Words: Calvin Chan
Photography: Calvin Chan
Published: April 16, 2023
Sedans may not be as popular as SUVs but that doesn’t mean they are any less capable or competent. On the contrary, the M340i xDrive we have on test is significantly more involving, rewarding, and engaging to drive than its SUV counterpart, the X3 M40i. More than its rivals too like the Mercedes-AMG C 43, Audi S4, and Genesis G70 thanks to a silky powertrain, agile handling, and a firm but composed ride.
The M340i xDrive utilizes a flattering 3.0-litre turbocharged inline-six that produces 382 hp and 369 lb-ft of torque. While already inherently smooth, there is now a 48-volt mild hybrid system that supplements the engine and 8-speed gearbox by providing extra torque and polishing out the transitions between shifts and engine starts. It may not sound like much but it adds an extra dimension of refinement to the way the powertrain operates.
Out on the open road, the M340i makes for one of the most thrilling sports sedans at its price point, and is definitely up there with more focused two-door sports cars like the Nissan Z and BMW M240i xDrive. Hammering the go-fast pedal reveals a tidal wave of acceleration and a robustness to the way it sustains that propulsive feeling. There is a gobsmack of torque no matter what gear you find yourself in, and you can even make outrageous progress without ever breaching 5,000 rpm. Its performance bandwidth is incredible and undoubtedly feels faster and more accessible than an E90 M3.
Effortless is a good way to put it - the M340i makes the driving experience accessible and beginner-friendly with a low learning curve and excellent traction and stability control systems. Yet it’s been clearly and meticulously crafted for drivers who prize handling and have serpentine roads to explore in their backyard.
Supportive seats and an ergonomic interior add to the appeal, though the somewhat cramped rear seats might garner complaints from taller occupants. The roaring exhaust noise will drown them out though, and while not as goosebump-raising as a naturally aspirated V8, it emits a mature yet thrilling howl in Sport Mode, followed by a light flurry of burbles and pops on throttle overrun, enough to get the blood pumping (and enough to mute back seat drivers).
The ride is firm but far from nervous or unsettled when negotiating pockmarked roads. It prefers to hug every nook and cranny to let the driver feel the rhythm, rather than neutralizing all the oscillations and precious road feedback. That pays dividends in reducing body roll and adding a more athletic driving behaviour to those who enjoy carving corners. But for those who plan on commuting long distances or are surrounded by potholes and broken city roads, we recommend the optional adaptive suspension ($1,000) that adds a Comfort Mode for a softer and more compliant ride. Or just get a regular 330i instead. The two-door 430i works too but we prefer the visuals of the 3 Series and its more traditional kidney grill.
We took the M340i up north to stretch its legs on our favourite winding roads, and it felt right at home. The all-wheel drive came in handy for the higher-speed, off-camber sweepers lightly dusted with snow from the night before, and the torquey engine meant we did not even have to shift out of third or fourth gear. Of note, our M340i xDrive test vehicle wore smaller 17-inch wheels wrapped in Pirelli Sottozero winter rubber, whereas 18-inch wheels come as standard, so the ride quality we experienced may vary slightly.
Confident steering let us play around with its grip limits and we have to say, BMW has really nailed down the tuning of its variable-ratio steering, which feels more natural than before and doesn’t require a great deal of micro-adjusting on the fly. For the icing on the cake - the M340i xDrive is relatively fuel-efficient as well. Highway driving revealed an impressive 8.4 L/100km yield while mixing that with city driving averaged it out to 10.1 L/100km.
From a performance perspective, the BMW M340i xDrive is the complete package wrapped in a sports sedan silhouette. It’s a graceful performer with a distinct personality, and while it may not be as sought after as the X3 SUV, its low center of gravity, excellent handling, and peachy powertrain make it one of the most engaging vehicles to roll out of the BMW factory.
Model: 2023 BMW M340i xDrive
Paint Type: Skyscraper Grey Metallic
Base Price: $66,000
Price as Tested: $78,345
Length/Width/Height (mm): 4,714 / 1,827 / 1,440
Unladen weight (DIN) (kg): 1,725
Engine: 3.0-litre turbocharged inline-six with 48V mild hybrid system
Horsepower: 382 hp @ 5,500 - 6,500 rpm
Torque: 369 lb-ft @ 1,900 - 5,000 rpm
Transmission: 8-speed automatic
Engine & Drive Configuration: Front engine, AWD
Observed Fuel Consumption (L/100km): 8.4
Tires: Pirelii Sottozero; P225/50R17