Colin-on-cars reviews the BMW 340i xDrive

Absence, they say, makes the heart grow fonder and, while there is truth in that, it also serves to dim the memory by removing all the tactile sensations of the moment that was.

The lengthy lockdown for Covid-19 did just that. With no cars to test for more than a month, the sensation of being in control of a responsive and agile piece of motoring kit dimmed and faded – so the arrival of the BMW 340i xDrive generated a higher than usual level of enthusiasm and anticipation.

Those emotions were not unfounded and getting the car angry for the first time not unlike that first nicotine hit after a long and tedious international flight. That moment when a spider-shudder starts in the small of your back and rushes up your spine to smack you in the back of the head.

It was worth the wait.

With acceleration guaranteed to pull the wrinkles on your face straight, grip levels approaching astonishing, excellent brakes and an overall driveability covering the full spectrum from shopping cart to race-ready – and, on the former, the likelihood is you would choose to take the longest route possible to go and pick up that loaf of bread.

The BMW M340i xDrive sedan is powered by a straight six-cylinder petrol engine with 275 kW. Together, high engine performance, M-specific suspension technology and intelligent four-wheel drive provide for outstanding driving dynamics.

Based on the vehicle concept of the BMW 3 Series sedan, which is oriented towards sporting driving pleasure it makes full use of a low centre of gravity, optimised weight, well-balanced axle load distribution as well as increased body rigidity and uprated suspension mountings.

The M Sport suspension, variable sports steering, an M Sport differential, the M Sport brake system and 18-inch M light alloy wheels with mixed tyres are all standard equipment features for the BMW M340i xDrive Sedan.

The 3,0-litre engine features an aluminium crankcase and an aluminium cylinder head. The turbo-charging system, which was constructed according to the TwinScroll principle, has also been redeveloped. The integration of the compact steel exhaust manifold and turbo-charger produces rapid boost pressure development.

Fuel supply is performed by means of high precision injection technology, the injectors of which now operate at an injection pressure increased to up to 350 bar. The current version of M TwinPower Turbo technology is complemented by fully variable valve control VALVETRONIC and variable camshaft control Double VANOS.

Fuel consumption on a ‘normal’ average can be contained to around 7,9 l/100 but expect more in the 8,6 l/100 range as it is just too difficult to resist the temptation to boogie to the ‘phwap phwap’ exhaust tones as it sprints upwards through the gears and projectile-launches down the tarmac.

The sound in the Sport and Sport+ modes, which can be activated via the Driving Experience Control switch, emanates via the valve-controlled exhaust system that generates a particularly distinctive tone.

The drive technology, provides the six-cylinder with an increase in output by 35 kW to 275 kW versus the most powerful engine previously used for the BMW 3 Series, as well as an increase in maximum torque by 50 Nm to 500 Nm.

The BMW M340i xDrive completes the sprint from 0 to 100 km/h in 4,4 seconds – half a second faster than the top-of-the-range model of the previous generation of the BMW 3 Series Sedan.

The BMW M340i xDrive Sedan comes as standard with the 8-speed Steptronic sports transmission of the latest generation, which is characterised by short ratios for the lower gears to improve acceleration. Launch Control can be used for accelerating with maximum dynamics from a standstill.

Shift paddles on the steering wheel facilitate manual gear selection at any time.

With fully variable power distribution between the front and rear axle, the intelligent four-wheel drive technology has a rear-wheel bias and is strongly effective in the driver experience control modes Sport and Sport+.

The targeted transfer of drive force to the rear wheels enhances agility when steering into bends, helping to eliminate the front-end push that often characterises all-wheel drive cars being pressed hard into a corner.

It is also equipped as standard with the M Sport differential. The electronically controlled, fully variable rear-wheel locking function noticeably contributes not only towards an increase in traction, but also enhances stability and agility of the vehicle.

Making it all happen on the road are a double-joint spring strut front axle and the five-arm rear axle, both of which have larger track widths and optimum wheel camber angles. It is also lower by 10 mm compared to its siblings and the M Sport suspension comprises M specific elastokinematics and the new lift-related damper control function. The Adaptive M suspension with electronically controlled dampers is also optionally available. 

The M sport brakes have a more direct ratio as well as a different hydraulic configuration including four-piston, fixed calliper brakes and 348 millimetres discs at the front and single-piston, floating calliper brakes with 345 millimetres discs at the rear.

Standard 18-inch M light alloy wheels are combined with mixed tyres. Up front are 225/45 R 18’s, whilst 255/40 R 18 tyres are used at the rear.

Not all the elements are hidden or under the bonnet and the 340i has its own design elements including the BMW kidney grille boasting a mesh design, rear spoiler in body colour and trapezoidal exhaust tailpipe trims.

The look is complemented by exterior mirror caps, air intake struts, the front surfaces of the BMW kidney grille, tailpipe trims and the model lettering all finished in Cerium Grey metallic.

Inside the car, sports seats with M-specific upholstery in a Sensatec/Alcantara trim, the anthracite BMW Individual roof liner, the M leather-clad steering wheel with shift paddles and interior trim strips in Aluminium Tetragon provide the ambience.

Obviously, being BMW, there are options available but these are personal choice items. The standard package is a car designed for people who like to, want to and need to drive with intent.

A motoring colleague described it as “a proper piece of kit” – and it is.

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