Tuesday, November 28, 2023
Reviews 2023 BMW M340i xDrive Review: The Smart Choice

2023 BMW M340i xDrive Review: The Smart Choice

Not too hot, not too cold.

  • The 2023 BMW M340i starts at $57,395 in the United States and at $70,995 in Canada, freight and delivery charges included.

  • As quick as an M3, great driving dynamics, well-finished cabin.

  • Stiff ride, above-average price, fussy on-screen climate controls.

For those who seek performance and handling without mortgaging the condo or being seen in something a little too extreme for their tastes, there’s the 2023 BMW M340i xDrive sedan, drawling the line between the more sensible 330i and 330e, and the rip-snorting BMW M3.

The BMW 3 Series line obviously doesn’t need a presentation. It’s been around for almost 50 years, offered mostly as a sedan over the years, but also as a coupe, a convertible, a three-door hatchback, a five-door liftback, and a station wagon. What used to be the company’s bread-and-butter line, the best-selling nameplate, has been surpassed by the more popular BMW X3 and BMW X5 crossovers since the 2017 calendar year.

Despite the shift in consumer preferences along with automakers’ uncontrollable desire to produce more profitable vehicles, the four-door sedan as we know it still has a purpose. The 2023 BMW M340i xDrive reminds us that you can obtain scintillating performance, decent comfort and a luxurious, tech-laden cabin in something other than a utility vehicle.

The 2023 model year brings some changes to the 3 Series. The sedan receives revised front and rear fasciae, while its schnauze gladfully didn’t adopt the M3’s arguably awkward buck-tooth kidney grille. New paint colours, new alloy wheels and slimmer full LED headlights are also part of the mid-cycle refresh, while an M Sport package is available on the 330i and 330e sedans, adding some extra cosmetic appeal in addition to a sport suspension and some flashier interior appointments.

2023 BMW M340i xDrive

Speaking of the interior, there’s the new BMW Curved Display that’s making its way into all of the brand’s products, a wide panel housing both the 12.3-inch digital driver instrument panel and the 14.9-inch infotainment system touchscreen. It looks slick, but doesn’t innovate in any way as many other automakers have already adopted this trendy design feature—even Hyundai and Kia. The electronic shift lever is gone, replaced by a transmission rocker switch that does the same job while uncluttering the centre console. As usual, a wide selection of interior colours and accenting are available, a nice touch if we’re looking for a little personalisation—for a few thousand extra dollars on the invoice.

The 3 Series adopts the brand’s latest iDrive 8 operating system, which is still fairly easy to manipulate with the console-mounted multifunction knob, despite the interface’s multiple layers of menus. The redesigned centre stack no longer includes climate controls, aside from front and rear defrost buttons, which have been relegated to the infotainment system screen. That’s a trend we don’t necessarily like, as we’re dependant on the system’s boot-up speed to activate the heated seats and crank up the temperature in winter. It’s less frustrating than we make it sound, but we prefer good old hard buttons and rotary dials—which are also easier to use with gloves on.

2023 BMW M340i xDrive

Under the hood, the 330i features a turbocharged 2.0L inline-four with 255 horsepower and 295 pound-feet of torque, connected to an eight-speed automatic transmission. Rear-wheel drive is standard in the U.S., while xDrive AWD is optional in the U.S., standard in Canada. The 330e plug-in hybrid gets a low-pressure variant of the turbo 2.0L engine, but it’s supported by an electric motor for a combined output of 288 horsepower and 310 pound-feet. The 330i xDrive is fairly efficient with a combined 27 mpg or 8.6 L/100 km rating, while the 330e xDrive nets 25 mpg or 9.2 L/100 km combined, but offers en EV-only driving range of up to 20 miles or 34 kilometres. The rear-wheel drive 330e fares slightly better. The 3 Series PHEV is worth it if our commutes are short and can plug the car in regularly, or if local EV purchase or lease subsidies are high enough to bring the price at par with that of the 330i. Straight-line performance is similar, but the 330e is about 500 pounds heavier, so reduced driving dynamics are to be expected.

Let’s get back to the subject at hand. The 2023 BMW M340i cranks the performance up a couple of notches with its turbocharged 3.0L inline-six, which now benefits from 48V mild hybrid technology. Output is unchanged at 382 horsepower as well as 369 pound-feet of torque from 1,800 to 5,000 rpm, but the hybrid portion can assist the gasoline engine during full-throttle acceleration or when passing. BMW claims a 0-to-60 mph (0-to-96 km/h) time of 4.4 seconds in the RWD variant, and 4.1 seconds with xDrive (standard in Canada). That’s actually really quick. If anything, the hybrid system refines the automatic stop/start system’s operation, and that by itself could be its greatest contribution.

While the fuel economy numbers are unchanged in the United States, with a combined EPA rating of 26 mpg, NRCan’s combined rating drops from 9.2 to 9.0 L/100 km with the new model year. A small difference, but that’s better than nothing. We observed an average of 25 mpg or 9.5 L/100 km during our winter test. Premium fuel is obviously required across all 3 Series trim levels, but it’s nice to know that choosing the silky six-cylinder engine won’t end up increasing the fuel bill.

2023 BMW M340i xDrive

The 3.0L six is utterly smooth, but can get loud and nasty with the Sport or Sport Plus modes engaged. Full-throttle upshifts are accompanied by exhaust belching, without making the M340i as rude as the bad-boy M3 and its twin-turbo 3.0L six, which develops 473 horsepower and 406 pound-feet of torque, while the M3 Competition ups the ante with 503 horsepower and 479 pound-feet.

We know what some of you may be thinking. What would our neighbours think if we drove home in a 2023 BMW M340i instead of an M3? That we’re not working hard enough to afford the latter? That we’re not brave enough to handle that extra underhood cavalry? Here’s our answer: the 330i and 330e are the sensible choices, the M3 is the emotional choice, but the M340i is the smart choice. It strikes a perfect balance between performance and efficiency, it looks good without being too extroverted, and doesn’t break the bank doing so. Relatively speaking. We do have to put up with a stiff ride, even in Comfort mode, but that’s what we get for choosing a performance-focused car.

Competition includes the Audi S4 (turbo 3.0L V6, 349 hp/369 lb-ft), the upcoming Mercedes-AMG C 43 (turbo 2.0L I4, 402 hp/369 lb-ft), the Cadillac CT5-V (twin-turbo 3.0L V6, 360 hp/405 lb-ft), the Alfa Romeo Giulia Veloce AWD (turbo 2.0L I4, 280 hp/306 lb-ft), the Genesis G70 3.3T (twin-turbo 3.3L V6, 365 hp/376 lb-ft), the Acura TLX Type S (twin-turbo 3.0L V6, 355 hp/354 lb-ft), the Lexus IS 350 F SPORT (3.5L V6, 311 hp/280 lb-ft), the Infiniti Q50 Red Sport (twin-turbo 3.0L V6, 400 hp/350 lb-ft), the Maserati Ghibli Modena (twin-turbo 3.0L V6, 424 hp/428 lb-ft) and, arguably, the Volvo S60 Recharge (Turbo/Supercharged 2.0L I4 PHEV, 455 hp/523 lb-ft).

Pricing for the 2023 BMW M340i starts at $57,395 in the United States, freight and delivery charges included. Add another $2,000 for xDrive. In Canada, pricing starts at $70,995 with freight and delivery charges. Selecting a matte paint job and a full Merino Leather interior, in addition to all the option packages, and the price will easily rise by $20K.

Yes, the M340i’s entry price is higher than those of all the aforementioned rivals except the Ghibli, and maybe the new AMG C 43. It’s best to compare local finance and lease rates to figure out the difference in monthly payments, which may vary quite a bit, according to each of these sedans’ interest rates and residual values.

However, for that sum, we get a fairly well equipped sedan that’s among the quickest of the bunch, and arguably the one with the most engaging driving experience. That’s what BMW does best, after all.

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