2020 BMW M340i xDrive Review by Larry Nutson
A six-cylinder returns
By Larry Nutson
Executive Editor and Bureau Chief
The Auto Channel
I’m reminded almost daily about the iconic BMW 2002 that I never owned. I was on the hunt for a 2002 way back lots of years ago when a job change took me down a new road. Now, today, I can look at a neighbor’s 2002 in our parking lot and pine over that void in my life.
Fortunately, my wife and I have owned a few BMWs in recent years, so all was not lost. The 2002’s successor, the 3-series was first introduced in 1976. We’re now up to Gen-7 of this also iconic BMW sport sedan with the M340i and M340i xDrive the newest members of the family.
An all-new vehicle generation allows for changes to all the vehicle sub-systems. With today’s materials and joining techniques bodies can be made stiffer and more rigid which allows for improved handling, the use of more engine power and increased comfort. Big news in the M340i is an updated six-cylinder inline gasoline engine with 382-horsepower coming from a turbocharged 3.0-liter that makes 369 pounds-feet of torque. Yes, a six-cylinder has returned to the 3-series.
Both the M340i and M340i xDrive Sedans are equipped with an 8-speed Sport Steptronic transmission with Launch Control. Manual transmissions have fallen by the wayside.
These new-Gen 3-series sedans are 2.9 inches longer, 0.6 inches wider and 0.5 inches taller. Overall body rigidity is up 25 percent, and in certain areas it’s up 50 percent. The increased rigidity of the body and suspension mountings enables suspension spring rates to be increased by 20 percent over the previous-generation 3-series sedan without loss of comfort. Body lightweighting, aluminum suspension components as well as an aluminum hood and front fenders helped to reduce overall weight.
Standard M Performance chassis tuning, rear-wheel-biased optional xDrive all-wheel drive and the standard M Sport rear differential will deliver a zero-to-60-mph time of 4.2 seconds. Top speed is 130 mph, or 155 mph with summer performance tires. A dual-pipe exhaust system features active exhaust control that lets you and the world around you hear that 382-HP.
Likewise the interior has been much refined and updated. Sport seats are standard. The increased size of the M340i provides a bit more front shoulder room and rear seat legroom. BMW has mounted the engine ignition start/stop button in the center console near the gearshift lever. The iDrive Controller and the buttons for the Driving Experience Control and electromechanical parking brake are also on the console along with the engine idle stop/start off-button.
The instrument cluster is a new design and the tablet-like Control Display is more integrated. Controls not included in these units are clustered info function panels. In the center of the instrument panel you’ll find the buttons for the air conditioning and the central air vents. The running-light functions are operated from a panel of buttons next to the steering wheel. BMW gesture control now works with two extra gestures, bringing the total to seven.
The 3-series now has an optional power trunk lid and also optional remote engine start (my wife was always wanting this).
There’s a complete array of Advanced Driver-Assist Systems (ADAS) safety features available. As well, the latest version of the Parking Assistance system takes care of steering, accelerating, braking and automatic transmission shifting. Also this system can now also be used to automatically maneuver out of parallel parking spaces.
I had a week’s time with a new 2020 M340i xDrive priced at $56,000, plus $995 for shipping. Lots of options drove the total MSRP to $69,570. It’s $2,000 less if you don’t opt for xDrive. Needless to say, many luxury, comfort and convenience features allow for broad customization.
There was no opportunity for me to track-drive the M340i. My around town jaunts proved comfortable. The engine delivers smooth performance and lots of rapid acceleration. The 8-speed automatic is quite refined and performs well. The xDrive pushes you nicely into a turn while also pulling you out very smoothly and confidently. The active exhaust provides a bit of entertaining tailpipe pop and burble. The optional 19-inch wheels with their staggered 225/40 front and 255/35 rear tires require some pothole dodging.
If the M340i with its 382-horsepower is a bit more performance than you need the new-generation 330i has a nicely performing 255-horsepower turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder. It’ll save you a few bucks too with its $40,750 base MSRP. More model details and specifications on the 2020 BMW 3-Series can be found at www.bmwusa.com.
The new M340i begs to be driven. It’s a driver’s car. Great acceleration, great handling, great comfort, great sounds…they are all there. You don’t need a track to put it all to use. A stoplight provides a launching pad. A highway cloverleaf can be an adrenaline rush.
© 2019 Larry Nutson, the Chicago Car Guy