February 23, 2024


BMW updated the styling of the 3 Series for the 2023 model year, continuing the seventh-generation 3 Series that went on sale in 2019. Happily, the updates didn’t include widening the beaver teeth or weakening the M model.

at first glance

  • Body updates are minimal and well done
  • Rich interior upgrades, focus on infotainment
  • Ride quality and engagement are good
  • Older compared to competitors but still competitive

Most of the changes in the updated 3 Series are minor changes to the dashboard and changes to the infotainment system. Exterior changes include a slightly wider grille, less complex headlight clusters, and sharper angles to the bumper edges. Inside, the gauge cluster fits into a single shell for better visibility, and the touchscreen gets slightly larger because there are fewer buttons on the dash. BMW has also updated the voice-activated intelligent personal assistant for more functionality.

This infographic from BMW highlights the big changes to the BMW 3 Series' interior
This infographic from BMW highlights the big changes to the BMW 3 Series’ interior

BMW

The digital instrument cluster is now 12.3 inches and shares a curved monocoque with the 14.9-inch infotainment screen. This makes them appear to be one large integrated screen that spans the left two-thirds of the dashboard. In reality, it’s two screens that appear to blend together. However, the curves mean the instrument cluster is more pronounced in this larger size, and the infotainment screen is more than twice the size of before.

The new features include all functions found in BMW’s new iDrive 8 system. That means a more casual voice control system and lots of useful features like preset buttons for pretty much anything. They can be for radio stations, waypoints, phone numbers, or any combination. The increased space in the center console for this and the accompanying (optional use) command knob is due to the removal of the shift knob. It’s push-button now, bringing the 3 Series in line with the rest of the BMW range, which has moved to push-button shifters this generation.

The new 3 Series is offered in three small luxury sedan configurations. The base model was the 330i, followed by the 330e and the M340i. We drove the latter, which has an upgraded engine and more sport-oriented amenities. The standard engine in the 3 Series is a turbocharged four-cylinder that makes 255 horsepower (190 kilowatts) through an eight-speed automatic transmission that drives the rear wheels. All-wheel drive is an option. The 330e model adds a plug-in hybrid system and has an electric-only range of about 22 miles.

The M340i is the sporty version of the small luxury sedan. It swapped out the four-cylinder for a turbocharged six-cylinder producing 382 horsepower (285 kilowatts). It also brings larger wheels, an aero package, M Sport suspension, a rear differential and brakes, and an integrated rear spoiler. This improves the 0-60 mph (0-92 km/h) sprint time from around 5.7 seconds on the base model to less than 5 seconds on the M340i.

Like most BMW models, the 2023 M340i handles very well, and the interior is quiet and smooth. The road isn’t erased from the experience, it’s just softened so it’s less jarring. The M340i feels good to drive, combining the comfort, luxury and sportiness most BMW buyers expect.

The new technology interface is a big change this year. The bigger screen and the shifting of functions from the dashboard to the screen is a big change for BMW. The speech system, while much better at understanding and functioning than the previous generation, is still a bit clumsy. Completely devoid of personality, no Easter eggs that we could find, no functionality other than basic “tune the radio to this” or “navigate there”. It can do several things, but most of them aren’t things people would do on the go. For example, comfort settings are usually a “set and forget” thing for most of us. Drive modes are a more tactile thing, and we’re more likely to toggle the switch (available near the shifter button) than ask for it. Few people would change the radio volume by asking, when a quick gesture or a tap of the knob (included) works better.

Small luxury sedans are a hot market, and the 2023 BMW M340i is a solid choice in the segment
Small luxury sedans are a hot market, and the 2023 BMW M340i is a solid choice in the segment

Aaron Turpen / New Atlas

But the technology in the new BMW 3 Series is better at listening to commands and responding accordingly. The lag time of the previous generation is largely gone, so it’s much more responsive. Bigger screens are clearer and easier to use. Ultimately, though, BMW is still catching up to archrival Mercedes-Benz when it comes to voice infotainment.

Compared with other small luxury sedans on the market, the 2023 BMW M340i looks old. However, it’s not far behind other options. In terms of power and gravitas, the 3 Series holds its own. It’s just the details that make this one laugh.

The 2023 BMW 330i starts at around $43,300, while the M340i model starts around $58,000.

Product page: 2023 BMW M340i