Thursday 26th November 2020
Car Enthusiast - click here to access the home page

 



First drive: BMW 340i. Image by BMW.

First drive: BMW 340i
Conservative makeover for the BMW 3 Series, but BMW promises a sharper drive.

 



<< earlier review     later review >>

Reviews homepage -> BMW reviews

BMW 340i

4 4 4 4 4

As mid-life revisions go the BMW 3 Series' one is subtle, but chassis changes and a new engine line-up bring greater driver appeal, and improved economy and emissions, as well as more value.

Test Car Specifications

Model tested: BMW 340i Steptronic Auto
Price: 38,125
Engine: 3.0-litre turbocharged six-cylinder petrol
Transmission: eight-speed automatic, rear-wheel drive
Body style: four-door, five-seat saloon
CO2 emissions: 159g/km (Band G, 180 per year)
Combined economy: 41.5mpg
Top speed: 155mph
0-62mph: 5.1 seconds
Power: 326hp at 5,500- to 6,500rpm
Torque 450Nm at 1,380- to 5,000rpm

What's this?

Very obviously a 3 Series, as this mid-life refresh to BMW's biggest selling saloon is very subtle indeed. Deliberately BMW says, as the revisions for this revised 3 are under the largely unchanged skin. The stylists haven't been completely idle though; the headlights get a bit of a make-over, being further apart and, thanks to LED technology, they look slightly different; the rear lights have also been reshaped slightly. There are new exhaust finishers, too, with anything wearing a number greater than '20' on the back getting a pair of exhausts - that's sure to appeal to the countless 320d buyers out there.

The interior follows the same, less than revolutionary, route of the exterior changes. You'd probably have to be working on the line at the 3 Series plant fitting the dashboard to really notice, but there are some new materials on there. There's a new lidded cubby cover on the centre console apparently (yes, BMW really did point that out as a change over the old car), though given it feels less substantial than the one it replaces perhaps it shouldn't have.

How does it drive?

Although the 340i is hardly representative of most 3 Series sales in the UK, BMW was understandably keen to show off its new 3.0-litre TwinPower six-cylinder model, so that's all we got to drive at the international launch of the facelifted car. That's two cylinders, 1.0 litre and the wrong fuel for most buyers, as the 320d is by far the biggest seller in the range in Britain.

Regardless of what engine is under the bonnet, BMW's engineers are saying they've completely overhauled the suspension. Firmer dampers, a stiffer platform and revised spring and bush rates were all implemented in the aim for a sharper, more agile driving experience. As ever there are plenty of ways to customise it further and unsurprisingly the 340i, being a range-topper, is offered with several choice extras; BMW specified the test cars with its Adaptive M Sport suspension and Variable Sport Steering. The former offers three choices from Comfort through to Sport, but it's at its finest in Comfort mode, where there's plenty of control, too. Rarely will you find the need to stiffen it up further, as it's to the detriment of comfort.

It's as agile as you'd expect at all times, the 3 Series having fine balance, its ideal weight distribution and - in the 340i - plenty of power mean you really can enjoy its chassis. If you want it to steer properly, that's to say without an artificial weighting and inconsistent response, then avoid the Variable Sport Steering option, as it's not good. Obviously rear driven, the chassis works beautifully with the smooth new 3.0-litre turbocharged engine. Delivering lots of power without any perceivable turbo lag it sounds fantastic when you extend it to its upper revs, too.

The eight-speed Steptronic Sport automatic transmission - again an option - is a slick operator, juggling its numerous ratios almost imperceptibly and shifting on command with the paddle-shifters immediately. It'll block downshift if you hold the paddle in, matching the car's speed to its best gear and it works particularly well with the 340i's 3.0-litre six-cylinder petrol engine. This car is quicker as an automatic, too, by 0.1 seconds to 62mph, giving a 5.1-second time. Economy's unlikely to be at the front of your mind if you've gone for the fastest non-M badged 3 Series petrol model, but choosing the Steptronic Sport auto does mean a significantly better CO2 rating and improved economy over the standard manual - 159g/km vs. 179g/km and 41.5mpg instead of 36.7mpg.

Verdict

The BMW 3 Series has had its own way as the driver's choice for a long time, but this revision perhaps demonstrates BMW's concern that the competition is catching up. The revisions focus on the car's dynamic ability, along with an improved engine line-up with better economy and emissions across the entire range. It's been successful too, though the competition remains close, Mercedes-Benz's C-Class running it very close, the new Audi A4 as yet to be sampled but promising more of the same beautifully built appeal and Jaguar's new XE gunning for the 3 on both looks and driver appeal. The 3 Series is better then, but it's never been tougher out there for it; the changes are enough to keep it competitive, though you have to be careful how you specify it.

4 4 4 4 4 Exterior Design

4 4 4 4 4 Interior Ambience

3.5 3.5 3.5 3.5 3.5 Passenger Space

4 4 4 4 4 Luggage Space

4 4 4 4 4 Safety

4 4 4 4 4 Comfort

4 4 4 4 4 Driving Dynamics

4 4 4 4 4 Powertrain


Kyle Fortune - 20 Jul 2015









  www.bmw.co.uk    - BMW road tests
- BMW videos
- BMW news
- 3 Series images

2015 BMW 340i Sport. Image by BMW.2015 BMW 340i Sport. Image by BMW.2015 BMW 340i Sport. Image by BMW.2015 BMW 340i Sport. Image by BMW.2015 BMW 340i Sport. Image by BMW.

2015 BMW 340i Sport. Image by BMW.2015 BMW 340i Sport. Image by BMW.2015 BMW 340i Sport. Image by BMW.2015 BMW 340i Sport. Image by BMW.2015 BMW 340i Sport. Image by BMW.



2015 BMW 340i Sport. Image by BMW.
 

2015 BMW 340i Sport. Image by BMW.
 

2015 BMW 340i Sport. Image by BMW.
 

2015 BMW 340i Sport. Image by BMW.
 

2015 BMW 340i Sport. Image by BMW.
 

2015 BMW 340i Sport. Image by BMW.
 

2015 BMW 340i Sport. Image by BMW.
 

2015 BMW 340i Sport. Image by BMW.
 

2015 BMW 340i Sport. Image by BMW.
 






 

Internal links:   | Home | Privacy | Contact us | Archives | Follow Car Enthusiast on Twitter | Copyright 1999-2020 ©