Cov­eted badge, TwinPower Turbo four-pot mo­tor. Makes for a test

Car India - - CONTENTS - Story: Jim Gorde Pho­tog­ra­phy: San­jay Raikar

THE BEAUTY OF POWER IS THAT IT can ap­pear in so many forms. Yet the power of beauty can­not be un­der­es­ti­mated in a world that thinks with its eyes. The new 3 Se­ries Gran Turismo has ar­rived in In­dia. More im­por­tantly, it brings back a badge long revered in the au­to­mo­tive scene; one that makes en­thu­si­asts smile. The 330i name is one that evokes a rush of emo­tion and en­dor­phins for many. How­ever, what it was then was a 3.0-litre nat­u­rally-as­pi­rated straight-six recog­nised as a mar­vel­lously-bal­anced mas­ter­piece. To­day, BMW have man­aged to squeeze out seven more horses from their ‘28i’-badged in-line four, tak­ing the to­tal up to 252 PS; enough for it to earn the +2 for its nomen­cla­ture in their book. Does it live up to the ti­tle? Are those shoes filled well? Let’s find out.

The new 330i Gran Turismo gets a few nips and tucks for a fresh face, but stays the same when it comes to pro­por­tions. It’s not a mil­lime­tre longer and es­sen­tially fresh­ens up the ex­ist­ing model that has seen a fair share of in­ter­est from lux­ury-car and sport-lux­ury-car seek­ers alike. The se­cret of its suc­cess lies in the bal­ance of a sporty im­age with the slop­ing roof, which adds to both per­cep­tion and rear head-room.

So it does look portlier than the sedan, but with the Bavar­ian badge it wears, you know it will be fun to drive, if not the 330i badg­ing on the rear flanks. There are a few sub­tle changes be­tween the 2014 model and the new car, no­tably the sharp new adap­tive head­lamps that look sleeker and use new LED sig­na­tures. The lower air-dam is restyled and in­cor­po­rates chrome gar­nish strips. The rear also gets new LED tail-lamp sig­na­tures that aban­don straights in favour of curves. The re­vised rear bumper packs dual pipes on the left with the re­flec­tors re­lo­cated a few storeys higher.

Un­lock the car us­ing the re­mote — there’s no key­less drive — and step in­side, and the lay­out is pleas­ing with its soft beige theme; doesn’t seem like too much go­ing on. The driver info-con­sole is prop­erly old-school with white let­ter­ing on black di­als and an am­ber back­light com­ing on when the head­lamps are on. The cen­tre con­sole has a widescreen dis­play that shows the func­tions from the iDrive Touch con­troller that’s of­fered as stan­dard. Dual-zone auto-cli­mate is enough to main­tain a cool cabin am­bi­ence, and the panoramic fold­ing sun-roof

adds to the roomy feel. The boot is mas­sive, with 520 litres of ex­panse that lets you store all kinds of lug­gage. The 40:20:40 split-fold­ing rear seat adds to flex­i­bil­ity. The stor­age cov­ers also look classy and keep your cargo con­cealed. How­ever, the spare wheel does eat into the vol­ume quite a bit.

See­ing as how the 3 GT will be a chauf­feur-driven car more of­ten than not, the rear is the place to be. With up to 960 mm of knee-room with the front pas­sen­ger seat taken all the way for­ward, there’s more than enough room to stretch out and re­lax. Even be­hind the driver, about 850 mm is avail­able, de­pend­ing on the size of the driver, and that makes for re­laxed tour­ing, even within the city if you hap­pen to be go­ing from one end to the other. This as­pect is fur­thered by the ex­cel­lent sound dead­en­ing em­ployed. There was hardly a sound that came through to the cabin on the move, save for a mild sense when the most pierc­ing of heavy truck air-horns blared.

Speak­ing of sounds on the move, this is a 330i, and it should sound like one. The 1,998-cc en­gine is sim­i­lar to the one in the 320i with its knobs turned up. Peak power is 252 PS ar­riv­ing at 5,200 rpm and stay­ing strong un­til 6,500 rpm. That’s also where the mo­tor sounds its ab­so­lute best. The peak 350 Nm of torque ar­rives at 1,450 rpm and stays till 4,800 rpm, with the eight-speed au­to­matic fun­nelling the power to the rear wheels; Con­ti­nen­tal’s 225/50 R18 Con­tiS­port Con­tacts be­ing the rub­ber of choice.

Find a nice stretch and put your foot down and you can hear the turbo whis­tle as you cross 2,000 rpm. It will quickly dis­miss 100 km/h and head to a lim­ited 250-km/h top speed. Cruis­ing at 60 km/h in ‘Eco Pro’ saw the nee­dle hov­er­ing at just about 1,000 rpm in eighth gear. It also re­turned com­mend­able fig­ures of 12 km/l in the city and 18 km/l on the high­way. Those, how­ever, drop by up to four km/litre in Sport+ mode.

Show it some cor­ners and it’s planted and goes through as if it’s on rails. In the tighter, more an­gled turns, how­ever, it’s bulk is ev­i­dent and there is no­tice­able roll; thank the softer sus­pen­sion for that. Of course, it’s a Gran Turismo, and it needs the cushier ride. The seats are a lot softer than the sedan’s. The steer­ing is rather firm but of­fers ex­cel­lent feed­back in all sit­u­a­tions. The brakes, con­versely, didn’t give as much feed­back but were hugely ef­fec­tive; al­low­ing the 1.6-tonne GT to come to a stand­still from 80 km/h in just 2.3 sec­onds over 25 me­tres. It’s an en­thralling car at speed and it does many things well. For those kind of num­bers, Rs 47.50 lakh (exshow­room) is a rel­a­tively com­pet­i­tive ask­ing price. But when you know what the 30i rep­re­sented ear­lier, the ab­sence of those two more cylin­ders speaks louder. Sure, the four is a great en­gine, but the way it picks up and goes run­ning, although quick, lacks the creamy essence of bal­ance and fi­nesse that the straight-six of­fered. That’s why BMW have the 340i over­seas. This new 252-PS 330 is a step up from the 245-PS 328, yes, but, dare I say, for the purist, it’s not enough. It’s 28 go­ing on 29.

Lon­gi­tu­di­nal mo­tor gets ‘30i’ badge, a turbo, and 252 PS, but loses out on two cylin­ders

Rear pas­sen­ger room is fan­tas­tic, more than many ex­ec­u­tive sedans

Boot vol­ume is 520 litres; goes up to 1,600 litres... ...with­out the spare wheel in there, of course

Dial de­sign 101. Note the 7k rpm red-line

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