The 2023 BMW 3-Series strikes a balance with a sporty nature in its base forms and evolves into a track powerhouse as an M3. The BMW 3-Series stands as the standard for compact sport sedans. It’s a delightful drive in its base version and the M3 variants elevate performance to track-ready levels. It competes against deserving rivals such as the Audi A4 and Mercedes-Benz C-Class.
The 3-Series is the one to defeat with its exceptional blend of ride, handling, and luxury. The 3-Series receives a subtle update for 2023 following its redesign in 2019. Most models feature slight changes to the front and a larger new touchscreen interface. The M3 does not receive these updates but introduces a new top-of-the-line M3 CSL model.
The 3-Series retains its graceful styling with the recent updates. It continues to exude charm while BMW opts for an excessively bold approach with the tall twin-kidney grille of the M3. BMW adjusts the front end design of the 2023 3-Series. The headlights are slightly narrower, the grille is fine-tuned, and the outboard air intakes sport a more upright shape. The overall appearance is quite graceful and traditional for the brand. The elongated bonnet and compact rear of any 3-Series are emblematic of classic sport sedan design. The intricate details include an ascending shoulder line, a side character line that kicks up at the rear, and subtle bulges over the wheels.
The BMW 3-Series offers an enjoyable driving experience and presents an excellent equilibrium between ride and handling, and it delivers commendable power even in its standard form. The 3-Series comes equipped with rear-wheel drive as standard, and every model provides xDrive all-wheel drive. The base 330i is powered by a 2.0-liter turbo-4 generating 255 hp and propelling the car from 0-60 mph in 5.6 seconds. It comes with a responsive and seamless 8-speed automatic transmission that serves all models except the base M3, which features a 6-speed manual.
The 330e employs the same engine as the 330i but combines it with a 111-hp electric motor. The two outputs do not directly stack, but the motor enhances the total output to 288 hp. The 330e is a plug-in hybrid with an electric driving range of 23 miles. It accelerates to 60 mph as swiftly as the 330i, and the additional electric power aids at low speeds. However, we have observed up to 27 miles of electric range.
As always, the 3-Series exudes sportiness, even with its base suspension. It has expanded in size over the years but remains agile in corners, carving them with stable confidence while delivering a comfortable ride. The steering in each model is light and agile to the point of being twitchy. The double-jointed front strut suspension and five-link rear suspension keep the tires grounded and offer rapid responses to steering inputs. The vehicle exhibits minimal lean through corners, and the tires provide exceptional traction.
The 3-Series demonstrates efficiency for its power even without requiring a plug-in. The rear-wheel-drive 330e model achieves an EPA combined rating of 28 MPG combined on gas and 75 MPGe in mixed driving with 23 miles of all-electric range. Meanwhile, the all-wheel-drive xDrive model reduces the ratings to 25 MPG combined on gas and 68 MPGe with 20 miles of all-electric range.
While the BMW 3-Series achieves good crash-test scores, some of its safety features are offered as optional. It garners excellent crash-test ratings and offers strong outward visibility. The 2023 BMW 3-Series receives the highest rating of five stars overall from the NHTSA, securing perfect five-star ratings in every category. The IIHS also awards the 3-Series top scores in all crash tests, but has yet to acknowledge it for a Top Safety Pick or Top Safety Pick+ award due to pending headlight testing. BMW equips the 3-Series with standard automatic emergency braking, automatic high beams, and front and rear parking sensors. Buyers can also choose active blind-spot monitors, active lane control, adaptive cruise control, automatic parking, and a surround-view camera system.
The 3-Series instills confidence in drivers. The interior showcases a low-set dashboard with a new screen treatment. The expansive dual screens provide ample space for displays and controls. Some of these controls are integrated into the touchscreen, such as the climate controls situated along the bottom of the screen. The upper dashboard is adorned with soft-touch synthetic leather, and the lower dashboard features wood, aluminum, or carbon-fiber trim. In its standard black color, it all appears quite understated, but selecting a lighter or brighter color (including red, mocha, and cognac) makes the interior more captivating and/or sporty.
BMW excels in creating a commanding driver position, with a low-seated arrangement in supportive well-contoured seats, even in the base variant. The rear seat cushions are positioned away from the doors to ensure both style and side-impact crash safety. This leaves minimal space for a central passenger. Rear headroom and legroom are sufficient for individuals up to 6-feet tall, but taller occupants may find the space restrictive. The trunk features a generous 17.0 cubic feet of cargo space, enhanced by split-folding rear seats.
BMW offers a 3-Series tailored to appeal to a wide range of customers. They are all sporty and come in an array of variants. They are comprehensively equipped, with an extensive range of options, excellent infotainment, and a strong warranty. The 330e starts at $45,895, and includes synthetic leather upholstery, power-adjustable sport seats with driver’s seat memory, ambient lighting, a sunroof, satellite radio, a 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster, a 14.9-inch touchscreen, navigation, wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, and 18-inch alloy wheels as standard. Every 3-Series comes with a strong 4-year/50,000-mile warranty, along with 3 years/36,000 miles of complimentary scheduled maintenance.
The 2023 BMW 330e has truly achieved new levels with its updated exterior and interior styling. The 330e preserves all the core elements that define it as a 3-Series while injecting newfound levels of efficiency. When driven responsibly around town, we observed nearly 30 miles of all-electric range while still being able to enjoy exhilarating drives on winding back roads. Therefore, if your commute is relatively short and you are not ready to forfeit driving dynamics, there is no better choice.
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