As sedan segment itself, Sport sedans are a dying breed. There are only a small handful of real fun-to-drive midsize rear-wheel drive sedans left on the US market. Thankfully, BMW isn’t giving up on the segment it pretty much invented. That Segment leader 3 series has been updated for 2023 with styling and features designed to keep its loyal buyers from getting lost The dark side of SUVs. I’ve just returned from BMW’s annual test fest in Southern California, where the brand gathers cars and journalists to catch up on all the new models. Here’s what you can expect from the 2023 3 Series.
2023 BMW 3 Series: Classic, Efficient or M3-lite
For 2023, the 3 Series consists of three powertrain variants for the US market. We start with what BMW calls its core model, the 330i. Power comes from a 2.0-liter turbocharged inline four that produces 255 horsepower (because remember, BMW’s numeric model names no longer have any meaning). That engine is only mated to an eight-speed automatic – you can’t get a stick shifter in a base 3-Series today. The 330i is the classic choice for those who want it easy a no-frills 3-sedan.
For those who want a bit of efficiencyyou can choose the 330e plug-in hybrid. A 2.0-liter turbocharged inline-four producing 181 hp is paired with a 107-hp electric motor for a total of 288 hp. There’s also a 12kWh battery that makes this possible the 330e to go up to 22 miles on electric range alone.
The top of the 3 Series range is what I think of as “the M3 lite,” the M340i. It’s a 3.0-liter turbocharged inline-six that produces 382 hp. The big news for 2023 is the addition of and a 48-volt mild hybrid system on the M340i, integrated directly into the eight-speed automatic transmission (again, the only transmission available). While it offers some efficiency improvement and makes for a smoother engine stop/start system, BMW says the main purpose of the hybrid system here is to increase pulling power and off-line acceleration.
Another plus: xDrive all-wheel drive is available for every drive train in the 3 Series.
2023 BMW M340i: No seriously, it’s an M3 Lite
BMW threw me the keys to a 2023 M340i and told me to have a few hours of fun driving in and around the San Bernardino National Forest. I wanted to see how the addition of the mild hybrid system affected the handling of this performance sedan.
The first thing you notice is how quiet the 2023 M340i is during normal driving. Driving out of the hotel and stopping at a couple of traffic lights, the hybrid setup seamlessly engages the stop-start system. Normally I have a general hatred of these types of systems as they are often annoying and rude when engaging. But I have to say the M340i had one of the smoothest stop-start systems I’ve ever experienced. I’ve never really tried disabling it, which is a first for me.
Once I got to the mountain pass, I hit the sport mode button to liven things up. I’m here to tell you the M340i is excellent. soma current BMW decisions can seem to indicate who has the brand forgotten which means the ultimate driving machine, but the 2023 M340i allays that fear. The chassis and the way the car responds to inputs are really excellent. I understood everything that was going on through the steering wheel feedback. I was confident enough to take corners 15-20 mph faster than I would have and not be surprised if the front end washed out without warning.
The mild hybrid system acts almost like a second turbocharger that is always running at full speed. Overtaking slow moving vehicles on dual carriageways is hilariously easy. And the exhaust note is splendid. BMW’s straight-six has always had a great voice, but I didn’t expect it to pop and roar under deceleration. That’s a fun touch, especially on a hybrid, and it definitely turns heads. The level of performance is so high, a few years ago it could have been an M3.
2023 BMW 3 Series: New design and features
The 3 Series gets some styling and tech updates for 2023. The 330i and 330e get sporty new front and rear bumpers with gloss black air intakes in front of the front wheels; The headlights and DRLs are slimmer and appear more angular.
The 2023 330i and 330e models are available with the M Sport styling package. You get M-specific front and rear aprons, 19-inch alloy wheels, and a honeycomb pattern on the front grille. It’s not just for show either – the M sports package brings adaptive suspension and sports steering.
You’ll really be able to differentiate the 2023 M340i from the rest of the range thanks to its more aggressive styling all round, from a mesh design on the kidney grilles to M-specific exhaust outlets and 18-inch (or optional 19-inch) M twin-spoke wheels.
The interior also gets a redesign. As with so many new vehicles, the 3-Series ditches the separate instrument cluster and infotainment display, replacing them with a large curved panel with two screens. BMW has updated the 3 Series infotainment system with the latest iDrive 8 operating system, running on a 14.9-inch display and a 12.3-inch screen behind the wheel. Slimmer air vents and a tiny, lever-like gear selector help make the interior sleeker and more minimalist.
The 2023 BMW 3 Series is available in stores now. The base specification 330i starts at $43,295; the 330e adds $1,000. With the M340i, which starts at $55,845, you have to pay to play. Spend $2,000 to add xDrive all-wheel drive to any trim level. All prices listed here include BMW’s $995 destination fee.
It’s great to see BMW keeping the sports sedan alive with the 3 Series. With the coming EV revolution Here’s hoping a future all-electric 3 Series can continue that effort. Until then, the 2023 3 Series does a great job of living up to the brand’s legend.