As the sedan segment itself, sports sedans are an endangered species. Only a small handful of rear-wheel-drive, fun-to-drive midsize sedans remain in the US market. Luckily, BMW isn’t abandoning the segment it pretty much invented. The 3 Series segment leader has been updated for 2023 with styling and features that should keep its loyal buyers from wandering off the dark side of SUVs. Just got back from BMW’s annual Test Fest in Southern California, where the brand gathers cars and journalists for a catch-up on all the new models. Here’s what you can expect from the 2023 3 Series.
BMW 3 Series 2023: classic, efficient or M3-lite
For 2023, the 3 Series lineup consists of three powertrain choices for the US market. We start with what BMW calls its base model, the 330i. Power comes from a 2.0-liter turbocharged inline-four making 255 horsepower (because remember, BMW’s digital model names don’t mean anything anymore). That engine is only mated to an eight-speed automatic – you can’t get a stick shift in a base 3-Series today. The 330i is the classic choice for those who just want a no-frills 3 Series sedan.
For those who want a bit of efficiencyyou can choose the 330e plug-in hybrid. A 2.0-liter turbocharged inline-four developing 181 hp is paired with a 107 hp electric motor for a total of 288 hp. There is also a 12 kWh battery which will allow the 330th to drive up to 22 miles on electric range alone.
The top of the line 3 series is what I consider “the M3 lite”, the M340i. It is a 3.0-liter turbocharged inline-six producing 382 hp. The big news for 2023 is the addition of 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 improvement in efficiency and makes the engine stop/start system smoother, BMW says the main purpose of the hybrid system here is to increase passing power and acceleration off. line.
Another plus: xDrive all-wheel drive is available with all 3 Series powertrains.
2023 BMW M340i: No seriously, it’s an M3 Lite
BMW threw me the keys to a 2023 M340i and told me to have fun for a few hours of driving in and around the San Bernardino National Forest. I wanted to see how the addition of the mild-hybrid system affects the handling of this performance sedan.
The first thing you notice is how quiet the 2023 M340i is during normal driving. When exiting the hotel and stopping at a few lights, the hybrid setup seamlessly engages the start/stop system. I regularly a universal hatred for these types of systems as they are often boring and rough when engaging. But I must say that the M340i had one of the smoothest stop-start systems I have ever encountered. I’ve never tried turning it off, which is a first for me.
Once I got to the mountain pass, I pressed the sport mode button to liven things up. I’m here to tell you that the M340i is excellent. Some recent decisions by BMW may seem to indicate that the brand has forgot what the Ultimate Driving Machine means, but the 2023 M340i dispels that fear. The chassis and the way the car responds to input is truly excellent. I understood everything that was happening from the returns via the steering wheel. I was confident enough to take corners 15-20 mph faster than I would have and didn’t wonder if the front end would crash without warning.
The mild-hybrid system acts almost like a second turbocharger that’s always boosted. Passing slow-moving vehicles on two-lane roads is amazingly easy. And the exhaust note is glorious. BMW’s straight-six has always had a nice voice, but I didn’t expect it to pop and rumble on deceleration. It’s a fun touch, especially on a hybrid, and it definitely turns heads. The performance level is so high that a few years ago it could have been an M3.
2023 BMW 3 Series: new styling and features
The 3 Series gets styling and technology updates for 2023. The 330i and 330e get sporty new bumpers front and rear, with gloss black air intakes in front of the front wheels; the headlights and DRLs are slimmer with a more chiseled look.
The 2023 330i and 330e are available with the M Sport Appearance Pack. You get M-specific front and rear aprons, 19-inch alloy wheels and a honeycomb pattern on the front grille. It’s not just all show, either – the M Sport pack brings adaptive suspension and sports steering.
You’ll really be able to tell the 2023 M340i apart from the rest of the lineup, thanks to its more aggressive styling all around, from a mesh design on the kidney grilles to the M-specific and 18-inch (or 19-in) tailpipes. -inch option) M split-spoke wheels.
The interior also gets an overhaul. As with so many new vehicles, the 3 Series ditches its separate instrument cluster and infotainment screen and replaces them with a large curved panel housing two screens. BMW has updated the 3 Series infotainment system with the latest iDrive 8 operating system, running on a 14.9-inch screen, as well as a 12.3-inch screen behind the steering wheel. Thinner air vents and a tiny rocker-shaped gear selector help make the interior sleeker and more minimalist.
The 2023 BMW 3 Series is on sale now. The base 330i starts at $43,295; the 330th adds $1,000. You have to pay to play when it comes to the M340i, which starts at $55,845. Add $2,000 to add xDrive all-wheel drive to any trim. All prices listed here include BMW’s $995 destination charge.
It’s great to see BMW keeping the sports sedan alive with the 3 Series. the next electric vehicle revolution we hope that a future all-electric 3 Series can continue this effort. Until then, the 2023 3 Series does a great job of living up to the brand’s legend.
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