2023 BMW 3 Series Gran Limousine Review: Living The Gran Life

The 2023 BMW 3 Series Gran Limousine comes with exterior changes and a major interior revamp, while the powertrain options are continued from the earlier model.
9 mins read
10-Jan-23 09:00 PM IST
  • 2023 BMW 330Li driven in India!
  • 2023 BMW 3 Series features major visual and equipment upgrade.
  • Rivals: Mercedes-Benz C-Class and Audi A4 in India.

Over the years, we’ve seen numerous cars setting benchmarks in their respective segment, with one name always making the loudest noise. It's a similar story in the entry-level sports sedan segment, which the BMW 3 Series has dominated since its introduction a few years ago. It's the ideal driver's car, as seen in our comparison with the Mercedes-Benz C-Class, Volvo S60, and even the Audi A4. The 2023 3 Series Gran Limousine is now updated with exterior changes and a major interior revamp, while the powertrain options are the only constant. We take the car out for a quick spin to check out all the changes. 



With the 2023 model, BMW has left no stone unturned in improving various elements of the car that needed a much-required revamp. Let’s start with the exterior design of the car. In India, we get the long-wheelbase version of the mid-sized sedan called the Gran Limousine, which translates to more space on the inside, and the design also reflects that. However, the changes over the 2021 model are very subtle and it’ll take a keen eye to spot the difference between the two. Take the front section, for example, BMW has subtly made changes to the twin circular headlamps making it slimmer, and shorter than before and flatter at the bottom which is now redesigned as well. 

While it maintains the bold look from earlier, it looks, even more, meaner now, and we like it. It retains its modern appeal that has found so many takers across the world. You will also be pleased to know that the signature BMW grille is not obnoxiously large but in fact, looks quite refreshing in flesh. It looks powerful, and even sophisticated now with the slightly tweaked front bumpers with a gloss black finish to denote the M-Sport package that this version comes with. 

Short overhangs, a long bonnet, horizontal lines, and flared rear wheel arches add to the superior dimension of the car while maintaining the sporty intent of the car. I particularly love the standard 18-inch double-spoke 225/45 tyres at the front and 255/40 at the rear, with a high-gloss finish that goes well with the car’s sporty appeal. 


Tech & Interior 

I wasn’t the biggest fan of the previous 3’s cabin and felt it was outdated compared to its rivals with a much cleaner look and of course, better-looking display screens. BMW has rectified it to a large extent now with the 2023 model as it now has a new centrepiece, at par with its larger siblings, particularly the new 7 Series and even the flagship electric SUV. The 2023 BWM 3 Series Gran Limousine now features the larger, fully digital BMW curved display with a 12.3-inch instrument panel and an even larger 14.9-inch touchscreen at the centre of the cabin. This single unit covers two-thirds of the dash but adds a refined touch to the cabin while remaining minimalist to its core with a redesigned centre console. Out goes the gear selector and in comes, a new smaller toggle switch freeing up ample space to give a clean look. Sitting beside it is the new iDrive controller has additional touch-controlled buttons.

The large unit is now compatible with iDrive 8.0, the latest version of BMW’s system is now largely regarded as one of the better ones on the market. The software is attractive and logical, and the current control knob and its accompanying buttons are a decent redundancy for touchscreen controls. Both screens are also very sharp, high-res, and bright enough to see clearly in direct sunlight. 

Apart from the new unit, little has changed inside the car. The sedan still comes with a 480-litre boot and an electric tailgate that opens and closes with a flick of the feet. Fold the back seats down, and you get a useful 1,500-litre more to play with. Cabin space remains unaltered with ample space for only four adults as the middle seat needs to be reserved exclusively for children since the transmission tunnel hampers space. There’s more than decent headroom and more than ample knee room even the front seats backed up to the max. 

BMW has also improved the padding foam on the seats dressed in Vernasca leather upholstery making an elegant statement as well as that of comfort, especially on longer journeys. There are AC vents and controls along with two Type C charging slots. Add the M-Package into the mix and things get interesting with M-specific seats for the front & rear passengers. The driver and co-passenger can electronically adjust the seats and even save up to 3 different positions for future reference. Wired and wireless compatibility for Apple CarPlay & Android Auto, a wireless charger, Harmon/Kardon music system, and a panoramic sunroof make things equally special for the passengers inside. 


Engine & Transmission

And that’s where the changes to the 2023 BMW 3 Series Gran Limousine ends because the engine & transmission options are retained from the 2021 model. The car still comes in both petrol and diesel fuel options- the 330Li, and the 320Ld. While the former comes equipped with a 2.0-litre, four-cylinder, BMW TwinPower turbo petrol unit capable of developing 254 bhp @5,000 rpm and 400 Nm of peak torque @1,550- 4,400 rpm, the diesel unit packs in a 2.0-litre, four-cylinder BMW TwinPower turbo producing 187 bhp @4,000 rpm and 400 Nm @1,750- 2,500 rpm. As a matter of fact, the BMW 3 Series Gran Limousine is one of the quickest in the segment with the ability to go from 0-100 kmph in 6.2 seconds, while the diesel unit is the slower one as it does the same run in about 7.6 seconds. Both versions are poles apart in performance but what binds them together is the 8-speed Steptronic automatic transmission that is such a mind-reader when it comes to shifts. Paddle shifters are also a standard fitment. 

We drove the 330Li M Sport clothed in a Potamaic Blue paint scheme. This unit is as responsive at low speeds as it is at higher speeds, striking a delicate balance between performance and fuel efficiency thanks to the stop/start functionality that’s helpful in heavy traffic conditions. 


Ride & Handling

And since the engine is unchanged, the driving mannerism of the car also remains largely similar. It's still quick on acceleration, and authoritative. I'm in love with the performance of the car, and at no moment does it feel underpowered, nor is there any compromise with the refinement level. The sports mode and paddle shifters alter the car's genes completely and make it even more enjoyable with optimised acceleration off the mark that unlocks ultra-quick bursts of mid-range power. Like I said earlier, the gearbox is a mind-reader and manages to control extremely rapid shifts quite comfortably and smoothly. 

The 50:50 weight distribution is effective at corners, and never does it feel that the car won’t manage to pull through even if you are attempting it over high speeds. The steering is precise, the body control is excellent, and the grip is plentiful, which makes the 3 Series great fun to throw around. The car comes into life post the 2,000 rpm and maintains the same vigour till you red-line it. 

The exhaust sound produced at triple digits makes the drive even more fun and enjoyable, as the M Sport brakes work like clockwork. With the stiffer suspension, the car remains planted on uneven roads without breaking a sweat. It even takes care of larger potholes than we are used to now. However, it does require improvement in one department, the tyres. We feel that the car strikes an awkward balance on longer journeys and a better set would’ve gone a long way in improving that experience. It's no Rolls-Royce, but it’s up there with other segment leaders. 


Safety Features

Till now, I believe it is well established that this 3 Series is the most advanced it’s ever been. I say that with conviction because the 3 Series Gran Limousine is loaded with heaps of safety equipment to keep the occupants safe. Alongside the usual array of 6-airbags and emergency braking systems, the 330Li M Sport also comes with front and rear parking sensors as standard, as well as cruise control, auto hold, attentive monitor, electrical parking brakes as well as three-point seat belts for all passengers at the back. Acoustic warnings whenever anything pops too close to the car make it less irritant. I believe even the Cornering Brake Control should be considered a safety element on the car as it does help at crucial moments. 



So the bottom line is that the BMW 3 Series Gran Limousine is still one of the most practical cars in the segment. At Rs. 57.90 lakh and Rs. 59.50 lakh for the petrol and diesel versions respectively, 2023 3 Series GL is now available only in its long wheelbase and M Sport version, taking the standard version off the shelf, while the more potent M340i is also now on offer. Its closest rival is the Mercedes-Benz C-Class offered in both petrol and diesel options priced between Rs. 57.20 lakh to Rs. 63 lakh for the diesel version, making it one of the most expensive in the segment. 

 2023 BMW 3 Series Gran LimousineMercedes-Benz C-ClassAudi A4
PetrolRs. 57.90 lakhRs. 57.20 lakh Rs. 43.12- Rs. 50.99 lakh
DieselRs. 59.50 lakhRs. Rs. 58.20 lakh- Rs. 63 lakhNA

The other affordable rival includes the Audi A4 priced between Rs. 43.12 lakh to Rs. 50.99 lakh (ex-showroom, India), while the Volvo S60 is no longer listed on the company’s India website. So, even at this price point, the 2023 BMW 3 Series still seems a sensible purchase given its practicality for daily usage as well as out-and-out performance that is enough to pulsate the driver within you. If you want my two cents, check out the updated M340i for an even more thrilling experience behind the wheel without spending the big bucks for a BMW M3. 

Photography by: Apoorv Choudhary

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