The BMW 3 Series is absolutely loved by India, as it is in most countries. Not many people view it as an entry-level BMW as much as a modest contender with its contemporaries in a rather crowded world of sedans.
The 3 Series, however, is many rungs below the feisty M3 that shows off its incredible performance creds. Nestled somewhere between the aggression of the M3 and the widely accepted 330i, stands the BMW M340i xDrive, with aesthetics that lean closer to the former and a performance that reminisces the latter.
Design and style
The M340i is a beautiful car. It’s an unmistakably a BMW, with a few enhancements to the usual façade. You get the expected silver-finished kidney grilles, interactive LED headlamps on either side, and the slight edge needed to give it the personality of a performance sedan. It looks agile, at first glance. Some of this can be attributed to the 10-spoke alloys and large 18-inch wheels, which look like they’re hungry for tarmac. There are large air intakes on the front and massive rear exhausts.
A slight bump on the boot is an honest attempt at simulating a spoiler. The closer-to-the-ground body and the imposing laser beams make it quite a visual delight as it zips across highways.
This incredibly agile machine is further enhanced with the M Aerodynamics package that includes the M-specific front apron, rear apron, and side skirts.
Interiors and tech
The interiors reflect the sporty allure of the M340i. The seats are comfortable throughout the cabin. If you have experienced the 330i, this one’s no different. But then, that doesn’t mean that BMW hasn’t justified the ‘M’ aspect of the car. Everything feels and looks sporty, without shaving the edginess the sport spec adds. We’d like to clarify that you don’t expect the M buttons as you would in the M3, but slight hints of the colour accents can be picked up from the trims of the seats and seat belts. There’s a lot happening on the dash, with the head-up display, M-specific instrument cluster, and a wide console screen. BMW’s infotainment has been celebrated for its compatibility with leading operating systems. The passenger half of the dash is relatively clutter-free and looks quite vacant, to be honest.
You can access the finest driver assistance programs including Gesture Control, which ensures that you needn’t go fumbling for buttons, and Parking Assistance that comes with lateral parking aid and a camera to help you squeeze into those tight spots. If you’re big into automotive tech, these would seem to be tame, but then there’s the performance that justifies the entire unit.
Engine and performance
BMW doesn’t over-promise when it says that the M340i is inspired by motorsport. With the ability to go from 0 to 100kmph in just 4.4 seconds, this is the Indian-assembled car with the quickest acceleration.
It is made possible with the refined M TwinPower Turbo 6-cylinder engine that conjures up 387hp via a perfectly tuned 8-speed M Sport transmission and M Sport differential. There’s very little lag you will experience, which justifies the motorsport claim.
Driving the M340i is a delight, whether you’re on one of your solo speed runs or cruising with the family through busy suburban traffic. The driving modes add to the character of the car and get it to behave as per your whims. While the Eco Mode is more reserved and doesn’t let you express yourself completely, the Comfort Mode is what you should be choosing in the heart of the city. It relaxes the controls and the suspension feels more cooperative.
The Sport Mode, however, is where you can justify the M-specific behaviour of the M340i. It goes without saying that you do not want to encounter unexpected turns and impediments while you’re in this mode, as the car gets a bit too rigid. You would rather try it out on the straights and expressways. But when you do stamp on the pedal, you feel the absolute rush of power to all four wheels, thanks to the e-diff. Your shifts are quicker and the acceleration is unmatched by anything you have driven in this category.
The BMW M340i xDrive is an incredible blend of style and performance — the kind that redefines an entirely new segment without mincing words. It’s great for a family of four, and no more. The seats are accommodating, and the cabin is spacious, however, the boot could be a bit roomier.
The driving experience is smooth in the Comfort Mode, which makes co-passengers of all ages feel comfortable, with the infotainment system and sound system upgrades to keep them company. You can confidentially drive the M340i to work, every day, and also get it to spread its wings on the best proving grounds your city can provide.
You couldn’t ask for this performance at this price without being disappointed. BMW has seamlessly bridged both worlds flawlessly. The hints of the M-specific improvements and mods are a fragrant reminder of what inspired its creation. At the end of the day, you drive away with a car that has satisfactorily quenched the desire of many.
Engine: 2998cc, straight-six petrol
Transmission: 8 Speed automatic
Power: 382.19bhp@5800rpm / 500Nm@1850-5000rpm
Top speed: 250 kmph
0 to 100 km/hr: 4.4 seconds
Price: Rs62.90 Lakh