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New BMW 3 Series drops diesel as part of 2024 facelift

The facelifted BMW 3 Series saloon and Touring estate look towards an electrified future, with the plug-in hybrid now getting a 63-mile EV range

BMW has finally brought the fight to Mercedes with a range of updates for its popular 3 Series range, designed to pique the interest of company car drivers looking to lower their annual tax bill. Among the BMW 3 Series changes is a bigger battery for the 330e plug-in hybrid, which now boasts a 63-mile zero-emission range.

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This officially marks the 3 Series’ second mid-life facelift – the first of which was implemented almost exactly two years ago. However, this time around the tweaks are mostly mechanical; visual changes are limited to some new paint options, alloy wheel choices and interior fabrics. 

For this round of updates, BMW (in the UK, at least) has ditched diesel completely, slimming down the engine range to offer just two petrols and a plug-in hybrid. The 320i and 330e are available in Sport and M Sport specs, with the flagship M340i standing proud as a trim level in its own right.

The big news, however, is the introduction of that new, bigger battery for the 330e PHEV. Combined power output of the petrol engine and electric motor still stands at 288bhp, but the new 19.5kWh high-voltage battery allows for a range of 63 miles (101km). BMW says the “high energy density” brings about a “major increase in system efficiency” – with no compromise to cabin space or practicality. 

Those numbers mean CO2 emissions drop to as little as 19g/km depending on exact specification, with quoted combined fuel economy of up to 313.9mpg. The extended electric range gives it an eight-per cent Benefit in Kind (BiK) company car tax rating, though Merc’s bigger-battery C 300 e sneaks into the lower five-per cent bracket. 

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The 330e’s system now allows for far faster 11kW three-phase charging, meaning owners can top up the larger battery from empty to full in two hours and 15 minutes. BMW doesn’t quote a time for a more conventional 7kW home wallbox, but we expect the same top-up to take between three and four hours charging this way.

BMW claims the car’s chassis has undergone “rigorous development work”, too, apparently resulting in a “notable increase in comfort across all driving situations, without any loss of the customary 3 Series dynamic prowess”. The maker says refinement gets a boost, too.

Inside, BMW has fitted its latest Operating System 8.5 for the infotainment system – as seen on the recently-updated 4 Series Coupe and Convertible. This set-up uses ‘Quickselect’ buttons, which BMW says “optimised operation of the ventilation and climate control functions”. The 3 Series has no physical climate switches; the system is fully integrated within the central touchscreen, or operated via voice control.

Elsewhere, the revised 3 Series gets new steering wheel designs and interior trim elements, as well as ‘cascade’ interior lighting that can be adjusted for colour and brightness. New Sensatec perforated fabric is available for the seats, while the optional Vernasca leather is now offered in four colourways.

As recently seen on the new 5 Series, BMW has launched a selection of M Performance parts, to give the look of the full-fat M cars, but in a more affordable package. These include a carbon fibre grille, splitter and mirror caps, as well as sills, spoilers and diffusers.

Prices (without on-the-road costs, which are still to be confirmed) start from £39,045 for the 320i Sport saloon, with M Sport trim commanding a £1,250 premium. The plug-in hybrid 330e starts from £46,080 (again, without OTR costs), while the M340i xDrive costs £57,845. Touring models cost an extra £1,800 regardless of engine or trim choice.

BMW says production of the updated 3 Series and 3 Series Touring will start in July, with European cars continuing to be built at the firm’s home plant in Munich, Germany.

The high-performance M3 Competition has also been given a refresh for 2024, with a 20bhp power hike and new colours inspired by the maker’s range of CS cars.

Click here for our list of the best executive cars...

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Deputy editor

Richard has been part of the team for over a decade. During this time he has covered a huge amount of news and reviews for Auto Express, as well as being the face of Carbuyer and DrivingElectric on Youtube. In his current role as deputy editor, he is now responsible for keeping our content flowing and managing our team of talented writers.

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