We talking of a car model from the German car maker BMW that has been known globally for its style, drive pleasure, performance and has also set the sales chart on fire in all of its 40 years of its existence, yes we are talking of the 3-Series. This is one car model that has stood the test of time and has grown with time regaining its legendary and cult status. Well if you want your 3-Series to be still higher engineered and higher on performance then you have the M which is the Performance division of BMW. Now BMW is all set to build their very first performance M 3-Series in India. We drive the soon to be launched M340i xDrive where we try to find out what makes the BMW M a true expression of sporting prowerss. Find out all on the latest BMW in town the All Wheel Drive M340i right here in our detailed road test review.
Food for Thought
The BMW set up their performance division the BMW Motorsport GmbH also known as the BMW M is 1972. Initially BMW M had only 35 employees. Interestingly BMW M also developed the 1280hp Formula 1 Turbo engine with Nelson Piquet becoming the world champion with M power on the podium. The ‘M’ designation simply means Motorsports and this is a reference to the early days of the BMW division when it was focused on developing race cars. BMW 3.0CSL was the first ‘proper’ M powered by a 6-cylinder engine that propelled the car to a top speed in excess of 258 kmph and only 473 units produced, making this the one of the rarest M cars. The fastest M car is the M8 Competition that can do 0-100kmph in 2.8 seconds. The X5M and the X6M were the 1st SUV models to join the M lineup. The M3 and the M5 are the most well known M models globally. The M5 was the first xDrive (all wheel drive) M model ever produced in 2018.
In terms of exteriors the M340i retains all the hallmark character of the legendary 3-Series but gets loads of M extras in the final list. The overall stance is low slung and highly aggressive. The face gets the aggressive large BMW kidney grille with mesh inserts and chrome touches on it. The grille frame comes finished in satin silver making it look different as compared to the normal 3-Series.
The front bumper comes with a wide mesh type air dam along with practical air vents with satin inserts on the corners and some smooth flowing character lines. The M340i gets the latest and trendy adaptive LED headlamps with unique BMW laser light with neatly integrated twin L shaped DRL elements. These heave a blue glow in the middle that light up softly when they come to life. The long wide bonnet retains the unique trademark BMW character lines that flow backwards defining it.
The side profile retains the 3-Series silhouette with sharp shoulder and waistline defining it and blacked out window frames along with glossy black pillar and the trademark Hofmeister kink again finished in glossy black. Key M elements here include the wing mirror housed in satin silver finish as BMW calls it Cerium Grey metallic and also 18 inched M light alloys in multi spoked design. The M340i drives on 225/45 in the front and 255/40 at the rear.
The rear like the front is extra hot looking and oozes tons of sportiness that the M badge that it’s known for. The rear end is largely highlighted by the super sleek and trendy looking 3D styled all LED stretched tail lamps with L shape glow. M elements here include the M spoiler on the sculpted boot lid with M badging and the integrated twin exhausts placed on the extreme ends of the dual-tone bumper. The roof gets a shark-fin antenna and a large sized electric sunroof on the overall package. The sports sedan comes with a large boot capacity that of 480 liters with a wide opening for easy loading and unloading.
The moment you step inside the M340i you instantly realize this is not the usual 3 Series. The all black cabin, loads of M elements, space etc welcomes you rather cozily. The dash is wide and flat finished in premium soft material. The dash gets special electroplated strip inserts with metal surrounds adding a lot of sporty character. The door pads and the centre console also get this inserts. The centre dash gets a 10.25 inch screen as its infotainment system powered by the latest BMW operating system loaded with Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, 3D navigation, voice commands, radio etc. The instrument cluster here is the 12.3 inches color screen which displays all the needed information digitally and also sports the M340i badge boldly on it.
The M304i comes with a three spoked M steering in generous leather wrapping, M badge and blue stitching loaded with all the MFD buttons around metal inserts and leather wrapped boss pad, you also get large metal paddle shifters on here. Also on the equipment list is the M heads-up display. You also get the Harman Kordon 16 speaker audio system on the M340i package along with six color ambient lighting.
The climate control here is a 3-zone unit with control buttons finished in real metal giving that premium touch feel. The centre dash comes engulfed in the electro metallic finish with metal inserts. The Shifter is an M unit finished in glossy black with metal and leather. You have the drive mode buttons, iDrive control dial, electro mechanical handbrake etc buttons placed here. The M340i also gets wireless mobile charger along with USB charge port and USB type C charge ports. The special M sports seats come in alcantara leather upholstery and get full electric adjust. The seat belts also sport the special BMW M colors on them. Front seats offer very good comfort and are padded firmly being sports seats while offering support very nicely.
Rear seating comfort is also excellent with loads of knee, leg and head room. Rear seats get three adjustable headrests and a folding arm rest with can holder. You also get climate control along with two USB-C connectors.
Engine – Transmission – Performance
It is the heart of the M car that really matters the most. Powering the M340i is the M-Performance six cylinder turbo petrol engine that hits out a mammoth 387 hp of power and 500Nm of torque, this engine is mated to the 8-speed M steptronic transmission. Everything on paper looks high on performance but it is only when you get behind the wheels of the M340i that you realize its real capability. You have the various drive modes to select from Eco PRO to Comfort and then Sport and Sport Plus if you want to meet the real M. The exhaust roar along with power deliver and steering feedback changes as per the mode you drive in. The Sport Plus mode gives you the maximum exhaust note that is music to the ears.
Power delivery is instant; the car shoots ahead with the huge exhaust note with extra ease. The intelligent all wheel drive (xDrive) ensures that the power deliver goes to all wheels and also helps keeping the sports sedan planted at all times. The engine loves to be revved right uptill the 7K RPM mark. The exhaust note is real and not artificial like many other sport cars. The steering feels excellent to hold and there is tons of clear feedback at all speeds and drive modes. You can feel the G’s hitting you when you accelerate from a standstill.
The M Brakes do a fine job, and the M gets a very progressive style of coming to a halt. Overall the M340i didn’t fail to bring a nice wide smile to my face every time I was behind its wheels.
There is simple nothing that you can find or pick against the M340i, everything is harmoniously put together and does its job perfectly on this fast car. The car is very drivable, not scary but boosts your confidence with time. The car is super fun to drive, the car is also practical as your daily drive apart from being a performance sport car when you want it to be. Well it is now built in India which again should be a big reason for you to go for it apart from it being priced competitively due to the tax benefits. Easily the Best car in its class that you can bet on.
Words – Ritesh Madhok
Photography & Video – Govind Gadekar