What is this?
Although you might only think of models like the M3 and M5 as “real M cars,” BMW offers a number of “M Performance” models across nearly all of its lineups as well.
Focusing more on sportiness and performance than the “normal” models, they sit between the standard car and full-fat M models.
Take the 3 Series, which is one of BMW’s biggest sellers, and up to 15 percent of the versions sold are “M Performance” versions. BMW has now modified it in line with the rest of the 3 Series series. Let’s find out what they are like.
BMW has left the beating heart of the M340i and M340d as before, and we’ll find out more about their inline-six engines later.
But the majority of changes in the latest 3 Series affect the interior, with the same curved screen that has been making the rounds on BMW’s latest models, including the iX and 2 Series Active Tourer, now introduced here. The latest interior didn’t disappoint, but there’s now a simpler and more modern look thanks to the addition of large screens for the digital instrument cluster and the main touch screen.
What is under the hood?
In the third category, you can get your “M Performance” model in two variants – the M340i petrol or the M340d diesel. The latter may seem an odd choice, but its combination of 335 horsepower and the claimed 48 mpg makes it very desirable.
But this is the M340i petrol we’re trying here, which uses a 3.0-liter six-cylinder engine that develops 369 horsepower and 500 Nm of torque. For a bit of context, the current M3 puts out 503 horsepower and 650 Nm of torque.
It comes standard with all-wheel drive as well, along with an eight-speed Steptronic Sport automatic transmission. Reaching 60 mph from a standstill takes 4.2 seconds, with the M340i’s top speed of 155 mph. However, it’s still surprisingly good on fuel, with BMW claiming 36.4 mpg, with CO2 emissions between 177-193 g/km. Not bad for a powerful six-cylinder gasoline that works without any electrification.
What does driving look like?
For how good regular 3 Series drives are, the M340i has some very strong underpinnings. This isn’t just an ordinary model with a larger engine, as BMW gave it an M-shaped differential, a specific suspension, larger brakes and a sportier exhaust.
The result is also excellent, with the M340i certainly feeling a lot closer to the “M” model. The realistic pace is particularly impressive, while in “Sport” mode the exhaust makes a cracking sound. It doesn’t feel as special or rewarding as the M3, but then again if you’re buying a 3-Series Sport for daily duties, we think the M340i would be a much better choice. Install it in the “comfort” setting and the ride will be brilliantly compliant, very polished and quiet too.
How does it look?
BMW has refined the design of its latest 3 Series, with slimmer LED headlights included with reshaped bumpers and a redesigned grille. Unlike the M3, the M340i’s grille remains very small and relatively accurate.
And that precision is the main attraction of the M340i, because unless you’re aware, it doesn’t look much different than a regular 3 Series diesel. Sure, there are slightly larger air intakes, a contoured grille design and exclusive 19-inch alloy wheels, but it doesn’t scream much about its performance credentials.
What does the place look like from the inside?
As mentioned, the main change in the Series 3’s updated interior is the new curved screen, and instead of having two separate screens, these screens are fused together into one stunning curved piece of glass. It changed the interior, and the iDrive infotainment software is still the best, with crystal clear screens and seamless connectivity.
The cabin of the remaining 3 Series is also filled with high-quality materials, and while it may be the “cheapest” BMW saloon, it certainly doesn’t feel that way. As for roominess, the saloon performs not so badly, although there are impractical sides of the trunk opening and a slightly weak rear space. Touring is the best option in this regard.
what are the specifications?
With the M340i at the top of the Series 3 line, the level of equipment on offer is impressive. Highlights include an impressive curved screen, adaptive LED headlights and 19-inch alloy wheels. It also includes heated sports seats, along with a sports suspension and front and rear parking sensors.
Prices start at £54,805 for the M340i, although the M340d diesel is a few hundred pounds cheaper. You can take a risk with the list of options, but the price will quickly rise. A panoramic sunroof will set you back £1,050, another £850 Harman Kardon audio system and driver assistance package, and before you know it, you’ll have a £60,000 M340i.
Few cars can claim to be as talented as the BMW M340i. With its powerful performance, everyday practicality, precision and comfort, it can be the best in all areas – and even more so in touring appearance.
Some may not find it attractive enough behind the wheel, but we think few will be left unsatisfied, unless they are pushed back with an M3. With a much improved interior, the M340i has never looked so attractive.