Sixteen years ago, the BMW 3 Series reached its yearly sales peak as an entry-level luxury compact sedan. It was stylish, featured top-line technology and combined keen driving characteristics with prestige.
The vehicle’s lineup was three years old and was purchased 142,488 times in 2007. It has surpassed 140,000 in yearly sales only twice since and the figure has drastically stumbled in recent years. The 3 Series tally was only slightly more than 30,000 last year.
And while no longer BMW’s top-seller, the BMW 3 Series, notably the 2023 330i, remains vital among the ever-increasing competition. Acura, Audi, Cadillac, Kia Genesis, Lexus, Mercedes-Benz, Volkswagen and Volvo all offer formidable rivals, with some brands featuring more than one choice in the segment.
The 330i is categorized as a compact entry-level vehicle in the 3 Series, but it’s far removed from its designation. It had a starting price of about $42,000, a few thousand dollars less than the average price of a new car in the United States. The 3 Series extends to the M Competition with its carbon-ceramic brakes and carbon-fiber front seats and with a price approaching $100,000.
For less than half the top-line price the 330i is standard equipped with a turbocharged 2.0-liter, 4-cylinder engine with 255 horsepower, 295 lb-ft of torque and an 8-speed automatic transmission. Rear-wheel drive is standard, all-wheel drive is optional.
Gas mileage averages for the 2023 BMW 330i via the EPA are 26 miles per gallon in city driving and 34 mpg with rear-wheel-drive and 25 and 34 mpg with all-wheel-drive. Acceleration is smooth and quiet, with 0-60 mph achieved in 5.6 with real-wheel-drive and in 5.4 seconds with all-wheel-drive.
Statistics aside, the 2023 BMW 330i’s strength is rare among new cars. It’s immediately comfortable, another pleasant surprise considering compact sedans’ common trait, compromise. The 300i is roomy. The rear seat legroom is 35.2 inches. The 40/20/40 split folding rear seats allow for long, slender cargo via the mid-seat pass-through. The trunk measures 17 cubic feet.
Unlike the BMW M series with hideously restricted bolster racing front seats, the 330i accentuates comfort. Supportive and handsomely upholstered, driving or riding in the sedan is welcoming. A long-distance haul in an entry-live compact sedan could be problematic, but not in the 330i
Standard features also include: 18-inch alloy wheels, full LED headlights, rain-sensing wipers, heated side mirrors (self-dimming on the driver’s side), simulated leather upholstery and a leather-wrapped steering wheel. The material quality is strong and attractive, further adding to the vehicle’s overall comfort.
Selectable driving modes, 3-zone automatic climate control, power-adjustable front seats, self-dimming rearview mirror, powered moonroof and multi-colored ambient cabin lighting and also standard.
Some competitors have more driving aids, but the 330i includes important functions including automatic high beams and forward collision warning with automatic emergency braking.
The infotainment setup includes Apple CarPlay/Android Auto smartphone integration, satellite radio, two USB ports, Bluetooth, navigation, voice control and a 10-speaker/205-watt Harmon Kardon audio system.
The M Sport Package ($3,100) offers 19-inch wheels, upgraded steering, sport suspension as well ad Ash Grey wood trim and an Anthracite headliner. The Premium Package ($1,350) heated front/rear seats, a heated steering wheel, gesture control for the infotainment system and keyless entry/ignition.
Convenience upgrades in the Parking Assistance Package ($770) include a self-parking function, a 360-degree camera system, Active Blind Spot Detection, and lane-departure warning. The Active Driving Assistant had lane-keeping, evasive steering assistance, adaptive cruise control, extended traffic jam assist and front cross-traffic alert.
The iDrive 8 infotainment collection is offered with a new feature, a curved 12.3-inch driver information display and a 14.9-inch center display. The navigation system includes BMW maps and voice commands. Satellite radio with a one-year subscription is also included.
Supply chain issues and fluctuating price indexes haven’t been kind to the auto industry. The average price of a 2023 vehicle in the United States is hovering around $49,000. With its options, the reviewed 2023 BMW 330i was priced at $51,390.
Bargain pricing is never associated with BMW. The 2023 BMW 330i is an exception.