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It’s been a hot minute since the BWM 3 Series got a facelift. So, while many people already anticipate one coming for the 2023 model year, we may have just gotten a bit of confirmation. Interestingly enough, it comes in the form of an electrified version of itself. Don’t get too excited, though, because the pictured EV is likely not for U.S. soil.

China is getting a 3 Series EV to combat the Tesla Model 3

White 2022 BMW 330e plug-in hybrid sedan driving down coastal highway at sunset
2022 BMW 330e | BMW

MotorTrend recently released a set of spy photos that seem to show a new 3 Series model out and about. BMW is making an all-electric 3 Series for the Chinese market to compete with the Tesla Model 3. They’re even reviving the i3 namesake. Although, this version is a whole lot more appealing than the original i3.

In the photos, the kidney grilles appear to be panels that simply resemble the look of the iconic BMW front end. This points to this vehicle likely being fully electric, as most EVs have the front-end closed off for aerodynamic advantages. This makes sense because no air needs to enter through the front for a radiator or to cool an engine bay.

The images seem to show that the 3 Series, at least in the case of this alleged EV, is not adopting the massive front grille ensemble that the 4 Series and 7 Series have. Instead, it reserves pretty much the same grille sizing as the current 3 Series.

MotorTrend also suggests that this model will not be coming to the U.S. BMW is currently developing a replacement for the i3 that we got stateside, the iX1. Presumably, that implies that it will lean more toward the crossover and SUV side of things than its outgoing counterpart like the one already available in China. Additionally, the U.S. is getting the BMW i4 full EV sedan. So, there isn’t really a need to add an electric 3 Series.

So, what’s so exciting about this image leak, then? MotorTrend theorizes that this leak is giving us a peek into the styling to come on the new 3 Series sedan. With rumors floating around of a facelift for the 3 Series, this might be our first look at what’s to come.

More aggressive styling and aerodynamics

BMW 3 Series on beach coastal highway with sunset in the bakcground
2022 BMW 3 Series | BMW

Though the grille sizing and structure seem to remain similar, the rest of the front-end gets substantial overall. The lower half of the front bumper has much more jagged and aggressive lines. On each side, there appears to be a large air dam. This is likely to vent air into the brakes to keep them cooler. Otherwise, the vehicle looks essentially the same compared to the current iteration of the 3 Series sedan. Given that, from what these images tell us, the front is really the only changed aesthetic, the term “facelift” is entirely appropriate.

Of course, it’s worth noting that this is all speculative. For all we know, this styling could be exclusive to this EV. We’re really hoping not, though. Adding a bit more aggression to the non-M lineup of BMWs certainly isn’t going to hurt any feelings!


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