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First drive: 2023 BMW M340i xDrive Saloon. Image by BMW.

First drive: 2023 BMW M340i xDrive Saloon
What better way to showcase the updates to the 3 Series than with its flagship model?


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2023 BMW M340i xDrive Saloon

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The BMW 3 Series is an incredibly popular car, so changing the recipe is a risk. That's why BMW has approached the car's mid-life update with caution, tweaking bits here and there rather than making wholesale changes to the car's DNA. We tested the range-topping M340i xDrive model to find out whether these subtle changes hit the spot.

Test Car Specifications

Model: 2023 BMW M340i xDrive Saloon
Price: 3 Series from £37,805, M340i xDrive Saloon from £54,805
Engine: 3.0-litre turbocharged straight six petrol
Transmission: eight-speed automatic, all-wheel drive
Power: 374hp
Torque: 500Nm
Emissions: 177-192g/km
Economy/Range: 33.2-36.2mpg
0-62mph: 4.4 seconds
Top speed: 155mph
Boot space: 480 litres


Every version of the 3 Series has enjoyed a mild visual update, but the changes are subtle. Base cars get new headlights and new bumpers, as well as a reprofiled grille. That continues to the M Sport models, which also get a new lower grille, and the M Performance cars such as this M340i xDrive, which is set apart by its standard black exterior trim and its aerodynamic door mirrors. In truth, the updates are very minor indeed, but they do make the car look very slightly more modern than its predecessor.


It’s inside where the 3 Series has changed most radically. BMW has fitted the new Operating System 8, with its curved display that incorporates the digital instrument display and the touchscreen infotainment system. The system works well, and that’s important because BMW has removed a lot of the buttons and put the functions in the screen. That includes the heater controls, which would normally set alarm bells ringing in our book, but the system works surprisingly well in the new 3 Series. We’d still rather have buttons – particularly given how good the quality of the BMW cabin is – but at least it looks clean and modern. And, as before, the material and build quality is hugely impressive.


Because the new 3 Series is pretty much exactly the same as its predecessor, there's no difference to the car's practicality. That means the saloon still has ample cabin space for four, while the 480-litre boot ought to be enough for most customers' needs. If you do need more, there's always the Touring estate, which doesn't look much bigger on paper but offers more flexibility thanks to its more accessible and more usefully shaped luggage bay.


As before, the new 3 Series comes with a choice of petrol and diesel engines, as well as a plug-in hybrid option. Most of those engines are 2.0-litre units – the old 330d has sadly departed – and the only 3.0-litre options are the M340i xDrive petrol we tested and the M340d xDrive diesel. Both offer well over 300hp, creating a kind of halfway house between the ‘conventional’ 2.0-litre options and the more powerful, performance-orientated M3.

Not that the M340i xDrive is short on performance. The smooth 3.0-litre straight-six engine pumps out 374hp, then sends it to all four wheels via an eight-speed automatic gearbox. The combination is enough to take the 3 Series from 0-62mph in 4.4 seconds and on to a top speed of 155mph. In many ways, the diesel is more appealing, thanks to its similar performance and superior economy – it’ll do well over 40mpg – but the petrol engine is more refined and it provides a lovely growl when it’s pushed.

Ride & Handling

Handling was the old 3 Series’ forte, and enthusiasts will be pleased to note little has changed. The new 3 Series is still great to drive in any guise, but this M340i xDrive Saloon is even more poised than most. That’s thanks to model-specific suspension and the rear-biased all-wheel-drive system, which is standard on the M340 cars but optional elsewhere in the range. As a result, the 3 Series has tons of grip, near-perfect balance and beautifully weighted controls that make it a delight to guide through corners. Of course, it’s big and heavy – it’s an executive saloon – but it’s as close to a sports car as a four-door saloon can get without completely stuffing the ride. In this sporty guise, and in lowlier M Sport form, the 3 Series can feel a little stiff, but it’s far from intolerable. And when you consider the excellent body control, it’s hard to criticize.


The new 3 Series starts at just under £38,000, which makes it comparable with rivals from Mercedes-Benz and Audi. But this M340i xDrive model costs £17,000 more, and you don't get an awful lot of equipment for the money. Sure, there's all the M340i kit, including the suspension, brakes and differential, but in-car upgrades are limited to sports seats trimmed in real leather and a few visual tweaks, such as the black exterior trim.


By and large, BMW has nailed the new 3 Series. Whether the new touchscreen is an improvement is up for debate, but it certainly isn't a significant downgrade. And if money is no object, this M340i xDrive model is the best example of the breed, giving customers a chance to enjoy a great driving experience from a car with less outrageous styling and a less hardcore set-up than the M3.

James Fossdyke - 13 Oct 2022    - BMW road tests
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2023 BMW M340i xDrive Saloon LCI. Image by BMW.2023 BMW M340i xDrive Saloon LCI. Image by BMW.2023 BMW M340i xDrive Saloon LCI. Image by BMW.2023 BMW M340i xDrive Saloon LCI. Image by BMW.2023 BMW M340i xDrive Saloon LCI. Image by BMW.

2023 BMW M340i xDrive Saloon LCI. Image by BMW.2023 BMW M340i xDrive Saloon LCI. Image by BMW.2023 BMW M340i xDrive Saloon LCI. Image by BMW.2023 BMW M340i xDrive Saloon LCI. Image by BMW.2023 BMW M340i xDrive Saloon LCI. Image by BMW.


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