2023 BMW 3 Series Gran Limousine facelift review, road test - sporty limo gets techier
Launching the BMW 3 Series Gran Limousine was a spirited move by the luxury brand. This long-wheelbase 3 Series has gone on to be one of the top sellers in its price range considering you don't get an LWB option for any of its rivals.
This sedan has had quite a part to play in BMW having its best year in India in 2022. It plans on launching five new cars in the country just in January to keep up the momentum, so it's not surprising that one of these is the facelifted BMW 3 Series Gran Limousine.
2023 BMW 3 Series Gran Limousine facelift exterior changes
Now this being a Life Cycle Intervention or facelift in BMW speak, most of the changes to the outside are cosmetic and centred around the front. This is most apparent with the new slimmed-down LED headlamps with the inverted L motifs. We liked the old-school purity of the outgoing lamps with their discreet LED signature a bit more but this does tie in with the more angular look BMW is going for with its cars lately.
You now get a reworked kidney grille which has been slightly enlarged and has more intricate detailing. The bigger changes have been left for the bumpers with their sharply cut shapes and the deep central air intake with its honeycomb grille. The elongated side skirts are now larger, more angular and also happen to be functional. These changes work well enough with the existing design of the 3 Series to not feel forced.
Expectedly, the side profile remains largely unchanged. You get those same smart 18-inch alloys with their staggered sizes and the silhouette is quite cohesive for an extended wheelbase car, retaining the typical rear-drive sedan proportions quite convincingly. Some minor changes to the rear round things off like the new bumper with its more prominently shaped ornamental diffuser.
2023 BMW 3 Series Gran Limousine facelift interior changes, features
The changes to the inside of the 3 Series facelift are again not deep but are significant. It now shares its dash layout with the electric i4. So that quite small 10-inch screen from earlier is replaced by the big new iDrive 8 display. This touchscreen is massive at 14.9 inches and the instrument cluster is 12.3 inches.
The new graphics in the instrumentation are more vibrant, you get more layout options too and there is now more information to be accessed here than earlier, an especially useful highlight being the turn-by-turn Google Maps navigation.
The touchscreen is again quite smartphone-like with the big widgets and icons in the menus. You get used to it quickly enough with the logical sub-menus but the system could be a bit quicker, most noticeable when you fire up Android Auto/Apple Carply although the integration is one of the best out there.
The climate controls have moved here so that isn't as nice. But it isn't as bad as the i4 with not too many frequently used functions thrown in here. With this change, the central vents are now slimmer and that useful bank of buttons for the climate and audio functions has also condensed into a slimmer capacitive panel. Again looks slicker but is not quite as easy to use as earlier.
Thankfully the centre console retains physical controls for the iDrive, drive modes and other functions. The new toggle shifter blends in well and is quite tactile to use, but we still would have liked the near-perfect stubby lever from earlier. This was also easier to use while making say a three-point turn.
With the diesel now available in M Sport guise you get enhancements like a dark headliner, the M Sport wheel, the quite nicely textured lattice pattern on the centre console and backlit M sill plates.
The rest of the cabin remains unchanged, so the materials and finishes are about the best you can find in a car like this. You sit low with the large wheel set at just the right position and there is still good visibility. The rear seat remains massively spacious with its great thigh support, legroom and good recline angle. There is a central tunnel so two will be most comfortable. You get a separate climate zone here but not much else. We were hoping BMW would add sunshades and some audio controls here but it's still quite a comfortable place as always
2023 BMW 3 Series Gran Limousine facelift diesel driving impressions
The facelift BMW 3 Series Gran Limousine continues mechanically unchanged with the same powertrain options. So you have the 320Ld as seen here with its 2.0-litre diesel making 190PS and 400 Nm, as well as the 330Li with its 258PS and 400 Nm.
As you would expect, the 3 Series drives largely similarly to the one before. Having said that, we think there's some piped-in audio to go with this diesel 320Ld. It's almost like a BMW 6-cylinder with none of a diesel's gruffness, especially in the Sport mode, and is really one of the better-sounding diesels we've experienced, as fake as it may be. Not sure why you would need it but there is quite a snappy launch control function too! These additions have come with the M Sport package now being standard across the range.
The ZF 8 speed and the suspension tune have also been optimised to go with the M Sport package, for the first time in the 320Ld. The gearbox feels a bit more alert at giving you downshifts when you need them for overtakes and the like, from how we remember the last non-M Sport 320Ld to be. Also, the suspension now seems to find a better balance between comfort and agility. There's a bit less wallowing over dips but the ride quality continues to remain a highlight. As before, despite the long wheelbase, the 3 Series is quite the handler with great steering feedback and quite a bit if not all of that sense of balance that you expect from a 3.
As for this motor's performance, it's still about as good as diesels get. You have the clean, linear wave of diesel torque, which means in any situation the 320Ld has a good reserve of performance on offer. It also revs quite briskly for a diesel, which is great on highway cruise although if you truly want to unlock the 3 Series' engaging performance, the 330Li is the better pick. That said, it's hard to argue with an 11 kmpl city and near-15 kmpl highway mileage number.
2023 BMW 3 Series Gran Limousine facelift verdict
The facelifted BMW 3 Series Gran Limousine then manages to bridge the fine line in this transitionary phase for the brand. Yes, is taken on the new look and tech bits that will define BMWs of the future, but that fine symmetry between performance, engagement and comfort that makes any 3 Series so appealing is still fully intact.
2023 BMW 3 Series Gran Limousine performance, real-world mileage
0 to 100 kmph - 7.1s
30 to 50 kmph - 1.4s
50 to 70 kmph - 1.8s
60 to 80 kmph - 1.8s
100 to 0 kmph - 40.2m, 3.1s
City - 11.02 kmpl
Highway - 14.57 kmpl
Overall - 10.9 kmpl
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