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2016 BMW 3-Series Facelift LCI Review, India Road Test

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2016 BMW 3-Series Facelift LCI M-Sport package is more sportier and dynamic as it offers top of the line performance with more goodies

Enchanting –

  • M-Sport package makes it intimidating
  • Superlative chassis, brakes, engine
  • Extremely fuel efficient
  • Spacious and Luxurious while being sporty
  • Standard LED lights on all variants

Unsatisfying –

  • Priced a bit higher for M-Sport variant
  • Missing features such as reversing camera

BMW in India hasn’t had an easy time since the past few months. Mercedes’s back to back launches and the lime light that it steals away not just from BMW but Audi and Volvo as well, reflects every year in the sales chart. Mercedes has been leading since the last two years and every rival is trying their best to get their products in the market on the streets with customers. BMW was a leader in the country because of its market understanding, brand value and most importantly the sales and service network.

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Sales and service itself is one of the core strengths at BMW and hence entry-level models get the attention. BMW 3-Series Sedan doesn’t need a big time introduction and is part of the first few products in the lineup in India today. Despite the 1-Series and X1, the 3-Series is the entry-level saloon in the world and hence has a reputation for itself in every single country over the world. Recently BMW sold 10 million units of the 3-Series Sedan till date, since inception. The 3-Series is the segment benchmark according to some reports. We put it to through our comprehensive road test to give you an answer.

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Styling The 320D we tested is the 2016 LCI version M-Sport package. Design like every other BMW has a lot of tradition in it. Two kidney grilles up front, with sweeping headlights which, this time, connect to the grille. The front lights are all LED and the fog lamps are LED as well. The rear LED lights are particularly good-looking and the flowing design of the illumination and flush fit with the same idea looks great. From the rear it looks like a thoroughly modern BMW.

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We had the M-Sport Package which means the car sit lower, the wheels are bigger (18-inch) and the overall stance of the car is extremely low. The three-part bumper sends shivers in the rear view mirror of some rivals and frankly, when it arrived we thought we just got ourselves an M3 delivered instead by mistake. True stories apart, the long bonnet and short overhangs along with rear biased design along with a long wheelbase is now a tradition in this segment, which everyone ends up following too. All of this immediately makes it very intimidating. We are in particular fans of the Hofmeister kink and it works like magic on us.

Interiors This is a place you spend most of your time and BMW has nailed every single piece perfectly. The way the center console is tilted towards the driver, how everything sits flush and right. Quality levels are top-notch. Soft touch plastics everywhere, leather seats are high quality. We would preferred all black interior with the M-Sport package. However, BMW chose to show luxury and sport part together by using BMW individual.

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Space in the front and back is on par with segment best, enough headroom, shoulder room, and legroom at the rear is available with large seats being supportive and reclined well. 3-Series continuous to be a strict 4-seater with the large transmission tunnel in the between the seats. There is enough steering adjustment in the steering as well to get a sporty riding position.

Storage isn’t much as there is a large coin bin on the right side, minimum space underneath the armrest and two very small cup holders which has a slider that opens and closes. Bottle holders can just about one litre bottles. The center console, gear lever and iDrive button are similar and seen before and are beginning to look slightly dated.

However, they do their job really well and are placed and made to reach driver perfect. Top marks for ergonomics indeed. What we liked is the heads up display which changes color while in day and night. Day means white color and night means orange for HUD display numbers. It can show you connected devices, warning lights and of course the speed.

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Features list on our M-Sport included Heads up display, 9 speaker, 205W HiFi sound system, dual zone climate control, navigation, connectivity for music and telephone. A sunroof, rear A/C vents, lockable but not chilled glovebox, ambient lighting, 22.3 cm touch screen, parking sensors and much more. Front parking sensor and surprisingly rear camera are missing from the list. Steering mounted controls, Connected drive offer emergency assist, start-stop system with button, four driving modes, iDrive system which remains the most easiest to use in the segment.

M-Sport specific things include M Sport Package BMW kidney grille with 8 slats in Black high-gloss, Car key with M trim, Entry sills ‘BMW’, M Logo on front wings, Exclusive Chrome trim in the centre console area and M Sport leather steering wheel. Old school handbrake is always welcome. We are sure that it is on its way out as well. Sound system by HiFi is terrific as it sounds quality is top-notch and there is enough base to make people hear with doors and windows shut too. A/C is a chiller as well.

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There are many options to choose from in the setting such as home coming lights, things to be displayed on the dials which can be accessed by RHS stalk button placed on the left. Seats are massive when it comes to support, memory seat make things better. Bolster adjust-ability and manual thigh support is a boon as well. You can sit in the car as low as a sports car owner does and as high as you want. We prefer the former ALWAYS for a connected drive and ask everyone to do the same too.

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Safety kit includes, 8 airbags, run flat tyre with reinforcement and puncture detector, including pyrotechnic seat belt tens, Dynamic Stability Control (DSC) including Dynamic Traction Control (DTC), Cornering Brake Control (CBC), Anti-lock Braking System (ABS) with brake assist, BMW Condition Based Service (Intelligent maintenance system) and other passive safety system are made available. Overall, there isn’t anything to fault here. However, for some reason, the illumination wasn’t enough despite LED lights in our test car. On a rainy night and on the highway, it wasn’t enough to keep us confident.

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Engine and Gearbox Powering our test car was the 2.0 diesel engine. The all-aluminium mill that makes 190 BHP and 400 Nm of torque which has two turbos and is mated to an 8-speed automatic ZF gearbox is a gem of an diesel engine. Motor is the smooth, free revving, linear and one of the most powerful 2.0 litre diesel in the market. There is torque right from 1500 RPM to 3000 RPM, after which is revs upto 5000 RPM and more. Despite the last 1000 RPM doesn’t offer much punch, but the car keeps on pulling.

0-100 km/hr is done in 7.6 seconds and top-speed is north 220 km/hr. NVH levels are good but slightly down by luxury car manufacturer standards, only while accelerating. Given the performance, tractability and efficiency it offers thanks to the all-aluminum part, which is a bold move in the segment, it is worth it.

The sound though, isn’t diesel clatter, but almost sounds like a petrol engine when you redline the engine. Not a downer at all. Gear shifts are lightening quick in sports mode both, while up and downshifting. Comfort and EcoPro downshifts can be slightly lazy. Put it into manual mode and at first time you will end up finding the clutch pedal and a shifter as it reacts exactly the way you want it to be. Then you realize you have paddle shifts as well for complete control!

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Efficiency is one of the major highlights of the 3-series when it comes this diesel engine. We saw a 13.7 km/l in city driving when in EcoPro mode with start-stop on. 11.3 km/l while driving in comfort mode. 400 kms and above results in just half the tank being consumed. Overall, one of two major reasons, why the 3-Series is a hoot to drive as there is power whenever you need it and it is being put down quickly and efficiently.

Dynamics
When we said one of two major reasons why the BMW is a hoot to drive is this, the dynamics. The Ultimate Driving Machine tagline suits this BMW like no other. 3-Series may not be the purist’s ideal Bimmer anymore (2-Series, come to India) but were thoroughly satisfied when we drove this after a really long time. The way this M-Sport 3-Series handles is just 9/10. The way it stops, steers and goes around corner is precision all the way. The steering is fantastic and at dead center there is so much feedback from the steering and the entire chassis exactly doing what your inputs are, makes it grin bringer.

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The darty steering, the agile feeling in the corners and the way it turns-in into a corner with lighting quick reflexes is something what a dream chassis is. Rear wheel drive and front wheel steering is fun all the way. All of this is in comfort mode. Sports mode makes it sharper in every way, even the engine and you can push it harder and traction control allows a bit of fun. Sports + mode turns of the traction control but we did not use it on the public roads. It will drift when you get aggressive with corner exit. Then traction control will step in and save your ‘thing’. Stability at highway speeds is top-notch.

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While playing around in sports mode you can feel the weight at times and it can feel soft too. However, that is needed for our roads which are in outrageous form during the rains. We need that ride quality that BMW has chosen for us. The damping helps it become a fantastic balance of ride and handling package. Braking is top-notch with all around disc brakes and perfect pedal bite. Overall, it can be polished a bit, but then you cannot get this practical and fun balance together.

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2016 BMW 3-Series Facelift LCI Review, Verdict

After doing a through road test we can conclude that the 3-Series is everything an enthusiast needs. There is space on offer, there is legendary dynamics, the engine, despite diesel is phenomenal and then there is the premium appeal inside out that the 3-Series offers in abundance. 3-Series now offers a space saver tyre for but that eats up the boot space to an extent. Apart from the low ground clearance there isn’t much to complain in the 3-Series.

The saloon continues to offers a lot of standard features on base variant when it comes to safety. We have driven the competition too and we can say that the 3-Series has its edge on many aspects. The M-Sport may be a bit overpriced, but the Prestige line is too tempting to ignore. Bring this grin bringer to your garage before its time you see the grim reaper!

Rs. 54,83,781
Prices – On-road Mumbai

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