2020 BMW M340i xDrive Touring review: price, specs and release date
The BMW M340i xDrive is the hottest 3 Series currently available until the new M3 is unveiled later this year. Can it scratch that M car itch?...
Price from £50,055 | On sale Now
Once upon a time, having an M badge on the boot of your BMW indicated to other road users that you truly cared about driving and had therefore paid a little more (okay, a lot more) for the most performance-orientated model in the line-up. Unfortunately, that’s no longer the case. With BMW choosing to diversify the M brand by making ‘M Sport’ a mere trim level on every model, that single integer badge has become a little diluted. So is everything in 2020 with an M badge all show and no go? Well, not exactly.
Case in point: the new BMW M340i xDrive Touring. It may ‘only’ be an M Performance model rather than a fire-breathing, purebred M car, but it certainly isn’t just a sporting garnish lacking in firepower. With 369bhp and 369lb ft of torque from its 3.0-litre turbocharged straight six petrol engine, it can complete the run from 0-62mph in just 4.5sec; that’s only a few tenths off the previous-generation M3. And with the benefit of an xDrive four-wheel drive system, eight-speed automatic gearbox and launch control, that performance is easily accessible.
Of course, not being a full-on M car, the chassis hasn’t received a complete overhaul – adaptive M Suspension, an M Sport differential and M Sport brakes are your lot – but the new 3 Series has already established itself as the finest-handling executive car on sale. That means the M340i already starts with a distinct advantage over its closest rivals, the Audi S4 and Mercedes-AMG C43. But the question remains, does the M340i deserve to wear the hallowed M badge on its rump? Let’s find out.
2020 BMW M340i xDrive Touring on the road
It doesn’t take long behind the wheel to recognise that the M340i’s engine is a little bit special, managing to combine impressive low-speed refinement with a sonorous top end that pleases your ears more than both of its closest rivals. Lock the M340i in a tall gear and it will pull just as hard from low revs as the diesel S4. But unlike the Audi (and even the C43, for that matter), it will keep pulling all the way to a heady 6800rpm redline.
As mentioned earlier, all that grunt is managed effectively by standard-fit four-wheel drive, which ensures that the M340i feels confidence-inspiring regardless of conditions. But don’t go thinking that the M340i is too strait-laced. Thanks to the M Sport limited-slip differential and the xDrive’s rear-axle bias, it’s surprisingly easy to play with the car’s balance on the limit – something that just isn’t possible in the sensible S4 or locked-down C43.
Placing the car on the road is also made easier thanks to BMW’s brilliant variable sport steering; its immediate response and the way it builds weight naturally through the corner is a delight, and you get a decent sense of connection to the front tyres. That said, we would advise keen drivers to keep the steering in Comfort mode at all times, because Sport simply adds too much artificial weight, making it harder to feel what’s going on underfoot.
The same goes for the adaptive suspension. In Comfort mode, the M340i feels comparable to a standard 3 Series with M Sport suspension, which is to say it’s firm but well controlled in its movements. Sport mode, meanwhile, is great for when you’re on a smoother surface and want that little bit more control when pushing on, but we’d avoid using it around town, because the brittle and unsettled ride is sure to irritate passengers.
2020 BMW M340i xDrive Touring interior
Be under no illusions: when you cough up more than £50,000 for your M340i xDrive Touring, your money, rather than going towards a bunch of interior luxuries, is mostly paying for that wonderful six-cylinder engine and those crucial M chassis upgrades. Therefore if you want technology such as a head-up display, keyless entry, wireless phone charging, electric front seats or lumbar support for the driver and front passenger, you’ll have to pay extra.
That said, at least what you do get as standard is class-leading. For example, the standard 10.3in iDrive infotainment system is better than what you get from Audi and Mercedes, with its pin-sharp touchscreen, easy-to-navigate menus and quick response times. And everything feels like it’s been screwed together properly, with BMW offering a good choice of interior trim choices, including a futuristic-looking metal mesh effect or more traditional open-pore wood.
Like lesser 3 Series models, the driver’s seat and steering wheel are both highly adjustable, allowing you to easily find your ideal driving position, while the situation in the rear is just as impressive; a six-footer can sit behind someone of similar stature and still have space in all directions. Granted, boot space by usual estate standards is nothing to write home about, but it’s commendable when compared with its closest rivals.
If you want to know more about the interior, including the list of equipment and safety features that come as standard, head over to our full BMW 3 Series Touring review. Or to see how much you could save on a new 3 Series without any haggling, check out our New Car Buying service.
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