Seamless flight in to New Delhi, check; Keys to the latest long wheelbase BMW, double check! And since I was due to travel across from Delhi to Agra via the 165 kms 6 lane Yamuna expressway, I did have an idea on what to expect with this svelte looking sedan, given my extensive time with the newer G-generation of beemers.
One look and the 3 series facelift has a sharper more chiselled chin, a powerful and semi-aggressive front end that has enhanced its road presence greatly. But it’s that extended wheelbase with 19in M-Sport wheels with a taut ground-hugging stance that makes this car stand out as classy yet sporty.
I started off early the next morning to beat all of Delhi’s peak hour traffic with a plan to reach the other end of the Yamuna expressway in about 2.5-3 hrs, and having picked up my team, we set off. And in true BMW style, the driver is at the heart of the 330Li’s experience- a view of a traditional long-bonnet where-in resides a throaty 2-litre, 258bhp turbocharged petrol engine driven via an 8-speed auto transmission. Performance is relentless that is essentially a chauffeur-driven alternative to the traditional 3 & 5 series! I was touching speeds north of 150 km/h in no time given that this petrol heart accelerates from 0-100kmph in a mere 6.2 seconds.
But this brings me to the most meaningful enhancement on this LCi. The curved infotainment display housing 2 screens – the new 14.9-inch touch display is a joy to use with the new BMW OS 8. I was constantly switching between calls, and maps guidance given that I simply put the car into Cruise Control. Also, to note, the one-way trip of 180 kms returned a fuel economy of 18.0 km/l which was quite a revelation with the AC working on full blast and a car with some luggage and passengers.
On my way back at night, I sat myself on the rear seat that remains massively spacious with its great thigh support, massive legroom, soft pillowy headrest and a good recline angle. I wished BMW had added rear sunshades and some audio controls apart from the separate climate zone - but it's still one of the most comfortable places to be sat.
This quick two-day trip with a mix of city and expressway driving, simply re-sealed the fact that this facelifted BMW 3 Series Gran Limousine sits at the top of the pyramid of performance, engagement and back seat comfort. The subtle exterior changes, refreshing interior additions and an improved ride quality over the standard 3 are enough to justify the facelift that makes the 330Li all the more attractive. The new look and tech bits will define BMWs of the future, and with an overall mileage of 14 kmpl to the litre (18 kmpl on the highway) it simply proved that petrol’s can be fun and frugal while being cleaner (than diesels) with the right driving inputs!