Our 2020 BMW M340i Is Good But its Engine Is Even Better

David Beard
Photo credit: Marc Urbano - Car and Driver

From Car and Driver

Introduction

We can't deny the market's fascination with high-rise SUVs, crossovers, and trucks. The parking lot at our headquarters is full of the things. But, like a cinnamon roll needs icing, the world still needs sports sedans. Having subjected nine previous versions of the BMW 3-series to our long-term, 40,000-mile obstacle course, this iconic sports sedan is no stranger to our professional, and personal, lives. From deputy editor Tony Quiroga's time capsule of a 1992 325i, deputy testing director K.C. Colwell's high-mileage 2007 328i, and road warrior Keoni Koch's 2001 325xi wagon, no car outside of a Mazda Miata is more common on the we-bought-one-ourselves list than the 3-series. Count the 2020 M340i as the tenth official long-term test subject of its kind.

When the 3's current G20 generation debuted for 2019, it only was available with a 252-hp turbocharged 2.0-liter inline-four. Although that four-banger is a stellar powerplant, it left us yearning for more. With the next iteration of the full-Monty M3 still in the distance, we ordered up the hottest version of the current 3-series to date, the 382-hp M340i, complete with BMW's B58 turbocharged 3.0-liter inline-six mated to ZF's excellent eight-speed automatic transmission. Sadly, BMW no longer offers a manual transmission option on the everyday 3-series in the United States.

Photo credit: Marc Urbano - Car and Driver

We specified our M340i, which carries a relatively attractive base price of $54,995, with a coat of Portimao Blue paint for $550 and a black leather interior with blue stitching for another $1450. Things quickly added up from there. Safety systems such as lane departure warning, blind spot detection, and forward collision detection seemed like reasonable add-ons for $500, but the mandatory upgrade to the $1700 Driving Assistant Professional package for adaptive cruise control and lane-keeping assist did not. The $2100 Executive package adds adaptive LED headlamps with Laserlight (which provide variable illumination), automatic high beams, and a parking assistant, and our frosty mornings will be more tolerable with the $1400 heated seats and steering wheel, as well as with the $300 remote-start feature. A power-actuated trunk? That'll be another $250.

To complement the M340i's standard M Sport brakes and electronically controlled limited-slip differential, we selected the $700 adaptive dampers and the Cooling and High-Performance tire option for $1500. The latter provides an additional engine oil cooler, a more powerful cooling fan, and, obviously, summer tires. Our car's nearly $12K in options increased its bottom line to a not-insignificant $66,820.

Photo credit: Marc Urbano - Car and Driver

After trudging through BMW's 1200-mile break-in period, our 3-series hit the test track to stretch its legs, rather impressively so. While the M340i features a launch-control system for hasty getaways, we found that taking matters into our own hands and managing the turbo-six's silken thrust ourselves was the quickest way off the line. Ultimately, the M340i ripped off a 3.8-second zero-to-60-mph sprint and tore through the quarter-mile in 12.3 seconds at 115 mph. If you are wondering, those times are on pace with the last-generation M3.

We've griped about the 3-series's steering since the previous F30 generation launched in 2012. Although the G20 represents an improvement in that area versus its predecessor, the dull off-center movement and its numb connection to the road is not the steering fidelity that the M340i truly deserves. The chassis, however, is well-balanced and the optional 19-inch Michelin Pilot Sport 4S summer tires are hooked up, clinging to the skidpad with a stout 0.96 g of grip and returning a 155-foot stop from 70 mph.

The M340i isn't just a numbers car, though. On the street, the adaptive dampers provide a smooth ride over the open road yet can firm up nicely when the pavement begins to twist into the shape of a rattlesnake. The Bimmer's cabin is hushed at cruising speeds, and its stonking engine has a timid side that can be buttery smooth around town. As of this writing we're averaging 24 mpg in mixed driving, just 1 mpg shy of the EPA's combined estimate. Within the first few weeks of taking delivery, we sacrificed a front tire to a Michigan pot hole, requiring a tow to the local dealership and $378 out of our pockets for a replacement.

Photo credit: Marc Urbano - Car and Driver

Perhaps our emotions have been dulled by the onslaught of SUVs and crossovers that have taken over our long-term fleet. Or, the onset of winter has just turned the ink of our long-termer's logbook pen to jelly, as only one comment lives within its pages thus far. "I look forward to spending more time with the M340i,"scribbled senior editor Joey Capparella. Undoubtedly, his words speak for the entire C/D staff. A powertrain this sweet is a solid foundation to a lasting relationship. But will the disconnectedness between human and road provided by the M340i's helm result in a soul-less affair? Stick around, we've got roughly 36,000 miles still to go.

Months in Fleet: 2 months Current Mileage: 3606 miles
Average Fuel Economy: 24 mpg
Fuel Tank Size: 15.6 gal Observed Fuel Range: 370 miles
Service: $0 Normal Wear: $0 Repair: $0
Damage and Destruction: $378



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