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Driven: BMW M340d xDrive Touring. Image by BMW.

Driven: BMW M340d xDrive Touring
If youíre a fan of the Munich marque who has been put off by some of the recent styling Ďadventuresí, this blinding M340d ought to provide succour.

 



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BMW M340d xDrive Touring

5 5 5 5 5

Good points: such a fabulous, beautifully judged blend of performance car, practical wagon and refined cruiser, all in one package - the nigh-on perfect fast BMW Touring

Not so good: as ever, unrelenting brilliance of this level is rarely cheap

Key Facts

Model tested: BMW M340d xDrive Touring
Price: 3 Series Touring range from £34,430; M340d xDrive from £54,205, car as tested £61,645
Engine: 3.0-litre straight-six twin-turbo diesel with 48-volt mild-hybrid electric vehicle technology
Transmission: eight-speed Steptronic Sport, xDrive all-wheel drive with M Sport rear limited-slip differential
Body style: five-door mild-hybrid estate
CO2 emissions: 166g/km (VED Band 151-170: £555 in year one, then £490 per annum years two-six of ownership, then £155 annually thereafter)
Combined economy: 52.3mpg
Top speed: 155mph (limited)
0-62mph: 4.8 seconds
Power: 340hp at 4,400rpm
Torque: 700Nm at 1,750-2,250rpm
Boot space: 500-1,510 litres

Our view:

Let's suggest you're a BMW fanatic and, since the demise of the preposterously fragile E61 M5, you've been craving a proper, high-performance estate from Munich. Pickings have, of course, been thin on the ground. If, by 'thin', you mean 'non-existent'. Oh sure, BMW has dropped big engines into various Three and Five wagons in the interim, but none of them have had proper M badges affixed to their shapely rumps.

Then, from out of nowhere, the Bavarian concern announces that for the first time in the model line's glittering 35-year history, there's going to be an M3 Touring. It's almost enough to have a party in the streets... until you realise, with no small degree of horror, that it's going to have that face on it like the poor old M3 Competition saloon. So that's that car out of the running. Obviously.

You quite fancy an M340i Touring but you've driven one and found the whole experience of a 374hp petrol 3 Series curiously underwhelming. Also, you're weirdly not into Alpinas, which is frankly just odd behaviour and maybe you should go and see a specialist about it.

So what do you do? Well, redemption may be at hand with this vehicle. It's the M340d xDrive Touring and no, we've not 'done a typo' in the model name, instead meaning to write M340i. Despite a sudden exodus from 'Camp Diesel' by consumers in the wake of the Volkswagen cheating scandal and various emissions studies based around NOx, some manufacturers still believe in the validity of the compression-combustion fuel-type and BMW is one of them. Now, admittedly, you could just buy a 330d, which also comes in xDrive Touring format. And it'd cost you a lot less money. And it'd be a bit easier on juice. And it would feel probably every bit as fast and gratifying in most driving situations, if we're honest.

But this M340d... wow. What a car. What a splendid, beguiling, thoroughly majestic car it is. The critical evaluation starts with smashing exterior styling, not something you can easily say about many BMWs these days. About the only aesthetic sin our Tanzanite Blue (+£1,100) M340d committed was having black kidney grilles, 19-inch alloy wheels and body detailing, all part of an easily deleted £750 Shadowline Plus Pack. Other than that, to (somehow) try and quote the oft-used Michael Fassbender as Magneto GIF, perfection.

The inside isn't perfection, mainly because of BMW's strange digital instrument cluster which is still not our favourite graphical display in the world. But aside from that, the driving position, the finish and feel of all the major materials and interface points, the iDrive OS7.0 infotainment system, the particular colourway in our car (BMW Individual Ivory White full Merino leather at £2,750), the space in the back, the large 500-litre boot; what is there to complain about? Precious little, that's what.

And then you drive it. And you realise that big-hearted, mega-performance, monster-torque turbodiesels like this are, in their own way, going to be just as much-missed and lamented as some of the high-revving petrol masterpieces of the past, once the electric revolution has put internal combustion engines up against the wall and had them all shot as traitors. There is an accessible, effortless, intoxicating addictiveness about sampling what the M340d has to offer. Fully 700Nm of torque, which is way more than the M340i's 500Nm peak and even in excess of the devilish M3 Competition, more than makes up for the deficit of only having a 'mere' 340hp to play with. Clog the throttle in the M340d and gawp in wonder as sequential turbocharging, a 48-volt mild-hybrid electrical system doing torque infill, a whipcrack and flawless Steptronic automatic, and the tractive advantages of xDrive with a rear limited-slip differential all combine to fire a hefty 1,955kg Touring at the horizon as if it were a featherweight Ariel Atom.

Not only does the M340d go with astounding alacrity, it sounds terrific. You can hear the straight-six configuration of the cylinders as a background growl at all times but when you rev the B57 3.0-litre, there's a really marvellous, sporty edge to its voice. Sure, there's some sound augmentation going on here, almost certainly, but it never sets your teeth on edge nor does it come across as notably artificial. Flipped the other way, the straight-six engine is the epitome of hushed decorum when all it's doing is burring along the motorway in eighth at little more than tickover revs. Speaking of which, we did 226 miles in it during the week, with a best of 48.3mpg recorded on a relaxing, stress-free run down the A1. So if you need to go long distances in this thing, at that sort of consumption you'll get 630 miles from the M340d's 59-litre tank before needing to fill up again. Quite extraordinary.

But you don't buy an M-branded wagon for its cruising capacity, undoubtedly stellar though this BMW's abilities in that specific department are. Unless you specify them as a pricey extra, Adaptive M dampers are not standard-fit on the M340d, but if this test version is anything to go by then you honestly don't need them. Despite the low-profile 19s at each corner and a 10mm-lower ride height with tougher spring and shock absorber rates, the BMW rides with a graceful fluency that is completely at odds with its bonkers on-paper performance stats. Of course you sense larger bumps and ridges in the road surface, but at no point does the Touring crash and stomp about the place, instead covering ground with a tautly controlled magnificence that is little short of sheer genius.

And then you fling it into corners with some gusto, and you realise why you've paid the extra to add an M and switch a 3 to a 4, over and above a 330d's badge. An M Performance steering wheel that is not too fat in your hands controls steering with wonderful accuracy, immediate responses and good weighting. It's perhaps a touch too stodgy in its more aggressive modes but there's a configurable setting in the BMW's iDrive menus so simply team the softer steering to the most hardcore drivetrain choices.

Thus set up, the M340d feels every inch the genuine performance car; a machine which thoroughly merits the M-badge and tricolour stripes of BMW's high-performance arm. It balances epic wheel control and a flat body in the corners with a degree of delicacy, some genuine rear-axle adjustability on the throttle thanks to its M Sport diff, so that caning it along your favourite road doesn't simply descend into an uninvolving point-and-go, xDrive-empowered borefest. You get the M340d Touring into a flowing groove, you know that you've elicited that speed from it, rather than the car's electronic systems doing it all for you.

So yeah, this is a 62-grand 3 Series Touring and a 330d would be a fine second prize. But second prize it most definitely would be, because the M340d xDrive Touring isn't just a great diesel wagon; it's a comprehensively tremendous performance estate no matter what drivetrain configuration you want to consider. M3 Touring? You can keep it, mate. The factory-built successor to the E61 M5 has finally arrived and it's chuffing spectacular. We want one of our own, with every fibre of our being.

Alternatives:

Audi S4 Avant: Audi's one-level-from-the-top performance model of the A4 Avant range has switched from petrol to diesel power. Sure-footed and super-swift in all conditions, the Audi nevertheless isn't as good to drive as the M340d. Familiar story, eh?

Mercedes-AMG C 43 Estate: Mercedes-AMG doesn't offer a diesel alternative to the M340d, instead providing a C 43 wagon which has a 390hp V6. It's a rapid machine but its ride quality isn't quite as assured as the diesel Touring.

Volvo V60 T8 Polestar Engineered: the V60 looks magnificent inside and out, and the Polestar Engineered cars drive brilliantly. It's whether you think a 2.0-litre, four-cylinder plug-in hybrid drivetrain matches an inline-six turbodiesel that matters most here.


Matt Robinson - 2 Feb 2021









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2021 BMW M340d xDrive Touring M Sport UK test. Image by BMW.2021 BMW M340d xDrive Touring M Sport UK test. Image by BMW.2021 BMW M340d xDrive Touring M Sport UK test. Image by BMW.2021 BMW M340d xDrive Touring M Sport UK test. Image by BMW.2021 BMW M340d xDrive Touring M Sport UK test. Image by BMW.

2021 BMW M340d xDrive Touring M Sport UK test. Image by BMW.2021 BMW M340d xDrive Touring M Sport UK test. Image by BMW.2021 BMW M340d xDrive Touring M Sport UK test. Image by BMW.2021 BMW M340d xDrive Touring M Sport UK test. Image by BMW.2021 BMW M340d xDrive Touring M Sport UK test. Image by BMW.








 

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