Time and time again, the BMW 3 Series has set the benchmark for compact executive saloons. The model’s blend of power, athleticism and agility are responsible for coining BMW’s trademark “Sheer driving pleasure” tagline.
Now, sportiness isn’t the BMW 3 Series’ only talent, though. The model also leads the way when it comes to technology and sustainability.
To discover the depth and breadth of the 3 Series’ talent, we asked three Torque contributors to drive three different BMW 3 Series models. This week, Lynn Tan shares her experience with the thrilling M340i xDrive.
Performance and power, like salted egg yolk fish skin and bubble tea, can be addictive. Once you have experienced the high derived from working that pedal or jaw, you cannot wait to get your next fix. The only things keeping you in check are probably the speed limit and your calorie count.
Such is the appeal of the BMW M340i xDrive Sedan. Until the arrival of the new M3 (G80) in Q1 of 2021, the M340i is the fastest and most powerful 3 Series available – a 384hp machine that gallops from zero to 100km/h in just 4.4 seconds.
Mind you, that’s a mere 0.2 of a second shy of its BMW M GmbH stablemate. The M340i is also the only model in the current 3 Series line-up that is equipped with a turbocharged 3-litre straight-6 engine and BMW xDrive intelligent all-wheel-drive system.
If the specs look good on paper, wait till you put the pedal to the metal. Many women count their kilos, but I prefer to count my cylinders, horsepower and torque. Getting behind the wheel of the M340i sure brought a big smile to this self-confessed performance junkie’s face.
Taking my first straight exiting the car park, it is immediately evident how forthcoming the power delivery is. Mated to the seamless shifts achieved by the 8-speed Steptronic Sport transmission makes acceleration feel absolutely effortless.
Some purists swear by rear-wheel-driven performance cars, but I have always preferred the sure-footedness offered by an all-wheel-drive. In this case, the BMW xDrive is programmed with a rear biased setup, so I get the best of both worlds.
This is most apparent when diving into a corner. The image of an eagle swooping in on a target flashes across my mind. The car remains ultra-nimble yet stable and it grips like the talons of an eagle around its prey.
I feel in total control, with my manicured talons firmly grasping and maneuvering the steering wheel using sharp and precise flicks of the wrist, made possible by the variable sport steering.
The Adaptive M suspension is a little on the stiff side, but any protest from the lower back is promptly addressed by a dose of adrenaline rush. The flap-controlled M Sport exhaust system offers the best soundtrack to complement a drive, especially in Sport or Sport Plus. Move over, Taylor Swift.
The various drive modes accommodate not just my driving moods, but also the preferences of my passengers. That morning’s school run was made all the more exciting, thanks to the BMW M340i.
It gets a nod of approval from my backseat reviewer, a brutally honest 10-year-old who is accustomed to a high-octane diet. When I pressed the ignition button, her first comment was: “It sounds so good.”
Like her mum, she has a need for speed and thrives on fast rides, be it on the road or at the theme parks, so her driving mode of choice was Sport.
Giving the husband a ride to the office is a different story. In the driver’s seat, he enjoys his dynamic corners and speedy straights. But as a passenger, anything less than a magic carpet ride leaves him feeling queasy. So, I switch to Comfort mode as I cruise him to work.
I find the efficient Eco Pro mode most appropriate as I join the rush hour traffic to get to my weekly Pilates session. Nobody likes getting stuck in traffic, but I’m not complaining. It gives me a chance to discover a more docile, but no less enticing side to the M340i.
Cars are like food. Before we eat or drive, we first feast with our eyes. The M340i possesses the eye candy that will quicken an enthusiast’s pulse. They say never judge a book by its cover, but you can totally judge the M340i by its heart-throbbing good looks that offer visual cues to its performance.
Exterior elements that are unique to the variant include a mesh-design BMW kidney grille, Cerium Grey metallic finish mirror caps, trapezoidal tailpipes and body-coloured M rear spoiler. These distinguish the M340i from its siblings and leave no ambiguity as to its prowess.
Performance goes beyond who has the faster or more powerful car. Knowing that your car has been engineered to tackle demanding driving conditions instils confidence as a driver. Being behind the wheel of a performance car also gives me a heightened sense of awareness. I am tuned in to the car, to the road and to me.
The M340i takes every straight, bend and bump in its stride and by association, driving it makes me feel like I am right on top of things. That long to-do list filled with work and family commitments suddenly doesn’t seem all that daunting anymore.
For those who have an appetite for speed and power, as well as something a little less hardcore and gentler on the wallet, while still delivering all the good stuff, the M340i is the answer.
BMW M340i xDrive Sedan
ENGINE 2998cc, 24-valves, inline-6, turbocharged
MAX POWER 384hp at 5500-6500rpm
MAX TORQUE 500Nm at 1850-5000rpm
POWER TO WEIGHT 224hp per tonne
GEARBOX 8-speed Steptronic Sport transmission
0-100KM/H 4.4 seconds
TOP SPEED 250km/h
CONSUMPTION 13km/litre (combined)
PRICE INCL. COE $317,888 (after $10k VES surcharge)
AGENT Performance Munich Autos