Is this the BMW M340i xDrive in its perfect specification?

When we were thrown the keys to this 2023 BMW M340i xDrive Sedan, I quickly realised it would be my dream 3 Series… if not for the silver metallic paintwork. I’d try for a BMW Individual green finish or the brand’s gorgeous M Portimao Blue metallic.

With sleeper looks, a gorgeous tan leather interior and the brand’s signature inline six lurking beneath the bonnet, the M340i is quintessential 3 Series in concept, and is the pick of the range if you plan to drive it daily.

The flagship M3 Competition is a little out there and arguably too harsh for everyday duties, though many buyers will choose to drive these track-capable monsters to and from work. BMW’s M Performance range tends to strike a near-perfect balance between bahn-storming performance and daily usability.

Having recently driven the plug-in hybrid 330e, which makes a lot of sense as a modern executive sports sedan in its own right, I was keen to see whether it was worth shelling out for the six-cylinder 3 Series as the pick of the line-up.

The conclusion? Well, read on!

How much does the BMW M340i xDrive cost?

While the bulk of the facelifted 3 Series range went up in price, the M340i actually got a price cut.

Listing from $104,990 before on-roads, the 2023 M340i xDrive Sedan is closer in price to the old M340i xDrive Pure, which was $101,900 as recently as last year. It’s also a $7000 reduction on the equivalent model from the pre-update range.

Key rivals include the Audi S4 Sedan ($106,200) and the Mercedes-AMG C43 4MATIC ($134,900). Interestingly, the Audi and BMW are much more affordable despite offering six-cylinder power, while the AMG runs a four-pot mill.

Other high-powered luxury sedans include the Genesis G70 3.3T Sport (from $75,067), Polestar 2 Long Range Dual Motor (from $73,400) and Tesla Model 3 Performance (from $86,900).

The Alfa Romeo Giulia is notably absent from this list at the moment while we wait for the facelifted model to arrive in Australia, while the Jaguar XE no longer offers a six-cylinder model or one with equivalent performance.

2023 BMW 3 Series pricing:

  • BMW 320i Sedan: $78,900
  • BMW 330i Sedan: $93,400
  • BMW 330i Touring: $94,400
  • BMW 330e Sedan: $97,400
  • M340i xDrive Sedan: $104,990

Prices are before on-road costs

What is the BMW M340i xDrive like on the inside?

Not a whole lot is different in the cabin to the 330e M Sport I reviewed a couple months back.

The Life Cycle Impulse (LCI) update – BMW’s term for ‘facelift’ – brought a slew of changes to the 3 Series inside and out.

Headlining the changes is the Live Cockpit Professional which blends a 12.3-inch digital instrument display with a massive 14.9-inch central touchscreen in one big ol’ tablet-like housing.

Not only is there a new display, the BMW Operating System 8 interface is new, having debuted in the iX electric SUV and sporting a distinct design and layout compared to OS.7.0.

While it’s a new take on the lauded iDrive system, as noted in other recent BMW reviews I find Operating System 8 to be a step backwards in ergonomics and usability, even if the graphics and animations are gorgeous.

The main menu is similar to iDrive systems of old, but going deeper into the menus reveals the removal of various hard buttons and shortcuts has added one or two extra sets to the digital menus and interface.

BMW has made the menus denser and less intuitive – giving the main menu for example heaps of individual icons for various functions and menus rather than grouping them into sub-menus of broader stuff like it did before.

Even the air-conditioning controls have moved to the touchscreen. While I usually lament touchscreen-based climate controls, BMW’s system keeps the temperature permanently at the base of the screen, and if you set it up once and leave everything in Auto, you’d rarely need to dive through the menus and adjust stuff.

BMW has thankfully retained the iDrive rotary controller in the 3 Series, complete with hard button shortcuts, and most of the time you can either use the intelligent “Hey BMW” voice assistant or wireless Apple CarPlay/Android Auto for other stuff while you’re on the move.

Other features include native satellite navigation with live traffic updates, DAB+ radio and BMW ConnectedDrive services; the latter facilitating over-the-air (OTA) software updates. The standard 16-speaker harman/kardon sound system is grouse, with clear, deep sound and thumping bass.

I absolutely love the new M Sport seats that are standard from the 330i and up, and in the M340i you get the option of delicious Cognac leather, which is a great take on the classic tan colourway. If only you could sub out the grainy Vernasca hide for BMW’s beautiful Merino – I’m sure a BMW Individual build could get you that.

The front seats have full electric adjustment and are supremely comfortable and supportive. I did a couple of longer stints behind the wheel and felt amply supported so when I got out of the car I wasn’t aching or sore, and didn’t feel the need to constantly adjust my posture when driving.

While the new seats are great, some of other cockpit changes aren’t. The stubby e-shifter is reminiscent of the unit debuted in the 911, but this one is even less satisfying to operate – BMW, why’d you get rid of the wand?

The M steering wheel is still great, and still keeps switchgear for stuff like the adaptive cruise following distance. Thank God, because the new 7 Series and iX have relegated that to a fiddly touchscreen menu.

Storage remains a strong point too, with big door bins, a wireless phone charger shelf ahead of cupholders all under a damped lid, and a deep centre cubby. Sporty doesn’t have to mean impractical.

In the second row, my 6’1 frame can sit behind my preferred driving position just fine, with good head, knee and leg room. There are also plenty of amenities to keep you comfortable when you’re back there.

Rear air vents with a third zone of climate control are luxurious inclusions, as are the dual USB-C charge ports to keep your devices juiced. Interestingly, there aren’t map pockets behind the M Sport front seats, which also hinder forward visibility for kids and shorter adults – something to consider if you have passengers prone to carsickness.

There are bottle holders in the door pockets, as well as the requisite ISOFIX anchors on the outboard seats, and top-tether points across all three rear positions. A fold-down centre armrest with cupholders wraps things up nicely.

If you’re considering a 3 Series as an alternative family car to an SUV, I’ll note the added width of something like the related X3 will go a long way if you seat three across the back often, and the bigger windows allows for better outward visibility.

Should you need to only carry two in the rear the 3 Series Sedan will do you just fine, and if you need more carrying capacity you can get yourself into the 330i Touring.

The M340i xDrive quotes 480L of capacity under the bootlid, matching other non-hybrid 3 Series variants. For reference, the 330e’s battery pack reduces that to 375L.

It’s a nice, square cargo area with a netted nook for smaller items and remote releases to fold the rear seats. The middle seat also has a ski port if you need to stow longer items without impeding on the two outer seats.

As standard the M340i gets Michelin Pilot Sport 4S performance tyres and a tyre repair kit, unlike regular 3 Series models and their standard runflat units. The inflation kit lives under the boot floor, though you can also option runflats.

What’s under the bonnet?

Power comes from a 3.0-litre turbocharged inline six petrol engine shared with other M40i models.

Outputs are rated at 285kW (5800-6500rpm) and 500Nm (1800-5000rpm), channelled to a rear-biased xDrive all-wheel drive system via an eight-speed automatic transmission and an M Sport Differential on the rear axle.

The M Sport Differential, specific to the M340i in the core 3 Series range, is an electronically-controlled limited-slip diff that helps vector torque between the rear wheels to improve traction and power delivery when cornering.

BMW claims the all-paw M340i can dash from 0-100km/h in just 4.4 seconds, which is about as quick than the previous-generation M3. During filming Paul Maric managed a 4.26s run, which is bloody quick in anyone’s books.

Flat out, you’ll hit an electronically-limited top speed of 250km/h… Not that you’ll ever hit that in strictly-governed Australia.

Combined fuel consumption is 8.0L per 100km (claimed), with CO2 emissions of 182g/km. The fuel tank measures 59 litres and takes minimum 98 RON premium unleaded.

How does the BMW M340i xDrive drive?

The M340i proves why the 3 Series has long been lauded as the premium sports sedan benchmark.

From the moment you fire up that sweet inline six to when you’re gunning it on a freeway ramp, the M Performance 3er is so well rounded and balanced for any occasion, and you’re always having fun.

The silky smooth acceleration and distinctive exhaust are addictive, and you’ll find yourself more often than not winding down the windows and flicking into Sport every time you go through a tunnel or under a bridge to get an earful of that inline-six goodness.

With so much power and torque under your right foot, the M340i is effortless in more mundane environments like around the CBD, but has plenty in the bank for when you give it a squirt. It’s linear and immediate in its response.

It’s so sure footed at any speed that public roads almost feel too slow. On a stint at 100km/h on Melbourne’s Eastern Freeway and I could really get the sense that the M340i was itching to stretch its legs on a derestricted Autobahn at 250km/h – alas… we don’t have those in Australia.

The surety of all-wheel drive also inspires confidence, as you don’t have to be delicate with the throttle to avoid kicking out the rear as soon as the weather or road surface turn a little sketchy.

BMW’s version of the ZF eight-speed auto is very well suited to these grand tourers, with intuitive shifts that balance engine response with efficiency. Response to the steering-mounted paddles is also very good, meaning you can have a bit of fun shifting cogs yourself if you so desire.

It rides pretty well given how performance focused it is, too. With standard Adaptive M Suspension, you can leave it in Comfort and have a genuinely compliant ride that errs on the side of firm, but does an excellent job isolating the cabin from hits while also maintaining a vault-like level of security at speed and in corners.

Same goes for the steering, which has enough weight and feedback to stay engaging but isn’t laborious for low-speed, tight manoeuvres like inner-city streets and car parks.

Turn the dial up and that taut chassis and meaty steering combine with grippy all-wheel drive traction and a keen front end to show you what the 3 Series is all about – rear-biased, inline six thrills.

It’s very clearly focused on driver engagement, and is beautifully tuned and calibrated in every measure to make the car feel like an extension of the driver. It’s a very sharp tool.

BMW’s full suite of driver assistance systems are present in the M340i, and should now have made their way back into the 330i and 330e after being unavailable for the bulk of last year due to component shortages.

Driving Assistant Professional with Steering & Lane Control Assistant is easily one of my favourite semi-autonomous assists available right now. It so intuitively keeps the 3 Series in its lane while accelerating and braking to keep a safe distance from a leading vehicle, and very deftly handles traffic jams.

It means you can let the car deal with the tedious aspects of peak-hour commuting for you, provided you keep your hands on the wheel. There’s also blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert, which are always good to have, as well as a surround camera system with 3D View – there’s no excuse for gutter rash on those 19-inch alloys.

Our test car’s Michelin Pilot Sport 4S tyres no more vocal in the cabin than the run flats of other models, meaning all that grip and performance don’t have to come at the cost of refinement.

What do you get?

320i highlights:

  • 18-inch M light alloy wheels
  • M High-gloss Shadow Line package
  • M Aerodynamics package
  • M Sport Suspension
  • Variable sport steering
  • LED headlights
  • High-Beam Assistant
  • Electric folding, heated side mirrors
  • Anti-dazzle driver’s side mirror
  • Anti-dazzle rear-view mirror
  • Rain sensor (auto wipers)
  • Active Cruise Control with stop&go
  • Head-up display
  • Driving Assistant
    • Lane departure warning
    • Lane change warning
    • Front collision warning
    • Front brake intervention (AEB)
    • Rear cross traffic alert
    • Rear collision prevention (AEB)
  • Parking Assistant
    • Park Distant Control front, rear
    • Lateral Parking Aid
    • Reversing camera
  • BMW Live Cockpit Professional
    • 12.3-inch instrument display
    • 14.9-inch HD touchscreen infotainment display
    • BMW Operating System 8
  • Wireless smartphone charging
  • Wireless Apple CarPlay, Android Auto
  • 10-speaker HiFi Loudspeaker system, 205W amplifier
  • BMW TeleServices
  • BMW Intelligent Personal Assistant (Hey BMW)*
  • Remote Software Update (OTA)*
  • Connected Package Professional*
    • Remote Services
    • Real-time Traffic Information
  • Alcantara/Sensatec upholstery
  • 1 x USB-A and 1 x USB-C ports in front
  • 2 x USB-C ports in rear
  • 3-zone automatic climate control
  • Sport seats, front
  • Electric front seats incl. driver memory
  • Floor mats
  • Ambient interior lighting
  • Galvanic Embellishers for controls
  • M Interior trim finishers in Aluminium Rhombicle
  • M leather steering wheel
  • 40:20:40 split seats incl. through-loading system

*3-year subscription

330i adds:

  • 19-inch M light alloy wheels
  • Adaptive M Suspension
  • M Sport Brakes incl. Blue painted calipers
  • Driving Assistant Professional
    • Cross traffic warning front, rear
    • Steering and Lane Control Assistant
    • Lane keeping assistant
    • Side Collision Warning
    • Crossroads warning
    • Evasion Aid
  • Parking Assistant Plus
    • Active Park Distance Control front, rear (sensors)
    • Reversing Assistant
    • Surround View (360 cameras)
    • Panorama View
    • 3D View
  • Vernasca leather upholstery
  • Auto tailgate
  • Instrument panel in Sensatec leatherette
  • M Sport Seats
  • Lumbar support, front

330e adds:

  • Acoustic protection for pedestrians
  • Mode 2 charging cable
  • Mode 3 charging cable

M340i xDrive adds:

  • 19-inch M light alloy wheels in Bicolour Jet Black
  • BMW kidney grille in Pearl Chrome
  • Tailpipes in Black Chrome
  • M exterior mirror caps in high-gloss Black
  • M Rear Spoiler in body colour
  • Tyre repair kit
  • Adaptive LED headlights
  • M Sport Differential
  • BMW xDrive
  • 16-speaker Harman Kardon surround sound, 464W amplifier
  • Glass roof, electric

Option Packages

Executive Package: $2000

  • Tyre pressure monitoring
  • Acoustic glazing
  • BMW Drive Recorder
  • Remote engine start
  • Heated steering wheel

M Sport Pro Package: $2800

  • M Sport Brakes, high-gloss Red
  • M Lights Shadowline
  • M high-gloss Shadowline, extended
  • M rear spoiler in Black Sapphire
  • M seat belts

Note: The above option package pricing and contents is specific to the M340i xDrive Sedan. There are also a number of single-item options available at extra cost.

Colours

Non-metallic: $NCO

Metallic: $2000

  • Black Sapphire
  • Melbourne Red
  • Mineral White
  • M Portimao Blue
  • M Brooklyn Grey
  • Skyscraper Grey

BMW Individual: $3850

  • Dravit Grey
  • Tanzanite Blue

Is the BMW M340i xDrive safe?

The pre-update BMW 3 Series was crash tested by ANCAP in 2019 and received a five-star safety rating – though this doesn’t apply to the M340i xDrive, which remains unrated by ANCAP and Euro NCAP.

It scored 97 per cent for adult occupant protection, 87 per cent for child occupant protection, 87 per cent for vulnerable road user protection, and 77 per cent for safety assist.

Standard safety features include:

  • 8 airbags
  • Active Cruise Control with Stop&Go (up to 210km/h)
  • Driving Assistant
    • Lane departure warning
    • Lane change warning
    • Front collision warning
    • Front brake intervention (AEB)
    • Rear cross traffic alert
    • Rear collision prevention (AEB)
  • Parking Assistant
    • Park Distant Control front, rear
    • Lateral Parking Aid
    • Reversing camera

330i adds:

  • Driving Assistant Professional
    • Cross traffic warning front, rear
    • Steering and Lane Control Assistant
    • Lane keeping assistant
    • Side Collision Warning
    • Crossroads warning
    • Evasion Aid
  • Parking Assistant Plus
    • Active Park Distance Control front, rear (sensors)
    • Reversing Assistant
    • Surround View (360 cameras)
    • Panorama View
    • 3D View

How much does the BMW M340i xDrive cost to run?

The BMW line-up is now covered by a five-year, unlimited-kilometre warranty as of October 1, 2022.

No longer does the Bavarian marque trail behind rival luxury brands in the ownership support stakes.

As for servicing, BMW offers a five-year/80,000km Service Inclusive Basic maintenance package priced at $1800.

We saw an indicated 8.8 litres per 100km during our time with the M340i, which included mixed drive conditions with a good serving of both city and urban commuting as well as freeway stints.

Considering the engine capacity and performance on offer, that’s not bad. Even better, it’s within 1L of BMW’s combined claim (8.0L/100km).

CarExpert’s Take on the BMW M340i xDrive

This is easily the best 3 Series on sale today.

Despite its six-figure price tag, the M340i xDrive shapes up as the best value 3er in the local range following its mid-life update, thanks to its significant price reduction as well as the also significant increases of lesser versions.

The $10,000 over the 330i gets you quite a bit more desirable bits; two extra cylinders, 95kW and 100Nm more grunt, the added traction of rear-biased all-wheel drive with limited-slip differential, as well as added tech like adaptive LED headlights, a standard premium audio system, heated front seats, and a sunroof.

Add some of those feature items on the 330i and you’ll see that $10,000 gap in pricing shrink quite quickly, without the gains in performance.

Plus, you get bragging rights courtesy of the inline six – the only core 3 Series model to offer six cylinders – as well as the M Performance badge on the boot lid. It’ll smoke most things off the lights, but doesn’t say “look at me” like an M3.

The M340i, like the Audi S4, remains the perfect Gentleman’s or Gentlewoman’s Express for those who want something fast, fancy and fun that doesn’t draw a crowd.

I’ll take mine in BMW Individual Goodwood Green Metallic over a Cognac interior with carbon-fibre interior trim. Danke…

Click the images for the full gallery

MORE: Everything BMW 3 Series





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