When BMW unveiled the all-new M3 and M4 last year, it was as if the entire internet went up in flames – not for its performance, because it is most likely ridiculously fast, but for its looks. You know what we’re talking about, the humongous “buckteeth” grille plastered onto the front fascia.
While most of us here at AutoBuzz.my have already warmed up to the new looks, many online are still evidently hung up about the big change (yes, pun intended) – so much so that they’re put off from buying the new M car entirely. So what if we told you that you can get an M-level performance, on a car that doesn’t look so… funky? Allow me to introduce you to the BMW M340i xDrive.
To most onlookers, the M340i looks just like any other BMW 3 Series – but you see, that’s actually part of its charm. The G20-generation 3 Series has always been regarded as one of the best-looking BMW in recent years, and when you strut into the office on the weekdays, nobody bats an eye because the 3-er is by all means, a very sensible choice.
The only details that somewhat hint at its performance are the larger hexagonal tailpipe exits, slightly lowered ride height, and the new mesh-design grille that is just magnificent to look at.
And if your daily commute consists mostly of long highway journeys, this baby-M might even be a better choice than the 330i, thanks to its silky-smooth B58 3.0-litre turbocharged inline-six mill and eight-speed automatic gearbox combo underneath the bonnet. Heck, even the electronically-controlled adaptive M Suspension in comfort mode feels more supple over undulations than the M Sport items of the 330i!
Just as the 387 hp and 500 Nm output figure suggests, gobbling up miles in the M340i is ridiculously easy, made even better by the sultry voice it makes. A quick poke at the accelerator pedal sends the car surging forward, and the power creeps up so linearly and rapidly, you wouldn’t have thought it’s coming from a turbocharged engine – truly, the B58 might be the pinnacle of six-cylinders.
So that’s the weekdays sorted, and the best part is it doesn’t disappoint on the weekends too. In fact, what impressed us most about this car is its ability to turn from a civilised cruiser into a complete lunatic with just a touch of a button. Flick it into Sports Plus mode, and the cracks and bangs from the exhaust system immediately tells you that you’ve woken up a beast that’s just raring to go.
And as we’ve alluded to before, boy oh boy does the M340i go. Zero to 100 km/h is completed in a brisk 4.4 seconds, which is just 0.2 seconds slower (or literally, two blinks of an eye) than the all-new BMW M3. Remember what we said about M-level performance?
Better yet, its superb engine is just one part of the equation. The BMW M340i’s real pièce de résistance lies within the brilliant M xDrive all-wheel drive system, a drug best experienced on the twisty B roads.
Just like all the other G20-generation BMW 3 Series, the nose of the M340i dives right into the corner at a flick of the steering wheel; the added weight from the AWD system takes nothing away from the sharpness of the car. At this point, you’ll already be grinning from cheek to cheek. And then, you witness its true party piece.
As you gradually increase your speed mid-corner, the extra traction on the front axle digs into the tarmac to hold your line at speeds you’d never thought possible, as if the M340i is on rails, or powered by some form of black magic.
And when you want to let your hair loose and have some fun, the M340i happily obliges too, never hesitant to display its mischievous side. A little extra enthusiasm on the throttle pedal, and the rear-biased M xDrive AWD system pushes the M340i’s rump out immediately, giving you an on-demand dose of adrenaline injected right into your bloodstream.
The electrical wizardries constantly keep you in check too, never letting the rear overtake the front, lending you confidence to hang in the balance of the tyre’s limit of adhesion over and over again. I’m far from a professional driver, but I think I might have done some of my best driving in the M340i.
Undoubtedly, the most ardent BMW fans would rush to crucify it, saying something to the tune of “a real BMW should always be rear-wheel drive!” If you happen to belong in that camp, trust me – give this a go, and you’ll immediately change your mind. There’s a reason why the new BMW M3 and M4 are now offered in an all-wheel drive configuration, too.
To us, the BMW M340i xDrive is the epitome of the best of both worlds – easy on the weekdays, and just the right amount of crazy on the weekends. And what’s more, it’s about one-thirds off the price of an M3 or M4 here in Malaysia, but you’re still getting almost all the performance and fun factor.
We don’t say this lightly, but the BMW M340i xDrive might really be the only car you need.
BMW M340i xDrive specifications:
|Engine||2,998 cc; Twin-scroll turbocharged inline-six|
|Transmission||8-speed Steptronic automatic|
|Max horsepower||387 hp @ 5,000 – 6,500 rpm|
|Max torque||500 Nm @ 1,600 – 4,500 rpm|
|0-100 km/h; Top speed||4.4 seconds; 250 km/h (electronically limited)|
|Price (OTR, w/o insurance, inclusive of SST exemptions)||RM402,354.15|