BMW’s tag line was ‘The Ultimate Driving Machine’, as the brand has always visioned making driver focused machines. The BMWs are more about the joy of driving, apart from the luxury that they offer. The 3 Series is the bread and butter sedan for the Munich-based automaker and it has launched the facelift version of this sedan very recently. We lay our hands on the 3 Series 2016 version and tell you if this is the sedan that you have been waiting to procure.
The BMW 3 Series 320i doesn’t boast extra ordinary differences compare to the 320d. The front fascia gets sharp headlamp clusters sporting BMW Corona rings and integrated LED daytime running lights. The front grille sports the signature BMW kidney pattern with chrome highlights. The lower fascia sports an aggressive design with wide air intake system and sleek chrome strips at both sides. The fog lamps at both ends of the lower fascia gets chrome highlights.
Moving to the side profile the BMW 3 Series 320i comes with side turning indicator integrated wing mirrors, sharp character lines. A sleek and crisp crease runs through the body coloured door handles beginning from just behind the front fenders and ending just before the taillight. The lower side profile also gets thick cuts. The sporty alloy wheels and the nicely curved roofline make the car pretty appealing. The glass area is completely blackened out to bring a sporty feel. The two part taillights adorn LED units which make a flowing effect. The rear bumper gets a sleek chrome lining just above the dual chrome tipped round exhaust vents.
The seats of the 3-Series are quite low slung so once you get a hang of the seating position, there’s a lot to appreciate inside the cabin. The insides haven’t changed much apart from some additions like an HUD display and M-Sport seats but all this is available only on the M-Sport variant and not the other trims. The HUD display works well and displays a lot of info like phone records, tracks, radio stations apart from the speed. The M-Sport seats offer terrific support and feel very comfortable too. There are no carbon fibre trims on this one but BMW does offer them as an option. The quality of the interiors also feels a tad bit better now. Another thing that catches your attention is the new M-Sport steering wheel but more on that later. You also get a sunroof and the usual iDrive infotainment system with an 8.7-inch screen. However, it’s a pity that the 320d misses out on a rearview camera and makes do with just parking sensors.
This is the new 2.0-litre engine we first saw on the new X3. Displacing the same 1995cc as before, the engine is a new motor and is more powerful than before, offering 192PS of power and 400Nm of torque, which is developed at a mere 1750rpm. The motor feels smoother than before, but the amount of engine noise creeping into the cabin was unexpected. BMW is claiming a 0 to 100kmph time 7.2 seconds, which is marginally quicker than before. Performance feels similar to the older engine’s which was always a likeable motor. The engine pulls well from the moment you give it a go, with a linearity that’s impressive enough to want you to keep your right foot down.
Ratios for the 8-speed automatic gearbox are different now and the car feels more drivable than before, especially in city. The paddles are a delight to use, coupled with the quick responses from the gearbox. As compared to its German rivals, the 3 Series has always been the most fun to drive car and the current car does follow the tradition well.
RIDE AND HANDLING ;
The 3 Series has always been easy to drive and the latest car feels the same way, though a lot of buyers would find the seating too low which could hinder their view of the outsides. One of the biggest highlights of this new car is the plushness of its suspension. The older 3 was known for being stiffly sprung, but the new car surprised me with the way it took in bumps and dips on the road. There was a particular moment where I saw a dip at the very last moment and braced myself, but the car just took it in its stride without a hitch. The steering too has been much lighter than before which makes navigating traffic a breeze. Rear seat comfort is thus far better now, and the 3 Series feels like a better car overall.
Somewhere deep inside the driver in me was a disappointed as the suspension is now softer, but I was glad to note that’s not at the expense of sporty driving. Chuck the car carelessly into a fast corner and it stays planted, making it through confidently. The large 20-inch wheels on our car helped matters, though they did make the car prone to thuds a few times. The softer suspension does not deter the sporty demeanour of the 3 Series in any way, and the car is still as much of a driver’s car as before. Although, I was not too impressed with the steering. Yes it’s light and a treat to use in the city but as the speeds start climbing you expect it get heavier but it doesn’t resulting in the 3-series being rather twitchy and nervous at high speeds.
SAFETYY FEATURES ;
The 320d in the M Sport trim is quite well equipped. It comes with features like Head-Up display, Bluetooth with audio streaming, USB connectivity, a 205 W music system with 9 speakers, iDrive touch with handwriting recognition, integrated hard drive (20GB), Sat-nav with 3D maps, full LED headlamps. The M Sport Package also adds a more aggressive looking grille, M logo on the car key, door sills, front fenders and the leather steering wheel.
In terms of safety the 320d gets all the essentials expected of a luxury saloon. It comes with eight airbags, ABS ESP, side impact protection, tyre pressure monitor and run-flat tyres.
The BMW 3-Series has improved and the oil-burner is a cracker of an engine. The M-Sport kit adds a lot of extra oomph to the car. However, the top variant is a pricey proposition. If you really want the M bits and pieces then the M-Sport variant is worth buying but do consider the fact that the lower trims will also offer the same levels of drivability and the fun factor will also remain unchanged. Our suggestion would be to pick up either of the LuxuryLine or the SportLine trims and save some hard-earned moolah.