The current-generation BMW 3 Series gets a mid-cycle update for 2023, with sales to begin this summer. The changes, both inside and out, are not insignificant.
The 3 Series is still a key pillar for the German brand, representing around 14 percent of its global sales. Designers have made sure to give it a proper refresh to hopefully attract even more customers.
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Sportier-looking bumpers can be found across the lineup. The front one boasts larger intakes in a high-gloss black finish. The grille, which is not ridiculously oversized like on some other BMW models, features double bars and a slightly modified contour. The headlights are slimmer and the daytime driving lights are arranged in an inverted L-shape, with the outer elements also serving as turn indicators.
Brand new 18-inch light-alloy wheels highlight the side view, while the range of exterior colours now includes Skyscraper Grey metallic on all models and Brooklyn Grey metallic (pictured here) on the M340i xDrive or in combination with the M Sport package. The latter includes a revised rear bumper with vertical reflectors at the outer edges and a large diffuser in the centre.
Speaking of the M340i xDrive, that model gets a mesh-design kidney grille, new 19-inch M double-spoke light alloy wheels, trapezoidal tailpipes and a body-coloured M rear spoiler. Furthermore, to mark the 50th anniversary of BMW M, the car will be offered with the classic BMW Motorsport roundels on the hood, trunk and wheel centre caps.
Welcome to the Big Screen
That being said, the most important evolution of the 2023 BMW 3 Series is found inside. Similar to the automaker’s i4, i7 and iX electric vehicles, the compact sedan gets a large curved display. In the process, the number of physical buttons is reduced including for climate settings (though the controls are always displayed on the main screen) and the voice-activated BMW Intelligent Personal Assistant takes on a bigger role. We like the fact that it can understand natural speech.
A 12.3-inch information display behind the steering wheel and a 14.9-inch touchscreen merge into a single, fully digital, high-resolution unit behind a frameless glass surface that is angled slightly towards the driver. The graphics and menu structure have been designed with a smartphone-style appearance. The user interface also impresses with striking forms, dynamic light effects and strong depth of colour. Of course, its layout can be adapted to the driving situation at hand or personal preferences.
Another pleasant surprise is the new eighth-gen iDrive 8 infotainment system powering the interface. It offers more user-friendly operation and faster data processing. Meanwhile, the navigation system fitted as standard includes the cloud-based BMW Maps. It enables very fast and dynamic route calculation based on precise real-time traffic data transmitted at short intervals.
On the centre console, you’ll notice that the shifter for the eight-speed sport automatic transmission has been replaced by a new toggle lever for a cleaner look and simpler manipulation. Shift paddles are still found on the steering wheel.
Finally, the turbocharged four- and six-cylinder engine options return along with a plug-in hybrid variant (330e xDrive) providing 32 kilometres of EV range. In all cases, AWD comes standard.
Canadian pricing for the 2023 BMW 3 Series starts at $52,750. The explosive M3 will also receive the curved display with iDrive 8 but is not slated to change beyond that.