The name BMW is always synonymous with performance sedans however then comes the bone shattering ride that some of the earlier 3 series were known for. Now, the Blue and White propeller badge always makes heads turn wherever it goes but then few would command attention as the BMW 7 series. But then since a BMW 7 series wasn’t available for a test, we had to make do with the BMW 3 series in India. The BMW 3 series is for those looking for an entry into the world of BMW. Oh, I forgot that the new entry point now for BMW is the BMW X1 and not the BMW 3 series. Nevertheless, the erstwhile entry point into the BMW world, the BMW 3 series still is a fascination for many. So all geared up for a review of the Bimmer from Bavaria. We got a variety of 3 series, both petrol and diesel variants on board and the review is as recounted as below.
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The Chris Bangle elements have disappeared in the 2010 BMW 3 series in India and have been replaced with much straighter lines. The BMW logo as always is located on the bonnet. The kidney grille which is the talking or rather the distinguishing factor for any BMW car is outlined by chrome. The half open eye lids speak of HID lamps which have an even spread of light. There is a small AUDI like goatee grille which sits below those twin kidneys. The fog lamps are dumped in the air dam. It was a unanimous decision across our board of reviewers that no one would call the BMW 3 series in India, the best looking car. I personally feel that it is more of an ugly duckling amongst the grace of Audis, Mercedes and also Jaguars.
The tyre size of these cars depend on the variant chosen and also the engine option selected. For example, the BMW 320i, which is the base petrol version, gets 16 inch alloys. The BMW 330i which is the top of the line petrol, gets 17 inch alloy wheels whereas the diesel variant gets 16 inch star spoke alloy wheels. Just by looking at the wheels, the eagle eyed would be able to tell if the said version in front of them is a petrol or diesel variant. Needless to say, all the tyres are run flats.
The rear features octagonal tail lamps. There are no other design element to speak of in the rear. The inverted tail pipe applies for the diesel variant whereas for the petrol ones, those are arrow straight.
The part where most of the owners would be spending times in, the interiors also speak of German precision. The interiors are typically two tone BMW interiors with that 3 spoke steering wheel with audio, Bluetooth and cruise controls mounted on it. The instrument panel may seem lackluster for a BMW but then they are the same across the range of BMW vehicles on offer in India. To truly admire its beauty, you have to wait till night falls and the lights are turned on. The 6 CD changer system has enough of output to rock the insides of this sturdily built car. The BMW 3 series in India boasts of Dakota leather interiors and also rear AC vents for the rear passengers. The latest Idrive system is also available for those technically challenged personalities. It has been made a lot simple now and doesn’t look as a challenge for those less uninitiated.
Now, the seats look comfortable but then once you plonk yourself into them, you realize that the front seats are tuned more to be sporty. In keeping with the same theme, one realizes that once you are seated there, you would find reasons to be seated inside. It is way too comfortable and at the same time exuding a sporty touch. There is auto climate control, dim lights as well as rain sensing wipers, 6 way adjustable driver’s seat with memory functions, central locking and also electric sun blinds for rear windows. Space at the rear is a bit less than what one would expect but then it is suitable for most frames except for those to the north side of 6 feet. Sitting three along is also a problem since the width of this car isn’t that much as compared to its competition. Boot space is at par with competition though, where the Jaguar may be a bit lacking in this department.
Handling and ride quality
The best part and the only reason one would look at buying a BMW is for the love of driving. If you love to drive, you would look no further than a BMW, be it any series or model. The BMW 3 series in India boasts of been the lightest and most thrilling to drive of all the BMWs available in India. The front suspension boasts of Double joint spring-strut axle with McPherson struts whereas the rear boasts of five link multi suspension. As expected it has been tuned more for handling rather than ride quality.
The chassis is endowed with Dynamic Stability Control system which plays a pivotal role in controlling the body roll while the car is going around a corner. Try and try more to upset this car and it still begs for more. Throwing it around a corner at high speeds comes naturally to BMW 3 series owners. The steering though a tad heavy at parking speeds lightens up a bit while on the highway. It is by far the best steering wheel amongst the Germans and even Jaguar included. None of the companies have been able to crack the code as to what exactly BMW dial in their steering wheel to make it so communicative.
I expected the ride quality to be in shambles due to the stiff springs however I was wrong, though not entirely. The ride quality isn’t that good as say, a Mercedes C-class but then it is at par with the Audi A4. At low speeds, typical of German saloons, there is some bumpiness whereas once the speeds rise, the harshness vanishes and the car is in an element of its own.
Engine, performance and fuel efficiency
It is a well known fact that BMW makes some of the best engines in the world. That it has received many awards to its credit for the same is testimony enough. There are two petrol engines and one diesel.
The 320i, the base petrol, boasts of 1995 cc engine with 157 PS @ 6400 rpm and 200 Nm of torque at 3600 rpm. The 330i get a 2497 cc engine with 215 PS of peak power @6500rpm whereas the torque is 246 Nm @4000rpm. The lone diesel motor has a capacity of 1995 cc which produces 170 Ps of peak power @ 4000 rpm and a huge 340 Nm of torque at as low as 1750 rpm. All the 3 engines are mated with 6 speed auto transmissions with paddle shifters. All these engines are equally good in their own right however the base 320i seems a bit out of place since one has to constantly use the gearbox to extract maximum performance out of it.
The diesel motor especially deserves mention since it is a jewel. It has got terrific response and also lower NVH than most of the other cars in its category. However give it the beans and you would realize that this is a free revving diesel. To put figures on paper, the BMW 320i races from 0-100 kmph in only 9.6 seconds and attain a top speed of 215 kmph. The BMW 330i goes from 0-100 kmph in a good 8.4 seconds and maxes out at 235 kmph. The diesel motored BMW 320d moves from 0-100 kmph in 9.1 seconds and has a top speed of 214 kmph.
Braking on all three variants is via disc brakes on all four wheels assisted by Cornering Brake Control (CBC), ABS, Dynamic Traction Control (DTC) and also Dynamic Stability Control. For safety, BMW has kitted the cars with tyre pressure monitor, run flat tyres which can go for around 250 kms on a flat tyre, aluminum impact absorbers for the front and rear bumper to have better pedestrian safety, seat belt force limiter, seat belts with pretensioners, 4 air bags and crumple zones.
Fuel efficiency is also good for this class of vehicles. The base petrol engine returns 8.3 kmpl in city and on the highway, this figure rises to 12.8 kmpl. For the higher specced petrol, the figures read as 6.6 kmpl in city and 10.4 kmpl on the highway. The diesel is a frugal sipper with figures of 9.2 kmpl in city and 14.6 kmpl on the highway.
BMW 3 series Photo Gallery
We at Indiandrives had a hoot driving the BMW babies around for a full day. The diesel motor was the one which was preferred by one and all whereas the base petrol was for those yearning to drive a BMW. The BMW 3 series in India makes for lots of fun out of a saloon car. It has got the perfect handling, interior quality, nice engine options and on top of it, the BMW badge. There are total of 4 variants of the BMW 3 series in India. Those are the BMW 3 Series 320i, BMW 3 Series 330i, BMW 3 Series 320d Corporate Edition and the BMW 3 Series 320d Highline. The BMW 3 series price in India varies from model to model. The BMW 3 Series 320d Corporate Edition is the cheapest one at Rs 24,34,000. Next in line is the BMW 3 Series 320i at Rs 27,80,000. The higher specced BMW 3 Series 320d Highline goes for Rs 31,50,000 and the top of the line BMW 3 Series 330i is available for Rs 33,95,000. All these prices are ex-show room, Mumbai.