The words 3 Series and BMW go together like Pancakes and Maple Syrup. You just can’t imagine one without the other.
The sports sedan has been the German automaker’s bread and butter (that will be the last food reference, I promise) for years and now enters its seventh generation with the introduction of the 2020 models.
And with the new generation of sedans, BMW has decided to add a new trick to its already well-stocked lineup with the addition of an M Performance model, like the 2020 BMW M340i xDrive I recently tested.
Some of the highlights of the new model include an updated six-cylinder in-line gasoline engine, M Performance chassis tuning, optional and standard M Sport rear differential.
The M340i has a base price of $61,850, while our tester maxed out at 74,445 (including the destination charge of $2,245).
That price reflected the addition of a few options, notably the Premium Excellence Package ($ 8,300) that includes things like an automatic trunk, front and rear heated seats, Walknappa leather dashboard, ambient lighting, high-beam assistant, driving assistant professional, BMW laser light headlights, a heads-up display, Harman Kardon sound system, wireless charging, BMW gesture control and more. The adaptive M Suspension was also an extra $600.
Now, many BMW 3 Series fans will likely bemoan one change made to the sedan: The manual transmission is no more. The latest generation of the popular vehicle does away with it in favour of an eight-speed automatic.
Sadly, the manual transmission will not be around much longer for any automaker, it seems.
On the bright side, however, is the fact that the auto gearbox is paired to a new engine, a turbocharged 3.0-litre inline six-cylinder powerplant that is very competent at delivering the goods.
And the goods in this case are 382 horsepower and 369 ft-lb of torque, making quick work of motivating the M340i – 4.4 seconds from zero to 100 km/h.
The transmission is smooth and the exhaust note is melodic, especially in sport mode.
Combined fuel economy is estimated at 10.0 litres per 100 kilometres (combined), with my average coming in a little higher, but still respectable, at 11.0 L/100 km.
One of my good friends, who happens to be a BMW fanatic, remarked on the M340i’s size and for good reason: The latest generation is longer, wide and taller than the outgoing model.
The front of the M340i is wide and low-slung, giving it an aggressive appearance. The BMW kidney grille features mesh inserts – a nice look – and it is framed by a new look to the twin headlight assemblies – which now featured LED technology.
The hood is nicely sculpted with lines flowing from the grille. With a new, longer wheelbase, short overhangs and a nice roofline, the M340i has a definite sport vibe to it.
At the rear, the integrated exhaust tips, spoiler lip on the truck and L-shaped LED taillights complete the look.
Inside, the cabin is also larger than the previous generation 3 Series, giving occupants more space and coming loaded with quality materials and new technology.
The driver and passenger are nicely welcomed by sports seating – and I especially liked the Cognac Vernasca Leather interior.
The cockpit has a clear focus on the driver in the way controls are placed, and with a digital dash and large digital display screen, all the information is crystal clear.
About the only thing I had a hard time adjusting to was the fact that the start/stop button is now in the centre console rather than the dash like most vehicles.
However, that centre console is a nicely designed area that features the shifter, drive setting controls and the iDrive controller for the iDrive 7 system, BMWs latest.
And it’s a very easy system to operate, with a responsive touchscreen with the items you request loading quickly. The fact you can customize what you see on the screen and create user profiles also makes it more efficient to operate, not to mention the gesture controls eliminate the needs to take your eyes off the road for many things once you have learned the sign language required.
One thing BMW has mastered is delivering driving pleasure and the M340i is no exception.
The powerful engine delivers plenty of punch, but the vehicle rides and handles exquisitely, fulfilling every command and input without a hassle.
The 3 Series sedan has always been known to deliver driving joy and after a week with the seventh generation M340i, it’s easy to say that the reputation is in good hands moving forward.
2020 BMW M340i xDrive
Price as tested: $74,445.00
Configuration: Front engine/All-wheel drive
Engine/transmission: Turbocharged 3.0-litre inline 6-cylinder/ 8-speed automatic
Power/torque: 382 horsepower/ 369 ft-lb of torque
Fuel (capacity): Premium (59 L)
Combined fuel economy ratings (L/100 km): 10.0 L/100 km
Observed fuel economy (L/100 km): 11.0 L/100 km
Warranties: 4-years/80,000 km (basic)
Competitors: Audi A4/S4, Mercedes-Benz C-Class, Infiniti Q50, Lexus IS, Volvo S60, Jaguar XE, Alfa Romeo Giulia, Genesis G70, Kia Stinger
- Excellent engine/transmission
- Comfortable ride and cabin
- Digital cockpit
- On the expensive side
- Some controls could be better