Sadly, I find the number of vehicles that speak ― and I mean truly speak ― to the heart of the car enthusiast is dwindling. While on the surface there are a few that seem to fit the bill, upon closer inspection you discover their deceptive nature and their every-man design. Not at all enthusiast-bred.
Thankfully, companies like BMW are making cars like the all-new 2016 BMW 340i xDrive to keep people like you and me grinning from ear to ear, and also to keep that small flicker of hope alive that this type of cars won’t disappear into the ether any time soon.
When I first got behind the wheel of the 340i, I really had no idea what to expect. As the quickest 3 Series model and the only one to feature an inline-6 engine ― save for the mighty M3, of course ― this unassuming sedan had a lot to prove. And it did.
Love at first sight
As BMW exterior designs have evolved over the years, so too has my love for their look. I understand the need for change, but also for the want and desire to stay the same. While BMW has made ever so subtle styling updates over the years and generations, they’ve managed to stay true to a certain design language that maintains an air of sophistication and pride on the road.
My particular tester, a 2016 BMW 340i xDrive equipped with an M-Sport package that graced it with a slightly beefier front bumper and a fabulous set of black multi-spoke M-Sport wheels, really stood out from the pack. There was also the deep brown/purple/maroon paint colour (it changed under the sun and truly was a super colour choice for said vehicle) that had me oohing and aahing every time I approached it.
This machine turned heads and received some serious attention out in the world, as well. In fact, I’ve never been in a BMW 3 Series ― again, not counting the M3 ― that garnered as much attention as the 340i did.
Inside, typical BMW design and layout are present. I’m quite fond of the centre stack and can even say I like iDrive and its functionality now. It’s easy to get used to, and the button placement for entertainment/navigation/HVAC is perfect.
Lust at first drive
There are few BMWs I don’t like to drive. Each offers a good time behind the wheel, and not always because of pure power or brute force. Sometimes it’s about refinement or even capability.
Well, with the 2016 BMW 340i xDrive it’s about everything: dynamism, performance, refinement, fun, power, brute force, smoothness… I could go on and on because it really is that good. This car is my new favourite Bimmer that doesn’t start with an “M.”
Why is it so good? For starters, BMW threw in their all-new 3.0L turbocharged straight-6 mill that produces 320 horsepower and 330 lb-ft of torque. There’s an 8-speed automatic transmission paired to the engine that’s quick to react and buttery smooth. I didn’t even feel the need to use the paddle shifters most of the time as the tranny knows what it’s doing so well; why would I bother interrupting it?
Since I had the xDrive version of the BMW 340i, power was sent to all four wheels, which meant quick responses off the line in addition to solid handling and grip at all times. That’s also thanks to an updated and revamped suspension and chassis that the engineers at BMW cooked up for this model.
The German manufacturer claims the 340i is much more refined than the outgoing 335i, and I’d be inclined to agree even though I did not drive both back to back. Everything definitely feels sportier, more in tune, and just generally well behaved and spot-on in terms of reaction to driver input.
Here’s the thing I loved most about the 2016 BMW 340i xDrive: It has some serious personality. The engine sounds great, the exhaust note is mint, the car handles superbly, it looks gorgeous, yet it totally serves as an everyday family vehicle.
The 340i speaks to the enthusiast who’s grown up, the one who’s got a solid career and a good income and perhaps a small family. This is the enthusiast who still loves to drive and hit the open road, despite sitting in traffic most of the time. Also the car guy/girl who turns to see what’s coming down the street at the first hint of a deep, guttural exhaust note.
BMW has taken everything the 335i was before and cranked it up a few notches, making the new 340i stiffer, sportier, better looking, better handling, and just all around better. Hats off to BMW for creating a vehicle just a step below their iconic M3 (with a starting price around the $54,000 mark) that won’t make you feel like you’re taking a massive step down or settling for something when you’re not quite ready yet to afford the M-powered beast.
Trust me, you’ll be satisfied with the 2016 BMW 340i xDrive. In fact, you’ll be more than satisfied. It’s that good.