. If you’re looking for more outright speed however, 330Li might be the one for you.
Why Should I Buy One?
First and foremost, it’s a 3 Series, which happens to be one of the best sports sedans on the market. More importantly, it’s a 3 Series you can occasionally give up the reins on and relax in the back. It’s a more usable car and that alone makes it worth buying. When prices for the 3 Series Gran Limousine are revealed later this month however, we’ll know just how much of a bargain you’ll get.