• BMW 3 Series 330 LI M Sport first drive review

Practicality with a dash of sportiness headlines this  3 Series variant

BMW makes fantastic drivers cars. Period. Be it the driving position, dynamics or powertrains the fun quotient is always high. And the 3 Series has always been a fine example. This is true even for the 3 Series Gran Limousine! It’s trump card is the extra legroom at the rear but thankfully, driving pleasure hasn’t really been dialled down to retain the quintessential BMW feel. And while the Gran Limousine has always been offered with in the potent 330 Li version, an even more desirable, M Sport ‘First Edition’ variant has been added to the mix.

The power of colour:

Colours make a huge difference to a car’s appeal, like this special Portimao Blue. It has been synonymous with M cars and makes the 330Li look sporty and elegant in equal measures. So I couldn’t help smiling on noticing a few kids pointing out the car to their parents on the road, thanks to its shade of blue.

Black accents replace a lot of the chrome as part of the M Sport package, something I always prefer over the shiny stuff. It also adds a dash of understated sportiness, while not distracting you from the blue hue. Heck, the 330 Li M Sport also features the ‘active kidney grille’. So the vents are closed otherwise, but open up when you crank the engine.

A dash of M Sport:

The M Aerodynamics package and tastefully executed 18-inch alloy wheels accentuate the car’s appeal and in case you were wondering, the body kit does help the car cut through air better.

Surprisingly though this car only gets two understated ‘M’ badges, on the front fender on either side and not even on the rump. Open the doors and you will notice the large M badge on the door sill though.

The cabin feels familiar, save for the M steering wheel and paddle shifters. The First Edition gets a Head-Up Display, Gesture Control and 360-degree park assist too. I dig BMW’s driver-focused cabins, but the design is getting long in the tooth now, especially when compared to its rivals. That said, I do like the tan leather and the ambient lighting. The cabin also feels roomy, thanks to the rear legroom and panoramic sunroof.

The M Spirit:

Slide into the plush Vernasca leather seat and you will appreciate the low seating and view of the long hood ahead. With the tried and tested 2.0-litre turbocharged petrol engine under the hood (sending 258PS and 400Nm to the rear wheels, great for going sideways!) the 330 Li is a driver’s car. There’s lots of shove at low revs and you have ample grunt on offer at all times but a bigger highlight are the throttle responses in Sport mode. The 330 Li thus feels very engaging, even when just driving at part throttle in city. Claimed 0-100kmph time is 6.2 seconds, adding to the car’s charm.

The 330 Li delighted in the twisties with its taut dynamics, but with some body roll when pushed. The steering is very communicative while brakes help shed pace quickly. Despite the 18-inch wheels running low profile, Michelin Pilot Sport rubber, the car soaks up bumps well, save for the occasional hard-edged pothole. So yes, the 330 Li M Sport is a sportier take on the Gran Limousine and helped me reiterate the fact that unlike before, BMW has a 3 Series for everyone in its line-up today.

And no, this one isn’t really sitting on the fence. It can straddle the role of a chauffeur-driven car and a driver’s car both with surprising ease. Prices start at Rs 54 lakh ex-showroom, making the 330Li M Sport very practical, as it offers good performance and dynamics and looks as cool as its more hardcore cousins.

Cars First drives

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