The Sport Sedan Is a Notch Sportier


The seventh-generation BMW 3 Series, despite somewhat ironically ranking seventh among our list of current compact sedans on sale at the time of this publishing, is a huge global sales hit. BMW says it’s moving more units and selling faster than any 3 Series before it, cresting 1.1 million cars sold since the latest-gen was introduced in 2018. That would explain the extremely conservative approach to the refreshed styling of the 2023 BMW 3 Series, now with slightly more edge for a sportier character.

The Same but Different

The first thing noticeable—okay, perhaps only to eagle-eyed BMW fans—about the new 3 design is the headlights. On the outgoing model, BMW was inspired by the small notch below the E46 generation of 3 Series’ headlights, and brought it back as a small design element in the headlight of the new car. That’s gone now, with a clean edge at the bottom of the 2023 model year’s slimmer headlight units, and a smooth bumper without the styling crease. Wondering what the heck we’re talking about? Check out the split-screen we created above—the new 3 is on the left, in gray, and the pre-update version is on the right, in blue; note the lack of a notch on the gray model’s headlight.

The rest of the new look adopts a geometric, sporty character with more creases and edges in the shapes of the reworked front and rear bumpers and intakes. The grille has also been slightly tweaked to seat the new slim headlights, and now features a double bar motif in its grille. The previously available dark Shadowline trim accents are now standard, but satin aluminum trim is available. Other 2023 model year updates include all-new wheel designs, a new Skyscraper Grey metallic paint color, and a new Brooklyn Grey metallic on cars with the M Sport Package and M340i models.

Inside the updated 3, the dashboard air vents have been reworked with a slimmer design and live under the 14.3-inch touchscreen offering the latest BMW iDrive 8 software, and there’s a new toggle lever design for selecting gears on the console. There’s also standard navigation installed on all trim levels using BMW Maps. Voice-activated features now include changing climate control settings, and lowering or raising cabin widows and the sunroof. A 5G mobile hotspot with connectivity for up to 10 devices is also available.

M Sport Pack and Dynamic Handling

The available M Sport Package on the 330i and 330e trims get chrome accents on the kidneys, a large rear diffuser, variable sport steering, 19-inch light-alloy wheels, and the 330i with the pack can get either the rather stiff M Sport suspension or Adaptive M Suspension, the latter of which is also offered as part of the Dynamic Handling Package for the 330i and 330e. Inside, the M Sport pack gets an M leather steering wheel and a new aluminum Rhombicle finish.

BMW M340i Updates

The updated 48-volt mild hybrid M340i also gets a reworked design, featuring larger air intakes, a mesh kidney grille, trapezoidal exhaust tips, a body-colored rear spoiler, and available 18-inch M double-spoke light-alloy wheels. The coolest feature of the new M340i is its heritage badging, with an anniversary BMW emblem using the original BMW M GmbH design used on racing cars back in 1973 featured on the hood, trunk, and center caps.

Carry-Over Power

BMW hasn’t done much to the powertrains available across the 3 series lineup, still offering 330i, 330e and M340i trims, each available with BMW’s xDrive all-wheel drive system. To recap, the 330i sports a turbocharged 2.0-liter I-4 making 258 horsepower and 295 lb-ft of torque. The 330e plug-in hybrid with an integrated electric motor keeps its 22 estimated miles of all-electric range, and its gas and electric power sources combine for 288 hp and 310 lb-ft of torque. The M340i with 48-volt mild hybrid tech makes 382 horsepower and 369 lb-ft torque, and using a torque inverter, the 48-volt system is also connected to the onboard 12-volt electronic system to keep everything juiced up. All models come with an 8-speed automatic transmission. Any pricing changes have yet to be announced.

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