Fun on the run

A BMW is all about driving nirvana. And the new 3 Series is no different.

Vikrant Singh | Print Edition: April 5, 2009

The last time I was in a BMW, it cost the Bavarian carmaker a set of expensive tyres and rims. I was driving the 530i, on a racetrack all to myself, but, let me say upfront, it wasn’t entirely my fault.

First of all, the 530i is rear wheeldriven and has a power surge as intense as an orgasm, so anyone would end up spinning the rear wheels on corner after corner. And secondly, if the driver possesses even a hint of skill, he’d pull some wicked drifts not just on the track but en route to PTA meetings as well. I did, and got so carried away, that at the end of the day, I was driving back on rims.  

  • Engine: 2497 cc

  • Max power: 215 bhp

  • Max torque: 246 Nm

  • Gearbox: 6-speed auto

  • 0-100 kmph: 9.1 seconds

  • Top speed: 235 kmph

  • Price: Rs 35.5 lakh
So, it’s established—BMW makes cars that are exhilarating to drive, invitations to go berserk no less. And the new 3 Series is in the same mould. It is available with three engines, from the relatively mild 156 bhp 2-litre (petrol), the pennywise 2-litre diesel (176 bhp), right up to the 2.5-litre inline 6-cylinder petrol engine with 215 bhp on tap, which truly brings out the 3 Series’ character. It’s terrific. It accelerates as if it had live crackers up its behind and carves corners with the finesse of a master sculptor.

Oh and forget A.R. Rahman—this engine deserves to walk away the Academy Award for the best original soundtrack. It’s rousing, and with the accelerator mashed to the floor, an opus beyond compare. But, it’s not just the engine or the way it sounds that makes this car a joy to drive. Every mechanical bit connects so beautifully with the driver that it seems the car has been engineered around him. The steering, brakes and even the manual override for the 6-speed automatic gearbox works with the intuitiveness of your own limbs.

The important question, though is—how different is the new 3 Series to the one it replaces? And the answer is, not very. Yes, it looks different on the outside with its bulging bonnet line and a new set of tail lamps. But, that’s about it. On the inside, it’s near identical, if you were to discount the new iDrive system, of course, which, thankfully, is much more user-friendly now. I expected more changes because its competition—the Audi A4 and the Mercedes C-class—are more thoughtfully designed.

So, why should one buy a 3 Series? Well, it might not be as comfortable as a C-class or as politically correct as an Audi. But for a driving enthusiast who has petrol running in his veins, it’s the most stimulating buy in its class.

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