Torque now peaks at 369lb ft, helping the M340i to hit 62mph half a second earlier than the previous quickest non-M3 3 Series, the 340i (of the now discontinued F-generation) - although, again, some of the gains made in away-from-the-line performance can be attributed to the standard fitment of xDrive. There's BMW's familiar 3.0-litre single-turbo (twin-scroll) straight-six, here featuring an aluminium crankcase and cylinder head, "compact" steel exhaust manifold and redeveloped turbo. The Adaptive M suspension with electronically controlled dampers is also optionally available. It is powered by a 3.0-litre twin-turbo straight-six sending power to the xDrive all-wheel-drive system channelled through an eight-speed Steptronic automatic gearbox. Short ratios for the lower gears improve acceleration and a Launch Control function can be used for showboating. It is the BMW M340i: a four-wheel-drive saloon that's quicker than an old V8 M3 saloon.
The new 3 Series will be launched in the country next year and considering the popularity of the M Sport models here, we could very well get the M340i, but not before 2020. The components of the double-joint spring strut front axle and the five-arm rear axle, both of which have been optimised in terms of weight and stiffness, enhance cornering dynamics and steering precision, as do the larger track widths and optimum wheel camber angles. Given its usability bandwidth and lower unit cost, the M340i might yet prove the pick of the range.
The vehicle sits 10mm lower than other 3ers on M Sport suspension, and the tracks are slightly wider. There's also a variable steering option, but experience suggests this one might be less desirable. Finally, you get some lovely blue paint plus M logos to finish off the four-piston front/single piston rear brake calipers. Standard 18-inch M light alloy wheels are combined with mixed tyres.
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The new BMW M340i xDrive Sedan's superior performance characteristics are reflected in model-specific design and equipment features.
Various model-specific styling features are also included, from the design of the front apron, side sills and rear spoiler to the trapezoidal exhaust trims. Furthermore, the front bumpers get an aggressive chiselled look and distinct Cerium Grey metallic trim finishes which are seen all around the vehicle.
Inside, there's sport seats trimmed in faux leather and Alcantara, or proper optional leather seats with contrast stitching.