The BMW M340i is the new flagship variant in the 3 Series line-up and is placed a notch below the M3
This is not just a normal 3 Series from BMW. It is also not just a powerful variant of the 3 Series. It is a car that has been developed with some serious intent. Yes, BMW engineering has gone flat out and come up with a car that truly delivers. The car I am talking about is the BMW M340i xDrive. It is BMW’s only six-cylinder 3 Series option, and comes with four-wheel drive as standard. There is a lot that is different about this car versus the regular 3 Series – so again it is not just a variant with a different engine. It gets a different steering, different suspension setup, exhaust and brakes. It gets M design wheels and brake callipers, sportier bumpers and that snarling mesh grille that really gets your attention. Power is up by 40 bhp over the previous-gen 340i, and the M badge only indicates an M Performance variant, this is NOT an M model. That is the M3, and it is a whole other story on what this six-cylinder motor can do. But that is for another day!
So let’s get into it then, but a little differently. Let me talk about the heart of the matter.
Also Read: BMW M340i India Launch Details Out
Now when I drove this car two years back, I remember telling you how it’s a brand new straight-six developed by BMW so it’s not just an incremental improvement over the old one. And what that gives you is obviously better performance and much better response time. So, the car instantly catches on to what you want what you need from it and all of this has happened mainly, although there’s a lots of changes in the engine but the big change is in the turbocharging, the entire system has been reworked and it includes now is the steel exhaust manifold which just help build more pressure so that you get the punchier performance much quicker. Yes this car is fast. Very fast. And stays sophisticated throughout. The 500 Nm of peak torque is a delight. To some purists the fun factor may drop due to the all-wheel drive. But it gives you more precise handling and corrects for any inaccurate steering inputs.
The M340i is powered by a 3.0-litre, six-cylinder petrol engine that produces 387bhp and the eight-speed automatic transmission channels the power to all four wheels via the xDrive all-wheel-drive system. 0-100 kmph is done in just 4.4 seconds, so yes, extremely fun from the word go! Now, BMW engineers really focused on that sound, the sound and the notes that you get from the engine is just so fantastic. It’s growly, it’s satisfying, it’s got this deep rumble and yet it just gives you the sense of very refined performance, that’s something just needs to convey to you how dynamic this car is, what sort of character it has. And I have to say, job done well!
Ride And Handling
The xDrive system is also the latest iteration, and it maintains optimal power distribution between the front and rear axles. The M340i will maintain a rear-wheel bias so that it stays true to the BMW character. The current seventh generation 3 Series has great ride quality, though a tad on the stiffer side. On the M340i, it is even stiffer. But that stiff ride feel complements its performance. The car sits lower by about 10 mm, gets a new lift-related damper control and has the M Sport differential that is electronically controlled. The Adaptive M suspension with electronically controlled dampers is just sheer genius. In India, the car drives in with 18-inch wheels.
The first time I drove this car was at the Portimao track in Portugal. It was wrapped in camouflage and yet that grille stood out. The M Sport exhaust and Sport Plus were my best friends that day. The thing that stands out about the M340i is how a few years ago we would have readily accepted this as an M3. I cannot imagine how much edgier the M3 will be!
The cabin is very sporty and very well finished. You get M treatment all around with the sportier seatbelts, sill badge and even in the instrument cluster. As expected – being the flagship ensures you get all the bells and whistles on the M340i. From the sunroof to the virtual displays – and even the large touchscreen with connectivity and more – all standard.
The M340i will be launched in India on March 10 and expect it to be priced between ₹ 60-65 lakh (ex-showroom). It is not for everyone. But what is great is to see the car being built in India, and not coming in as a hugely overpriced import. There is no true rival to it in the segment right now, though eventually we will have the next gen Mercedes-Benz C43 and maybe if we are really lucky the Audi S4 too.