If you want a car that you can spin on a racetrack on a Sunday and take it to office the next day, you are limited with options especially if you don’t want to burn a very deep hole in your pocket. We had the legendary Octavia vRS which was limited to just 250 units. We have the Polo GTI but it suffers from being highly impractical in its 2 door avatar.
The Indian automotive industry is more dynamic than ever. Every manufacturer is coming up with a facelift of their cars and BMW did not want to be left behind in the race. For that, BMW just brought in the all new 7th gen 3 series to our shores.
The first 3 series was born in 1975. So technically, Its way older than me. Since then the car has been a sensation worldwide for its ultimate driving pleasure and BMW sold over 50 million units of it worldwide. It’s impressive to see how the 3 series has grown over time while still maintaining its driving dynamics.
Also, 1 out of every 3 cars sold worldwide happens to be the 3 series. What makes people fall for this car?
A big thank you to Deutsche Motoren, Bangalore for review car.
Before we get into the car let’s find out how this 3 series is different from the previous one.
It’s 76mm longer, 16mm wider, taller by a millimetre and lighter by 55 kgs. There are lot of aluminium bits in doors and bonnet It has plethora of changes to it. Some cosmetic while some are injected in its racing DNA. The new 3 series is based on a completely new platform called the CLAR, the cluster architecture which is shared with the 5 series and 7 series.
The test car that we see here is not just the vanilla 3 series, it is the M sport trim of it. Which means this car screams sportiness everywhere possible.
The front looks very aggressive, especially with the M sport package the car looks meatier than ever before.
The headlamps are laser lights, the blue strip running inside helps you in identifying them.
The fog lamps are LED’s which is not surprising at this price point.
The grille is finished in black surrounded by the contrasting chrome.
The best part about the kidney grille is the flaps open up to breathe in fresh air when they need, just like your lungs.
However, the flaps close when they do not intake any air in order to provide better aerodynamics and lesser drag.
The striking bumper does a perfect job in distinguishing the M sport from the rest of the breed.
Open the hood and the Twin-turbo engine brings a wide grin on your face. The engine pumps out a massive 258 bhp of power and 400 nm of torque which is more than enough to satisfy your vitamin drive or pump in some some adrenaline rush when you take it to the Madras Motor Race Track or the iconic Buddh international circuit. If you take her, make sure you rev all the way till 7000 rpm! Not a cuppa of every car.
Moving to the side, the first thing that strikes are those magnificent alloy wheels. The rubber is nicely wrapped with short sidewalls and wider profile to give you that racing inspired confidence on the corners.
However the biggest turn off this side is that a car costing half a crore misses out on passive keyless entry.
I wish BMW could do something about this because cars costing half of this get one.
You cannot ignore the fact that the rear of the car has undergone a massive makeover. Probably, the design team at Germany spent half of their bandwidth in this part of the car. Some might go overboard and mistake it for a Lexus. The LED tail lamp add to the final touch of elegance. Nostalgia hits you hard when you spot the shark-fin antenna.
The chrome tipped dual exhausts are here to remind you that you have bought a M sport trim, in case you forgot.
Open the boot with the electric release and you are greeted by a massive 480 litres of boot space, on papers at least because the space saver spoils the party for you by eating up a lot of space which leaves you with just enough space to stuff in a big suitcase and a duffle bag.
The build quality of the 3 series feels very sturdy. BMW has used aluminium components for the doors and bonnet to achieve the – 55 kgs weight figures but that does not make it feel any less solid.
So, does the BMW 3 series stick to its legacy by being the best-in-class sedan to drive? Let’s find out.
Wow! Looks like I got into the right place. That was an easy entry, thanks to the doors that open wide enough.
There is an ambient strip of light running across here. don’t get me wrong, fortunately, its not as bling as the club lights of Kia Seltos. The door handles have buttons for memory seats. Incase you aren’t aware of it memory seats help you come back to your desired seating position. The electronically adjusting front seats get adjustable side bolt rings to keep your body hugged to them when you are cornering on the racetrack.
It’s time for me to buckle up and unleash the power behind that twin turbo powerhouse. The seat belts are here to remind you that you have treated yourself with an M sport edition, in case you forgot.
The steering offers excellent grip with dedicated thumb contours and the BMW logo is proudly placed in the centre, The volume control stacks feel very premium as expected. Once your eyes are set on the instrument cluster, you would be disappointed for 2 reasons. One being that the good-old iconic analog speedometer is replaced with the one from the spaceship of interstellar. The other being the complicated tachometer which takes a toll on the ergonomic design and takes some time to get used to. I did not like it in the Hector, I dont like it here, either. The A/C vents are surrounded with chrome to give the extra premium factor in case driving a BMW wasn’t enough. You also get the headlamp leveller here.
The centre console is however old school. Its the most simplest design you would ever see in a BMW. Not only because of the way it looks, its because of the way it functions.
For example the temperature control is done by rather old styled buttons when most of the car makers are moving to a touchscreen panel. Also I seriously feel BMW should have provided the heads-up display, at-least for the M sport. This would have made a whole world of difference when you are on the racetrack. Also the first thing that I would do if I buy the 330i is that I would replace this silver texture with a carbon fibre, because this seriously feels out of place on a luxury sedan like this. The glove box is big but not deep enough. There are 2 cupholders and a 12v charging socket too. The gear lever looks extremely stylish.
The most fascinating feature of the 3 series is the park assist. It is not just a normal park assist that you would see in most of the cars which would help you in assisting in tight parking spaces. But what makes this different? Check this out.
Also the start stop function of this car is more intelligent than I have ever seen. Traffic and real stop defferentiation.
Also Voice commands are here to help you out with functionalities like the AC control. Activation word. AC, Tired
The infotainment system seems to be the most busiest person in the car.
Park assist feature explain
The rear doors are solid and open wide enough to make the entry and exit seemingly less painful.
Moving to the rear of the car, you will be happy with the legroom on offer Thanks to the longer wheelbase in the 7th gen and scooped out front pockets. In fact the wheelbase of the 7th gen 3 series is longer than the previous gen and this is very evident here. The seats are very supportive too, although I wish they could recline more. You also get the centre arm rest and some storage space for your cappuccino. But don’t bother much about the rear because this is definitely not going to be your favourite seat in the the 3 series, at least in the 330i.
You also get the AC vents and 12 v charging socket.
The electric sunroof is slightly bigger than a normal sunroof but a panoramic sunroof is sorely missed Which has become more of a norm these days in cars costing this.
Push this button and the car screams to life. The 330i is powered by a twin-turbo petrol which churns out 258 bhp @ 5000 rpm and 4000 nm torque at 1550 rpm all the way upto 4400 rpm, which sprints to 100 in 5.8 seconds and guess what? Its a rear wheel drive! This sounds like a driver’s delight.
The car is mated to a 8 speed ZF automatic gearbox which does the job perfectly right. There is absolutely no lag whatsoever. The gearshifts are excellent, there is not even one instance where I feel the car is in a gear lesser or more than what is required.
There is also an option of the manual mode the best part is its not a pseudo manual mode where the car will automatically shift after a certain rpm, the gearbox will never upshift until you decide to do so. Not to forget, the 330i comes with paddle shifters too. The refinement levels are as premium as you would expect in a car of this price bracket. The engine is very silent ticking all the right boxes for a luxury sedan. BMW has used a lot of damping material to keep the noise insulation very good. But, wait, did I just say I am driving a M Sport? So where is all the vocal drama that we expect from it?
Let’s switch to the Sport mode.
Wow!! This is absolutely phenomenal. I love the way this car just sprints on the tap of the accelerator. Although I miss the pure hydraulic steering, the electric power steering does the job perfectly well. Its light at parking speeds and weighs up steadily as we gain triple digit speeds. Its very very sharp. Finally, I am delighted driving a car that actually connects with me. A little movement in the steering wheel actually turns the car. There are 3 driving modes to choose from, The Eco pro, comfort and Sport mode. The engine, gearbox and steering are altered in each of these modes.
The car rides on 18 inch Michelin tyres, surprisingly, they do a better than expected job of manoeuvring through the potholes. BMW has decided to omit the adaptive dampers for India, for the good. Because, the adaptive dampers are not exactly suited for the Indian roads. The chassis is now stiffer and this makes the handling just perfect. Its as precise as you would want the 3 series to be. The COD is reduced to 0.23 from 0.26 in the previous gen making it the most aerodynamic 3 series ever. The top speed is electronically limited to 250 kmph. This makes it one of the best cars to burn the rubber on a racetrack. However, if you are more interested in burning less fuel than burning more rubber, the claimed fuel efficiency of the car is 16.4 kmpl. Of course, there is noway you would achieve it in normal driving conditions.
Power and torque consumption. The car feels great in the lower range, however the party starts once you move to the mid-range, there is enough and more torque for you and your neighbouring car too.
The car redlines at 7000 rpm. Did you just hear that? Its 7000 rpm! And that’s what differentiates the 330i from rest of the breed.
So, is it the best 3 series BMW has ever produced?
Undoubtedly, yes! Not only it’s bigger than the previous gen in every dimension, but the driving dynamics make a whole world of difference. To go back to where we started from, if you are looking for a car that you can spin on a racetrack on a weekend and take it back to office the next day, looks no further than the BMW 3 series, more so the 330i. However there are some shortcomings like the absence of passive key less entry and the cabin could have slightly been a better place to live in. All that vanishes off your mind when you slot into the sport mode and rev this icon all the way to 7000 rpm!