Our recent test of the BMW 330i showed just how good the new F20 could be at the low end. But we wondered just how much better the M340i could be? After some time behind the wheel we have an answer – profoundly. With 382 hp, 369 ft lbs and an inspiring engine note the M340i feels like the missing link between a well specced 3 Series and an all out M3.
In fact on paper this is a car that is equivalent to the M5s from just a few generations ago. Add to that phenomenal grip courtesy of xDrive and modern rubber and you have something incredibly capable even on the track. Yes, the 330i was impressive, but for an extra 4 K+ this car feels profoundly different and more capable.
But the party trick with the M340i (and all 3 series these days) is how it responds to driver input and the feedback it generates. Despite the 3,849 lbs curb weight (gulp) the M340i xDrive responds with enthusiasm while exhibiting a level of finesse not seen in the last two generations. The extra few hundred pounds the M340i carries over the 330i doesn’t hinder it and in fact seems to have been easily dealt with by BMW.
At the 3 Series’s heart are entirely new steering and suspension systems that have seemingly taken the 3 Series back to its previous levels of engagement and athleticism from a decade ago. We won’t go into the technical details in this review (you can read that here), but suffice it to say BMW has created a driving experience that harkens back to the subtlety and interactivity of a properly specced E46.
What’s particularly interesting about this M340i (and the 330i we tested a few weeks back) is that they deliver this level of comfort and performance without the need for variable dampers. This is down to the new suspension geometry and hardware on this car – a big departure from the E90 and F30.
Conclusions? The 330i was Good. The M340i is Great.
This isn’t the perfect 3 Series. It’s over 3,800 lbs and that vaunted 50/50 weight distribution is 51.5 / 48.5 here. And with a price as tested of $61,750 this is encroaching on 5 Series territory. But the sum of the parts here is extraordinary in its segment. There is nothing at that price that combines the same level of comfort, technology and performance that this 2020 BMW 340i delivers. Even comparing it to the $57,420 330i we tested previously, this lighter specced, slightly more expensive M340i feels like a no-brainer for enthusiasts.