2023 BMW 330i xDrive
The Standard Bearer Is Still Bearing The Standard
The BMW 3-Series has been a luxury sport sedan standard bearer for most of its 7 generations. Well, it’s not time for an all-new 8th gen just yet, but BMW has done some significant updating to this current sedan. So, let’s see how they’re staying ahead of the curve.
While it’s easy to see the slow decline in sedan sales continuing as SUVs take up more and more market share, it’s also easy for us to always see a place for the European style sport sedan. If not in dealer showrooms, certainly in our motor oil pumping hearts. 2023 sees an updated BMW 3 Series sedan with better looks, better tech, and better performance.
Never satisfied to leave well enough alone, BMW has again tweaked the 3’s face, with slimmer headlights, ever more prominent air intakes, and yet another take on their classic twin kidney grille. There are multiple M Sport packages available, adding 19-inch M Sport wheels to replace the standard 18s, adaptive suspension, variable sport steering, M Sport brakes with blue calipers, and black trim.
Ever since they crammed a 2.0-liter M10 into 1968’s 2002, BMW has seemingly been on a mission to maximize 4-cylinder power delivery and reliability. Their latest 2.0-liter turbo-4 in the 330i outputs 255-horsepower and 295-lb-ft. of torque. The 382-horsepower 6-cylinder remains available in the M340i, and there’s a 288-horsepower 330e PHEV as well.
This 2.0-liter is paired with the familiar 8-speed automatic transmission; the entire package is smooth and punches above its weight, delivering big hits of torque off the line with barely a hint of turbo lag. We hit 60 in 5.1-seconds with the help of launch control.
The ¼-mile passed in 13.7-seconds at 102 miles-per-hour. The engine sounded powerful and aggressive as it eagerly revved to redline, where each shift of the automatic transmission gave a nice little surge of additional power. xDrive all-wheel-drive is optional and not only does it provide extra grip for launching, but additional traction when it comes to handling as well. With the M Sport package, the suspension feels tight and the ride is quite firm; perhaps a bit much for our aging bodies, but you won’t be complaining when scooting down your favorite driving road, or shuffling through a handling course. It felt ever more athletic when whipping in and out of the cones of our slalom, with just a hint of understeer showing up at its limits. Steering is incredibly quick, but still has an artificial feel that takes some getting used to. There is very little body roll to contend with. In our braking runs, a nice firm pedal and great overall stability made for quick 103 foot stops from 60, rock steady all the way.
BMW has truly upped their interior comfort game in recent years, and everything inside this updated 3 looks great and feels nicely finished. Twin screens, 12.3-inches behind the steering wheel for instruments, and 14.9-inch for infotainment, now flow into one another as part of BMW’s curved dash display. While it works well enough, this latest iDrive 8 may be a step back, as very few manual controls remain, and you seemingly have to do more menu diving than before for anything other than basic climate and audio controls. Dash vents are now slimmer, and the console gets a redesign with, for better or worse, a new toggle lever instead of an actual shifter for controlling the transmission. Steering wheel-mounted shifters are also standard; M Sport adds a unique wheel and aluminum trim, with Harmon Kardon sound optional.
Front seats are firm but adequately comfortable, there’s a good amount of room for rear seat passengers, and a great 16.9 cubic-ft. of trunk space.
Pricing starts at $45,495 for the 330i, 2-grand more for all-wheel drive; the 330e plug-in is just above that at $46,595, with the top 340i coming in at $58,595.
BMW essentially created the sport sedan as we know it back in the 1960s. And while you don’t have to spend this kind of money to get a great driving experience these days, the 2023 BMW 3 Series still delivers perhaps the best mix of performance, luxury, tech, and even comfort, in a 4-door sedan package that an awful lot of people, including us, still adore.
- Engine: 2.0-liter turbo-4
- Horsepower: 255
- 0-60 mph: 5.1 seconds
- 60-0 Braking: 103 feet (avg)
- Transmission: 8-speed auto
- Torque: 295 lb-ft.
- 1/4 Mile: 13.7-seconds at 102 mph
- EPA: 24 City / 33 Highway / 27 Combined