When it comes to compact sports sedans, the BMW 3 Series has long been the benchmark. And the automaker is ready to put out an extensive midcycle update of the 3 Series this year — can it deliver?
For fans of compact sports sedans, it’s always big news when an update of the BMW 3 Series arrives. And the Bavarian carmaker today pulled the wraps off a midcycle update of the seventh-generation 3 Series. In many ways, it has just as much to prove as the original sedan did back in 1975.
Competition is getting fierce. There are the classic rivals, Mercedes-Benz just rolling out an all-new version of its C-Class sedan, as well as upstarts like Genesis, with its well-reviewed G70 line.
Set to go on sale in July, the updated 2023 BMW 3 Series gets a makeover to both its exterior and interior design, along with plenty of new technology. That includes a new curved gauge and infotainment system that stretches across the instrument panel.
2023 BMW 3 Series: Skirting Controversy
There’s been plenty of controversy emerging from the BMW design studios over the last few years, much of it centered around the grilles on new products like the latest 4-Series and the all-electric iX.
Traditionalists will likely sigh in relief that the 2023 3 Series retains a more traditional take on the double-kidney grille — framed by new LED headlamps and running lights — though it adds a rather large lower grille and additional air curtain intakes by each front corner.
The hood picks up a series of crisp lines intended to emphasize the power lurking just below. But there are few changes to the side profile. A look at the back end reveals a new bumper and larger diffuser, along with chrome trapezoid exhaust finishers.
There will be several variations on the new theme, with unique M Sport and M Performance packages.
Interior Upgrade: Curved Display
While the exterior update may be evolutionary, there are more revolutionary changes happening inside. The gas-powered 3 Series now picks up the Curved Display technology first seen in the electric i3 eDrive 35L.
It incorporates both a 12.3-inch digital gauge cluster and a 14.9-inch infotainment display behind a single sheet of glass dominating the upper instrument panel.
There are now just a handful of traditional, mechanical controls — most vehicle functions are accessible through the infotainment screen. But, along with a volume knob, the 2023 3 Series retains the familiar BMW iDrive controller sitting to the right of the e-shifter on the center console.
That shifter controls an 8-speed Sport Automatic transmission, the only gearbox offered for the 2023 3 Series — at least for now.
3 Series Powertrain Options
At launch, look for BMW to retain the existing powertrain lineup, a mix of turbocharged 4- and 6-cylinder engines. The M340i is powered by a mild hybrid pairing a 48-volt starter-generator with a 3L inline-six.
The system is expected to boost fuel economy but, says BMW, it “also offers the driver an electric boost effect that can instantly give the engine sharper response when accelerating off the line or putting in a quick burst of speed for passing, and significantly refines the operation of the automatic start/stop function.”
The mild-hybrid will be offered in either rear-drive or, with the M340i xDrive, an all-wheel-drive layout.
The heart of the lineup will be the 330i and plug-in hybrid 330e models — both available in rear and all-wheel-drive, as well. BMW did not yet release final engine specs or fuel economy numbers, nor the all-electric range for the PHEV.
But the updated sedan is expected to deliver anywhere from 255 to 500 horsepower once the full M package comes to market. And the PHEV reportedly will offer as much as 20 miles of range in all-electric mode.
New Operating System
A number of new technologies will be added to the 2023 BMW 3 Series, including the new Operating System 8 for the infotainment system. It ups its processing speed and adds future connectivity capabilities, according to the automaker. And it now offers an Alexa-like Intelligent Personal Assistant capable of interacting with a motorist in natural speech.
Up to 10 digital devices will be able to connect to the updated sedan’s new Wi-Fi hotspot as well.
2023 BMW 3 Series Pricing
Pricing hasn’t been released but is expected to start at around $42,000. If accurate, that would undercut the newly updated Mercedes C300 by about $2,000.
All U.S. versions of the 2023 BMW 3 Series will be produced in Mexico.
We can’t wait to get behind the wheel and share our experience with you, but until that happens you can find out more about the BMW 3 Series online.