If you always dream of owning an M3 but can’t afford one, the M340i can get as close as possible for much cheaper. With the latest generation, it gets even closer to an actual M3, but in a more everyday livable format. The 3 series updated recently, called as LCI (Life Cycle Impulse) by BMW and our tester is the sweet spot of BMW’s 3-series model lineup, the M340i.
BMW did a great job with the exterior design of the updated 3-Series, the front fascia still looks like BMW but with much modern lines. Thankfully, it did not get a huge nostril like the 4-series, or even the M3. The front bumper design is completely revised, now it includes much more sharp angles. Our tester comes with the blacked-out grille, headlights and plastic parts for more sportier look.
From the side profile and rear end, it is still gorgeous like the outgoing model. I personally think it is one of the best-looking compact premium sedans. The differences are less obvious when you walk around and check the rear end. The biggest difference is the rear bumper design with sharper body lines and design details. The styling is a subjective matter, but if you like BMW’s design language, the M340i will not disappoint.
There are important updates in the interior, mainly the screens located on the dashboard. BMW decided to prioritize simplicity with the updated interior. There are two screens located side by side for the digital cluster and the infotainment screen, which looks like a huge one piece design. The center console design looks very similar, but BMW decided to make it look more digital with less physical buttons. You have to go through the infotainment screen to change essential features like the HVAC system. It works fine and lag-free, but you rely on the screen more than the outgoing model. The screen offers excellent resolution, the curved widescreen is easy to use, and the 360 cameras works exceptionally well.
The updated M340i gets the latest BMW infotainment system, which is a hate or love relationship. It definitely looks more complicated even if you are coming from an older BMW model. It is quite useful once you get the hang of it, and if you are using a smartphone integration, you would barely notice it. The main menu is simple, but once you go through all apps, that’s when it can be confusing for the first few minutes. Thankfully, it has a search bar and it is super easy to find the feature you are looking for.
Aside from the infotainment screen, there are two important changes. Now it has the new digital cluster located right in front of the driver. The outgoing model’s digital cluster wasn’t too bad, but it was falling behind when it comes to the customization. The new version totally eliminates that, and you can even place Google Maps in the cluster, which allows you to use the infotainment screen for something else. The center console is also updated, and the new tiny shifter makes the center area look much cleaner.
The only gripe that I had about the 3-series interior is the cupholder placement with the outgoing model, and sadly BMW did not update the center console design. The cupholders are small and most large size cups won’t fit, and they are located in the worst place possible. There is a wireless charging area right in front of it and the drinks would block the way completely if you have a smartphone placed in it. Not to mention the drinks would spill all over to your smartphone in case of a panic braking. The cupholders are definitely not designed for North American lifestyle. If you can get past that, it is a great place to spend time in the interior of the M340i.
The updated M340i comes with the same M Sport seats, which offers great amount of adjustability. You can even adjust the side bolstering based on your driving mode. However, I do not find the seats particularly comfortable, they are firmly padded and bottom cushion is not wide enough for overweight people, I needed few days to find the right adjustment, and get used to it.
The rear seats offer decent amount of legroom and headroom, unless you are a very large adult. At 6’1” I was able to sit behind my seating position in the front but it was a tight fit, and you really set your expectations accordingly when it comes to compact RWD sedan platform. If you have a rear facing child seat, you must move the front passenger seat almost all the way to the front. If you prioritize the rear legroom space or more family-oriented ride, you might want to consider 5-Series for optimal rear seat comfort. I was disappointed when it comes to the features for the rear seat passengers, there wasn’t even a heated rear seat feature which is available at much lower price range.
The trunk space is surprisingly good if you compare it with the other German entries, and M340i comes standard with a power-operated deck lid with locking feature. You can also fold down the rear seats with the levers located in the trunk, if you are looking for the most amount of cargo space. It is also important that the back seat is split in 40/20/40 fashion, and the seats also fold nearly flat.
Let’s talk about what makes the M340i differentiate itself from the standard 3-Series. The drivetrain isn’t updated, as it really does not need any change. It still comes with a 3.0-liter inline 6-cylinder turbocharged engine that generates 382 horsepower and 369 lb-ft of torque on paper. In real world, the M340i feels so much faster with its flat torque curve and ZF’s 8-speed torque converted automatic transmission. The transmission is still one of my favorite automatics on the market, as it can be quite flexible and accommodating based on your driving style, with extremely fast upshifting/downshifting.
As expected from a sporty BMW, the xDrive system prioritizes fun while still offering great traction on any surface. It delivers the driving experience you would expect from an M car, even though it is not a proper M3. It does not have RWD-only driving mode where it disconnects the front axle for the maximum amount of fun, but even without one it is quite fun to drive on any surface. With the combination of a great 6-cylinder turbo engine, 8-speed automatic transmission, and xDrive system, the M340i slingshots of the line in less than 4 seconds, or just as fast as the previous generation M3 .
It is not just the drivetrain, but the whole driving experience matches with the fun character of an engine and transmission. The suspension tuning, the steering wheel weight, brakes and everything else make you want to feel this is a sports sedan even when you are driving the M340i normally. The electronically adjustable suspension does a great job offering a balanced ride, but it is tuned quite firm even in Comfort driving mode.
Of course, the level of refinement and build quality is why you pay the premium, but the M340i adds extra layer of sportiness on top of it. Our tester had the smaller winter tire-rim combination that makes the M340i look more like a regular 3-Series, but it looks much sportier with the bigger factory rims. It gets the bigger M sport brake upgrades with 4-piston fixed Brembo calipers in the front and 2-piece front rotors for maximum braking performance.
The updated M340i still offers the same golden formula, but with the updated looks and more digital interior. It is still a more accessible everyday M3, a driver-focused premium compact sports sedan that offers the daily drivability of a regular 3-Series with 90% of performance of the current gen M3, but with a much lower price tag. Even though it is not considered as a true M car, it is just as fast as previous gen M3 and much faster than older M3s from a decade ago, and that’s what makes the M340i appealing to its audience.
|Engine||2998cc turbocharged inline-6|
|Transmission & Drivetrain||8-speed automatic|
|Max power||382 hp @ 6500 rpm|
|Max torque||369 lb-ft @ 1800 rpm|
|0-100 km/h||3.9 sec|
|Curb Weight||3813 lbs – 1729 kg|
|Fuel Economy (combined)||24 MPG – 15.6L / 100 km|
|Price (as tested)||$78,345 CAD|