BMW or Bavaria Motor Works stopped assembling aircraft engines in 1918 due to a peace treaty after the First World War. This caused the company to shift their attention to motorcycles in 1923 and consequently to automobiles five years after. Among the long line of cars BMW introduced to the fray, arguably the most successful, at least in sales, is the BMW 3-series. The 3-series accounted for 30% in annual total sales. This beloved model featured a well-known trim in recent years: the BMW 323i.
First Generation (1977)
In the 1977 Frankfurt Motor Show, the world saw the unveiling of the first 323i. The naming system of BMW back then was quite obvious. The first number, 3, stood for the series in which the car belongs. And the 23 describes the engine displacement, 2.3 L. The “I” at the end meant “injected” for fuel injected vehicles. The first 323i had 141hp engine, fairly powerful for a compact executive car at that time.
Second Generation (1998-2000)
It took a full 21 years before BMW decided to bring back the 323i trim back in the fold. However, the 323 variant was pretty much alive, even under peculiar circumstances. For instance, with the knowledge of the BMW nomenclature, a supposed successor of the 325 in 1995 sported a 2.5L engine. Nevertheless, it was sold as a 323 instead. Moreover, it seemed that in the next years there won’t be a true 323. In 1998, the introduction of E46 body produced two extra trims for the 323i, namely the 323is coupe and the 323ic convertible. Both packed 168hp 2.5L inline-six engines. In 1999, a four-door sedan was added to the trim. By the entrance of the new millennium, new beginnings were to be expected out of BMW 323i. However, it was about to be the beginning of the end of this short-lived vehicle. All new variants came about that year: the 323i four-door saloon or station wagon, the 323Ci two-door hatchback, and the 323Ci convertible. The same engine specification from the 1998 engine was brought, albeit a slight horsepower increase to 170hp. By the end of the year, the 323i was replaced by the aptly named 325i with a 2.5L M54B25 engine.
Third Generation (2006-Present, Canada only)
The 323i never existed again in U.S. territory. However, in 2006, it experienced a renaissance movement in Canada. The 323i took over the 320 as the entry-level 3-series in the market. The base price also matched that of the latest 128i, which makes them the most affordable BMW cars available. It still didn’t follow the suit though; having a 2.5L inline-6 producing a better 174hp engine. The following year the 323i broke new ground by gutting 26 more horsepower, for a total of 200. This engine became the standard for the models to come. In order to compete with invigorated models from fellow German counterparts, Audi and Mercedes-Benz, BMW Canada released an all-luxury edition of the 323i. This included A/T transmission, 17-inch alloy wheels, electric front seats, Bluetooth-USB capability, and power glass sunroof.