2016 BMW 340i xDrive Review

Recapturing that 3 Series Magic

The world of luxury cars can be confusing.

Just when we finally figure out a car’s name, it changes. Take the BMW 3 Series sedan, for example. BMW abandoned the trim naming convention that relied on using an engine’s displacement size years ago. A BMW 335i does not, in fact, have a 3.5-liter engine, but rather a 3.0-liter turbocharged six-cylinder engine. Fine, we’ve all come to accept that by now.

But wait, for 2016, 3 Series sedans powered by the turbo inline-six now adorns a 340i badge on the trunk. What gives, BMW?

New Engine, Familiar Concept

The reason for the name change has to do with a new engine. Replacing the 3.0-liter turbocharged six-cylinder engine is a new 3.0-liter turbocharged six-cylinder engine. For those keeping score, this is now the third different 3.0-liter turbo BMW has offered in recent years.

In the 340i, the new engine, code named B58 for you BMW geeks, makes 320 hp and 332 lb-ft of torque. That’s an extra 20 ponies and 32 pound-feet of twist compared to the 335i’s N55 turbocharged engine. Like the 335i, the 340i can be had with rear-wheel drive or BMW’s xDrive all-wheel drive system. Regardless of which drivetrain is selected, a choice of six-speed manual or eight-speed automatic transmissions is available.

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Quick Automatic Leads to a Quick Car

The fastest configuration for the 340i is with xDrive and the eight-speed automatic. Equipped as such, BMW claims the 340i can rocket from zero to 60 mph in just 4.6 seconds. As fast as that number is, it doesn’t really do the car justice as to how quickly the 340i can build speed.

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A lot of it has to with the eight-speed automatic. It’s one of the most enjoyable eight-speed automatics I’ve ever driven. It actually makes we want to play with the paddle shifters and change my own gears – something I find redundant in the vast majority of conventional automatics. And while ripping through the gears, the engine makes a pleasing straight-six sound that can be heard out of the tailpipes and, unfortunately, artificially piped through the car’s speakers as well.

And when not trying to set new lap records around the local motorsport establishment, expect somewhere in the neighborhood of 22 mpg in the city and 33 mpg on the highway. During my time with the car, I averaged 23.1 mpg.


That Old Loving Feeling

Even if the new 3 Series is a bit quicker and wears a new name, it’s still a heavy, disconnect shell of a car compared to former 3 Series sedans, right? The 340i xDrive automatic does weigh a portly 3,820 pounds, after all. Well, not so fast. I’ll spare you all the specific details BMW undertook in refreshing the 3 Series for 2016, but the suspension setup, steering programming and chassis geometry were all altered and combined, they deliver a more engaging driving experience.

Even equipped with thinner winter tires, steering response is great and handling offers a certain agility that’s above and beyond what I remember in the 335i. There’s a certain confidence in the 340i that has me throwing its weight around in high-speed corners without hesitation. Enhancing the driving experience is the track handling package that includes variable sport steering, an adaptive M suspension and M sport brakes. Normally the tires would also be upgraded to wider, stickier rubber, but as mentioned, winter is coming.


A Chameleon with One Flaw

The adaptive suspension offers variable settings that can be cycled through the various drive modes. In Comfort mode, the 340i is a relaxed luxury car offering above average ride serenity for all on board.

Flip it over to Sport or Sport+, and the 340i hunkers down, ready for action. In Sport+, the 3 Series also enters dynamic traction control that allows a little more slip from the car’s wheels before the electronic-overlords step-in to reaffirm proper directional stability.

My only real complaint is that I wish the head-up display would show what gear is engaged, especially in Sport+ mode. With eight gears, it can be hard to keep track of which one the car is in at times.


Look, It’s Different

Although the 2016 340i looks similar to the 2015 335i, much like a celebrity impersonator, a closer look reveals there are some differences. Standard on all 340i models are full LED headlights that are now housed further apart than in the previous 3 Series. The lower front fascia has also been reworked and includes larger side intakes.

The rear features full LED lights as well and the L-shaped tail light design is a bit more curved than those found on the old car. Like the front, trim pieces have been stretched to the corners to give the 2016 3 Series a wider, more aggressive looking stance.


Familiar, Yet Improved Interior

The interior has received much of the same update, featuring a design that doesn’t differ that much from the outgoing 335i. Subtle changes to some of the trim finishes, ambient lighting and the center console are the most notable alterations, but nothing is dramatically different. Passenger dimensions stay the same and the trunk is still on the small side.

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As equipped, the 340i xDrive tested was missing some luxuries like a power-adjustable steering wheel and panoramic sunroof. But it does have other usable features like a heated steering wheel, heated rear seats and built-in rear window shades.

Although the 340i xDrive starts at $48,795 after destination charges, it’s not hard to drive up that price as BMW offers a plethora of options. Once all the boxes were ticked off, the 340i displayed on here rang in at a steep $59,945 as tested.


The Verdict: 2016 BMW 340i xDrive Review

The new 340i is connected in a way that’s been missing in recent 3 Series. Hard to quantify in just a few words, the much storied 3 Series engagement is fully present in the new car. The 2016 340i has a level of urgency and intensity that just seems right in a compact luxury sports sedan.

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