REVIEW: 2023 BMW M340i
- - A significantly bigger and more powerful 3.0-litre engine
- - Proper M-spec hardware in suspension, brakes, wheels
- - Fastest BMW to be assembled at its India plant
Most German car brands get dubbed sporty because of the kind of cars they make. Fast roads and an urge to master and defy physics on four wheels have seen quite some gems emerge from this one country alone. Interestingly, all these different car brands have a distinct flavour, unlike their food. Take BMW, for example.
Known to make drivers’ cars since the beginning, the 3 series is a fitting poster boy of the carmaker from Munich. It has a 40-year-old legacy and in all that time, the brand has always remained young by catering to an audience that loves performance. In the last few years, there have been iterations such as the Gran Turismo, which took it to the other extreme of practicality but what seems a more honest and natural association is its occasional meet-up at BMW’s wilder side of the family tree – at the house of M.
The M340i, in its second life in India, has benefitted from the recent facelift of the 3 series. More so with the M treatment as it looks significantly different. The proportions are taut despite being almost similar in dimensions. It looks low slung and hunkered down in its stance which sets the mood for it being that purpose-built performance car.
The familiar BMW kidney grille, headlights and front apron have been revised. One can notice four contour lines flowing towards the BMW kidney grill on the bonnet. It gets large, hexagonal air vents like in race cars.
The central air intake pushes out from the front end even further while its mesh gets a honeycomb structure. Vertical air curtains, at the outer edges of the front end, makes it look wider. The M340i gets slimmer headlights; and "inverted L" arrangement for the daytime driving light. Indicators are also incorporated in these.
At the rear, it looks like the changes have been restricted to the bumper. However, the tailpipes have grown to 100 mm, get new trim finishers and have a more defined slant. A central bottom diffuser completes the sportscar look. There are some unique design touches like the unique cap like door mirrors, air intake struts, BMW kidney grille surrounds, trapezoidal tailpipe trims and the model lettering all finished in Cerium Grey metallic.
In profile, the long hood, short bonnet silhouette makes it instantly likeable. A high shoulder line and well-defined contours give it a muscular look – more like a high performance athlete’s rather than a body-builder’s. The large, 19-in low profile alloy wheel adds further charm. You may not notice it immediately but the M340i has fatter rubber at the rear.
If you like the exterior of the M340i, you will love its interiors. For starters it is reasonably spacious, especially at the rear, quite unlike older 3 series. The India-spec car uses Alcantara leather rather judiciously – from door trims to seats. The seats are large, a bit firmly cushioned but figure hugging to counter lateral body movement in case the driver lets the car loose. You sit a bit low which is good for for the driver as it lowers the centre of gravity but co-passengers may find it a bit uncomfortable to sit as well as to get in and out of the car.
The M340i is well appointed. There’s clever use of soft touch and glossy surfaces interspersed with chrome. It is still not as fancy like other European luxury car makes but it does exude luxury. The design is minimalist so there are fewer buttons. While that looks neat BMW might have gone a bit overboard with this approach as even the air conditioner adjustments have moved to the touchscreen. Not practical on our uneven roads.
Nevertheless, the interior is a luxurious space that is both functional and stylish. The M340i also comes with a leather-wrapped steering wheel, which is thick and comfortable to grip. There are a host of features, including a 14-speaker Harman Kardon sound system, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and a wireless charging pad.
The M340i is the flagship 3 series in India, sitting atop the 320Ld and 330Li Gran Limo versions launched last month. While the regular 3 Series gets a 2.0-litre unit, this one gets a 3-litre unit that makes 369 bhp and 500 Nm of torque. An in-line six –cylinder unit it makes 114 bhp and 100 Nm more than a 330Li. Power is transmitted to all four wheels via a eight-speed automatic transmission. This X-Drive system has a rear bias which enhances the drive feel and also explains the need for a slightly fatter rear tyre.
This car can boast of being the fastest BMW that’s ‘made in India’. The M340i can do 100 kph in 4.4s from standstill and onwards to a top speed of 250 kph. All this aided by judicious amounts of M-sport treatment - differential, brakes, suspension bits and high-performance alloys.
The car comes to life with a roar and settles into a distinct gurgle while idling. Acceleration is obviously brutal and you need to be careful if in traffic. There are multiple drive modes to choose from - Eco Pro, Comfort, Sport and Sport Plus. This car is best experienced at the limit where all its abilities of being a true German sports sedan come to the fore. At all other times, the M340i would sulk its way in slow-moving traffic. The heavy steering and stiff suspension will make sure the driver and its occupants start sulking too. Our roads and general traffic can make sure you don’t want this car as a daily driver, a pity considering it is such a brilliant machine.
The M340i doesn’t disappoint as a performance machine. It is blindingly quick and more than capable of hugging lanes around corners. It doesn’t shy away from quick lane changes but expects the driver to master it before trying some physics-defying driving because it can be unforgiving. Currently, its closest rivals in India would be a Mercedes-AMG A35 4MATIC (Rs 69 lakh), which is a segment below or a Audi S5 Sportback (Rs 79 lakh) which is a segment above. At Rs 69.2 lakh (ex-showroom), the M340i is cleverly priced and sits bang in the middle, ready to entice many true BMW performance fans coming its way.