BMW 330i (3GT) Review: Road Test
- by Abhay Verma
- Oct 11, 2017
- Views : 6129
The famed Bavarian GT makes a comeback, this time with a much more iconic badge on the rump, the 330i. Does it deliver the goods?
A few years ago when BMW first launched the 5 Series GT, the car elicited a lukewarm response despite practicality of the additional space it offered. The new GT comes in a smaller, more affordable form based on the new 3 Series. Of course, it looks a lot better – I’m not sure how many people really liked the looks of the 5 Series GT. But the bigger draw of the new 3 Series GT is its 330i badge, which has always been rather special. No, lest you are about to leap up in glee, this 3 Series GT does not get a 3.0-litre, inline six-cylinder, naturally aspirated petrol engine. Instead, it gets a 2.0-litre inline four that puts out 252PS of power. So not what we were expecting, but seemingly exciting nonetheless! We put it through a thorough test to see just how much it would tickle our fancy.
The car you see is here is the refreshed 3 Series GT that received minor styling updates recently to spruce up its external appearance. It’s still understated, but there’s a bit more aggression in the appearance, particularly in the front end. The wider grille and LED headlights differ from the 3 Series sedan ever so slightly, and head on you could possibly confuse the GT for its sedan sibling. But seen from all other angles, the swooping roofline, longer wheelbase, sportier-looking alloys and retractable spoiler are what completely differentiate it from the sedan.
Admittedly, not only does this car look way better than the erstwhile 5 Series GT, but it’s also got a lot more sex appeal going for it compared to the 3 Series sedan. The twin exhausts add a dose of sportiness of the rear, as do the swanky looking tail lights. The all-LED headlights are an engineering marvel in terms of their design, and in fact one evening half the office was out in the parking lot, trying to click the best possible photograph of the LED daytime running lights on their mobile phones!
And the 3 GT is a big car – look at it from the sides and you will be convinced this is definitely longer and bigger than the 3 Series sedan.
Step inside and there’s a sense of déjà vu, as the interiors of the 330i GT are nearly identical to most other BMWs. The steering wheel, layout of the dashboard and placement of controls are all too familiar, and while that is a bit of a disappointment, fans of the blue roundel are sure to appreciate this family design language. Given that the 3 GT slots in above the regular 3 Series we would have liked a few more premium touches. That said the quality of materials used is top notch, and there’s lots of fine leather, soft plastics and metals that are nice to the touch. Even the seats are what one would expect of a BMW – snug, supportive, yet plush and comfortable.
One rather appealing factor is that, in typical BMW fashion, every single control is exactly where you would want it to be, and I even like the placement of the 8.7-inch display for the infotainment and iDrive system. The infotainment screen offers an excellent resolution, so the display is crisp and clear. The car gets a 9-speaker surround sound system that delivers very good audio quality, and there’s even 20GB of storage space for your music. Unlike some of its contemporaries, the clocks are analogue, and that really speaks to the enthusiast in us. The ergonomics are spot on too and the steering wheel feels great in your hands, thanks to its contours.
One of the biggest advantages of the GT over the sedan is the sheer amount of space it offers. There’s acres of head, leg and knee room at the rear as compared to the 3 Series sedan, and the beige interiors our test car came with only accentuated the roomy feel. In fact with the amount of space the car offers – be it for the rear occupants or in the boot – the 3 GT could give bigger and more expensive sedans a run for their money.
Engine and performance
While we would have liked to have 3.0-litre inline six engine that classically came with the 330i moniker, the 2.0-litre four cylinder engine doesn’t exactly disappoint. In fact, with 252PS of power on tap and 350Nm of torque coming in from as low as 1450rpm, this engine is a lot of fun. In our VBOX tests the 330i GT completed the 0-100kmph dash in just 6.65 seconds, which makes it one seriously quick car. In fact it’s quicker than some cars that cost significantly more. Given free rein the 252 horses let the car hit 160kmph in just over 16 seconds. We actually ran out of tarmac and had to slow down at 238kmph on the VBOX, even though the car still had some more go. Simply put, this car is nuts, and the 2.0-litre engine certainly won’t less you miss the larger 6-pot motor. The car’s blistering pace is also courtesy of the brilliant 8-speed automatic transmission that uses closely stacked ratios. It is super quick when it comes to swapping cogs and does well in ensuring that you are in the right gear at any given time.
The engine feels butter smooth throughout its rev range, and is a fine example of the brilliant engineering BMW is known for. The exhaust note is a bit of a letdown though. You get a hint of sportiness in the sound as revs go up, but otherwise it feels rather muted. That said, it would only be wrong to expect a four-pot turbo to sing like a six-pot naturally-aspirated motor.
Of course, there are driving modes too, and you can choose from Eco Pro, Comfort, Sport and Sport Plus. Throttle sensitivity, steering feel and revs at which the gearbox shifts up are altered depending on the mode chosen. Now one wouldn’t buy the 330i GT with the sort of performance it has on offer in order to eke out massive efficiency numbers, but Eco Pro mode does let you feel a little less guilty about burning fossil fuel. It makes throttle response softer, shifts up at just under 2000rpm and even reduces the effect of the air-conditioner to boost efficiency. Meanwhile, a digital display in the lower half of the tachometer tells you whether you’re consuming power or charging the battery.
Coming down to numbers, the 330i GT managed 14.87kmpl on the highway in our real world tests, which is actually quite good given the stunning performance. This figure dropped to 9.2kmpl in city, which isn’t too surprising. Drive with a heavy foot and the number will probably go down to as low as 7kmpl, but that’s not what this BMW is about, right? So Sport or Sport Plus modes, making full use of the shapely paddle shifters behind the wheel is where the real driving pleasure of this car can be found. Needless to say, Sport Plus makes the throttle overtly responsive and feels a bit too aggressive for city use. On the highway or in the hills though, particularly with lesser intervention from the electronics Dynamic Stability Control, this driving mode really comes into its own.
Ride and handling
Being a car that’s as quick as entry-level sportscars, you’d expect the 330i GT’s suspension to be rock hard, right? Well, the 330i GT actually surprised me in this regard – a couple of times I happened to approach potholes at rather high speeds and instantly braced myself for the thuds. But the car made it through without unsettling me or itself, leaving me stunned. In fact if you’ve driven any of the new generation BMWs, you’ll know how this German marque, once known for stiffly sprung, sporty handling cars, has now learned to offer good ride quality without sacrificing that sportiness. Kudos to BMW for finding that balance, as the 330i GT really drove home this point.
The comfort is even better at the rear, and the 330i GT indeed proves itself to be an impressive touring machine with its plush ride and loads of space inside. When it comes to munching miles it can really cover distances at serious speeds and in supreme comfort. On the other hand, it stays true to its genes and delights you with its sporty handling, completely belying its gargantuan size and weight. When required, the suspension has the tautness to carve corners with stunning agility, with minimal body roll, staying flat through corners.
What adds to the joy of driving this car fast is its lovely steering. BMWs are known to have some of the best steering systems and the 330i GT is not any different. Its steering wheel not only feels perfectly weighted at all times but also offers great feedback. At the same time, there’s tons of grip from the Michelins which lets you trust them at all times.
There’s pretty much everything you expect from a BMW in the 330i GT. It gets a stonker of an engine that’s surprisingly revvy in nature, helping the car accelerate to silly speeds in a jiffy and yet managing respectable efficiency numbers when driven with a lighter foot. The blistering pace and strong acceleration almost belies the 330i GT being a large, spacious 4-door luxury car.
Ridiculous performance aside it has all the makings of a grand tourer as well. There’s loads of space, a massive boot, and ride quality that can put some other luxury sedans to shame. Build quality is top notch and on the whole, the 330i GT comes across as a very well-packaged car. For someone who wants a BMW that offers better space than the 3 Series but isn’t as expensive as the 5 Series, it’s next to impossible to do any better.
The 330i GT Luxury Line’s price tag of Rs 49.97 lakh ex-showroom puts it right in that territory. Of course, the less explosive 320d version costs about four and a half lakh rupees less in its Sport Line trim. But what’s the point of a BMW if it isn’t going to make you grin like an idiot every time you see an open road and mash the loud pedal?
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