It's not the M3, but the BMW M340i xDrive still has the soul
The BMW M340i xDrive is a mid-range sports sedan that still offers the wild nature like the M3 Competition but can also be a smooth cruiser.
It's powered by a beefy six-cylinder turbocharged engine and a sports-tuned, all-wheel-drive chassis, priced at R1.36 million, R730,000 less than the BMW M3 Competition.
Exterior-wise, the M badge is worn gracefully for the front and back, commemorating BMW's 50th anniversary of the high-performance M division from 2022. Towards the rear, it features trapezoidal tailpipe trims, a body-coloured rear spoiler, and a mesh grille in the front-end design. It also incorporates Adaptive LED headlights, which give it an aggressive look, along with blue-painted brake callipers adorned with the M logo. But the overall layout looks sleek.
Inside the cabin, it features a new curved display. It combines a 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster with a 14.9-inch touchscreen system. It offers high-resolution pixels that adjust in colour to match the selected driving mode, transitioning from blue in Eco Pro to red in Sport.
You then have M electrically adjustable leather seats, and an M leather-wrapped steering wheel with shift paddles is also in the mix. Most functions are integrated into the sizable touchscreen and the iDrive mechanical controller between the seats.
Standard features include Sports suspension, ABS brakes, stability control, six airbags, a tyre pressure sensor, electric windows, blind spot warning, cruise control, park distance control, rain-sensing wipers, keyless access, and the infotainment comes with navigation.
The M340i motor delivers 285kW and 500Nm from the 3.0-litre straight-six engine, with an acceleration top speed of 250km/h. It can also do a 0-100km/h sprint in 4.4 seconds.
The BMW M340i's 3.0-litre straight-six engine is simply addictive, and the acoustics accompanying it are truly phenomenal, especially in Sport or Sport Plus mode. The car also offers Comfort and Eco Pro modes, which soften the sporty nature. It also re-calibrates the steering, drivetrain, and transmission settings, depending on the mode you opt for, which can be individually set to one's preference.
From the driving experience, power was sufficient, and I felt comfortable compared to the M3 Competition. On the open road, It feels sure-footed, and in high-speed corners, due to its sports suspension, it easily handles both fast and slow turns. Additionally, it features an M Sport differential with fully variable rear-wheel locking for enhanced control. It still offers much of the M performance attributes.
Fuel consumption from daily driving: I achieved 8.8l/100km; if you aim to be frugal, you can conserve 8l/100km.
It's got some practicality in it as well. Over the years, the 3 Series has evolved from a compact sedan into a more spacious vehicle. With a length of 4,713mm, it provides its occupants with ample room and a well-sized boot space of 480 litres.
The BMW M340i xDrive is exceptional and can be pretty efficient; it offers a more understated option that delivers substantial thrills at a significantly lower price point. It's downscaled but still a potent sports sedan.