The 2023 BMW 3-Series balances a sporty character with a smooth ride in base forms and turns into a track beast as an M3. The BMW 3-Series is the benchmark compact sport sedan. It’s fun to drive in its base form and its M3 variants push performance to track-ready levels. It takes on worthy rivals such as the Audi A4 and Mercedes-Benz C-Class.
With its exemplary balance of ride, handling, and luxury, the 3-Series is the one to beat. The 3-Series gets a slight refresh for 2023 after its 2019 redesign. New for most models are slight changes to the nose and a larger new touchscreen interface. The M3 doesn’t get those updates, but adds a new line-topping M3 CSL model.
The 3-Series retains elegant styling with the new updates. It remains handsome while BMW goes for overly bold in the tall twin-kidney grille of the M3. BMW tweaks the front end design of the 2023 3-Series. The headlights are slightly slimmer, the grille is tweaked, and the outboard air intakes get a more upright shape. It all looks quite elegant and traditional for the brand. The long nose and short deck of any 3-Series is classic sport sedan design. The details include a rising shoulder line, a character line along the side that kicks up at the rear, and subtle haunches over the wheels.
The BMW 3-Series is fun to drive and offers a fantastic balance of ride and handling, and it has good power even in its base form. The 3-Series comes standard with rear-wheel drive and every model offers xDrive all-wheel drive. The base 330i features a 2.0-liter turbo-4 that makes 255 hp and pushes the car from 0-60 mph in 5.6 seconds. It comes with a quick-acting and smooth-shifting 8-speed automatic transmission that serves all models but the base M3, which has a 6-speed manual.
The 330e gets the same engine as the 330i but pairs it with a 111-hp electric motor. The two ratings don’t stack exactly, but the motor increases total output to 288 hp. The 330e is a plug-in hybrid with 23 miles of electric driving range. It’s as quick to 60 mph as the 330i and the added electric power helps at low speeds. We have seen up to 27 miles of electric range, however.
As always, the 3-Series is sporty, even with its base suspension. It’s grown larger over the years but still remains tossable in corners, carving them up with a stable confidence while delivering a smooth ride. The steering in every model is light and quick to the point of twitchy. The double-jointed front strut suspension and five-link rear suspension keep the tires on the pavement and provide quick responses to steering inputs. The car leans little through corners and the tires provide excellent traction.
The 3-Series is efficient for its power even without plugging it in. The rear-wheel-drive 330e model earns 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 lowers the ratings to 25 MPG combined on gas and 68 MPGe with 20 miles of all electric range.
While the BMW 3-Series posts good crash-test scores, although some of its safety features are optional. It gets very good crash-test ratings and offers good outward visibility. The 2023 BMW 3-Series gets the best rating of five stars overall from the NHTSA, with perfect five-star ratings in every category. The IIHS also gives 3-Series top scores in all crash tests, but has yet to recognize it for a Top Safety Pick or Top Safety Pick+ award because it hasn’t yet tested the headlights. BMW outfits the 3-Series with standard automatic emergency braking, automatic high beams, and front and rear parking sensors. Buyers can also opt for active blind-spot monitors, active lane control, adaptive cruise control, automatic parking, and a surround-view camera system.
The 3-Series makes drivers feel confidently in charge. The interior features a low-set dash with a new screen treatment. The large dual screens provide a lot of real estate for displays and controls. Some of those controls get absorbed into the touchscreen like the climate controls that sit along the bottom of the screen. The upper dash is covered in soft-touch synthetic leather, and the lower dash features wood, aluminum, or carbon-fiber trim. It’s all rather subdued in standard black, but opt for a lighter or brighter color (including red, mocha, and cognac) and the interior looks more interesting and/or sportier.
BMW has a knack for making the driver feel in charge, with a low-slung seating position in supportive well-bolstered seats, even at the base level. The rear seat cushions are set away from the doors as a concession to both style and side-impact crashworthiness. That leaves little room for a middle passenger. Rear headroom and legroom are fine for 6-footers, but anyone taller will be challenged for space. The trunk’s roomy 17.0 cubic feet of cargo space is enhanced by split-folding rear seats.
BMW makes a 3-Series to appeal to a wide variety of customers. All are sporty and they come in a variety of flavors. They’re all well-equipped, with a wide range of options, good infotainment, and an excellent warranty. The 330e starts at $45,895, and comes standard with 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. Every 3-Series comes with a good 4-year/50,000-mile warranty with 3 years/36,000 miles of free scheduled maintenance.
The 2023 BMW 330e has truly reached new heights with its new updated exterior and interior styling. The 330e retains all of the fundamentals that make it a 3-series while infusing newfound levels of efficiency. Driven judiciously around town we saw almost 30 miles of all-electric range while still being able to hustle grin-inducing twisty back roads. So, if you’re commute is on the smaller side but you’re not ready given up driving dynamics, there is no better choice.