Friday, February 2, 2018

Pathological drives the benchmark 3-series (340Xi)

Image result for bmw 340i no copyright
The old argument of young wine vs old wine certainly doesn’t apply to the BMW 3-series. Whether it’s young or aged, the 3-series sedan really is the crème de la crème of the luxury sport sedan segment. The only car that has come close to beating it is the Jaguar XE.

The 3-series offers several engine options. We are only going to focus on the mainstream forms. 320 trim gets a 2-liter turbocharged four-cylinder pumping out the least powerful 180hp. 328d uses a 2-liter turbo diesel pumping out 180hp. Our favorite 330 trim uses an updated 2-liter turbocharged four-cylinder pumping out 248hp. The 330e hybrid uses the same 2-liter turbo engine with an electric motor to pump out 248hp. Top of the range 340 trim gets a silky smooth 3-liter turbocharged six-cylinder pumping out 320hp. We managed to test drive both the 330 and 328d engines on the 3-series touring which we loved very much so on this 3-series sedan we managed to get our hands on the 340 trim which came with all-wheel-drive and the M-sport package.

It’s hard to fault the 340 driving dynamics as it is sheer perfection. Steering feedback is communicative and the chassis blends comfort and agility so well that it can shame some expensive key rivals. We do however wish that it didn’t come at a cost, the Adaptive M Suspension (which our tester car came kitted with) is only optional kit and well at this price point it should be at least standard. You can adjust the suspension however way you’d want it. We had ours in comfort mode because well the ride is just way too harsh in sport mode but the tradeoff is that it handles superbly and with such finesse. The only other car that would leave it shaking in its boots would be of course the Jaguar XE.

The 340 interior is typical BMW minimalistic. It’s not as plain as the XE but you’ll appreciate the British understatement that the Jag has over the BMW. However, the Jag infotainment system is a complete and utter disaster while the BMW’s iDrive is so much easier to navigate through. The controls and dials don’t feel as fiddly to use and the overall quality feels a step up over the Jag. The interior doesn’t feel as narrow either with plenty of space for four, while a fifth person could fit abreast in the rear seat, it does feel like it would be a bit of a squeeze. The boot space is about the same as in the XE.

Our 340 came equipped with heated steering wheel, heated front and rear seats. Adaptive full-LED headlights, automatic high beams, Harman Kardon surround sound system, rain sensing windshield wipers and dual-zone climate control. This and the XE are pretty much tied when it comes to standard kit. We were surprised however that we found a 340 on the dealer lot with a manual gearbox which seems to be a class rarity these days.

The 340 is probably one of the best sedans you can buy and the only other rival is the XE which does give the 340 a real run for its money. You’ll have to really want a 3-series to overlook all the rivals that offer similar performance for way less money, but not many of them hold their residuals as well and not many of them are as poised as the 3-series. The only other car that can even come close is the XE and that’s it.

Likes: The turbo six-cylinder engine is silky smooth and the driving experience is simply superb.

Dislikes: The best engine is the most expensive. Plus our tester car which was kitted out had a price tag that induced sticker shock.

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