It doesn't look different from other facelifted 3 Series models, but the latest update introduces 48V mild hybrid tech to some engines and improves the infotainment system.

Following its mid-life facelift towards the end of 2022, BMW has now updated the 3 Series once again. This revision doesn’t look much different to the outgoing model, but the in-car tech gets a new operating system and mild-hybrid functionality is added to some variants.

Since it first landed in South Africa in 2019, the seventh-generation BMW 3 Series (G20) has maintained this model’s following among local buyers, based on merit rather than mere brand loyalty. It returned to overall dynamic excellence after a few years of mere adequacy, and introduced a host of semi-autonomous driver aids and new in-car tech to BMW’s least-oversized RWD model.

It would have been logical to assume that the G20’s mid-life facelift in 2022 would have been the extent of this successful car’s updates, with revised styling outside, improved engines, added equipment, and BMW’s latest curved instrument display being applied to this signature model. All that would have been just fine to see this model through to the end of its lifecycle, but BMW had yet more changes in store for the 3 Series.

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The latest iDrive system to feature in a 3 Series fortunately still offers a rotary controller, although the infotainent screen is touch-sensitive as well.

New operating system for 2024

While the curved dashboard screen remains unchanged, the software behind it gets an update to the latest BMW in-car operating system (BMW Operating System 8.5). This introduces an upgraded BMW iDrive with QuickSelect, which features a more intuitive menu structure, and extends navigation functionality through augmented reality.

That’s about it inside the car, however, bar redesigned steering wheels, expanded use of crystal decorative bits, and some new upholstery options. The steering wheels still front paddle shifters, and 3-zone climate control is standard in all variants - both items were added during the 2022 facelift.

Read more about the BMW 3 Series facelift in our 2022 launch report.

Only a trained eye will notice the new steering wheel, but the new operating system should make the 3 Series more user friendly.

Invisible upgrades

BMWs have features stop/start technology for years already, but some engine choices now gain a 48-volt starter-generator unit for a bit of extra shove. This belt-driven unit can start the engine quicker than before, and adds up to 8 kW in short bursts for improved responsiveness.

Only the 2.0-litre turbo diesel in the 320d (140 kW/400 Nm) and the 3.0-litre turbo petrol (285 kW/500 Nm) in the M340i xDrive will offer this 48V mild hybrid system locally. This leaves the three existing 2.0-litre four-cylinder petrol derivatives (318i, 320i and 330i) to still make do with the older-generation energy recovery system.

The G20 BMW 330i offers a superb combination of performance, efficiency, comfort, and technology.

BMW still doesn’t want to bring the fourth 2.0-litre turbo petrol configuration to South Africa however. International markets also receive a 330e drivetrain, which combines the 320i’s engine (135 kW and 300 Nm) with a 50 kW plug-in hybrid system to deliver 185 kW and 420 Nm. This is likely due to possible competition with the 330i, which has 190 kW and 400 Nm on tap from its non-hybrid power unit and isn’t much thirstier in real-world driving.

Handling should be even better than before, too. From the outset, the G20 3 Series offered sparkling driving dynamics, but BMW nonetheless decided to fettle it slightly with this update. The familiar dual-stage front shock absorbers and hydraulic rear bump stops remain, but the rear strut top mountings have been reinforced for even greater driving precision.

Curious about the different types of hybrid powertrain? This article will explain it all!

Still recognisably a BMW, there's also no doubt that the latest 3 Series has grown considerably from its lithe, compact ancestors.

BMW 3 Series prices

The 3 Series range currently opens at R 828 321 for the unadorned 318i, and peaks at R 1 364 607 for the M340i xDrive. Sensible money will probably be content with the 320d, especially since the 330d was dropped in 2022.

These prices were accurate at the time of publication, but will doubtless have increased by the time the updated 3 Series arrives in South Africa in 2024’s fourth quarter. A future of entry-level 3 Series cars costing a million bucks is creeping ever closer.

Martin Pretorius


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