2021 BMW M340i review: A just-right sport sedan

This car looks great in Sunset Orange.

Sean Szymkowski / Roadshow

The BMW 330i? Maybe too soft a touch. The BMW M3? Maybe a little too aggressive (not to mention the ugly). But the M340i? It is an M3 dressed in a business casual style, ready to get busy when required or accompanies you in the daily routine with maximum comfort. Consider it the best of both worlds.

Like it

  • Smooth and buttery thruster
  • Surprisingly comfortable
  • Lots of standard technology

I do not like

  • The interiors are so-so for the price
  • Adding options quickly increases the price

Let’s start with the biggest contributing factor to the M340i package: the 3.0-liter in-line six-cylinder turbo engine. With 383 horsepower and 369 pound-feet of torque, this Bimmer never lacks oomph. Power goes to the rear wheels exclusively on my tester, although BMW’s xDrive all-wheel drive is optional. The low-end pair allows for blissfully easy passage on the freeway and fun rips along back roads, with a delightful soundtrack to back it all up.

Coupled with a quick-change eight-speed automatic transmission, the M340i can really dance. I really like using the steering wheel-mounted shift levers to downshift gears, especially to grab an ear of clicks and crackles from the M340i’s exhaust.

I’ve spent a long time The long-term BMW 330i from Roadshow is now gone with its fixed sports suspension, so I was expecting tough times with the M340i on my local winter-beaten roads. But it never happened. This M340i’s adaptive M suspension turns the worst parts of driving into a tolerable experience, which speaks volumes about the system’s magic. Sure, this M340i has Pirelli winter tires and a car shod with low-profile summer tires will likely improve tough areas, but I’m genuinely impressed with how the M340i holds things together when bouncing off bad road sections.

Firmer springs, a torque vector rear differential, revised anti-roll bars, and the aforementioned adaptive suspension components make the M340i a real joy on backroads. Snapping the car into a curve, the nose dives in. The standard M Sport brakes also offer great bite. These caps are a little touchy and can be hard to get used to, but they represent a huge improvement over the 330i’s standard brakes. In that car, I never got enough stopping power, but the M340i’s upgrade is great.

If there’s one thing that remains a shame, it’s the 3 Series variable sport steering. On paper, it’s nice to have light, easy-to-maneuver steering when parking and then heavier, more direct action when out for have fun. But what the M340i really lacks is feedback and so no matter how good the variable ratio may be, it still results in a completely lackluster experience.

By switching between the M340i’s four driving modes (five if you double tap Sport to unlock Sport Plus), the car really changes its behavior. Comfort offers excellent comfort in the city, while Eco Pro is a champion on the highway, making the most of every drop of fuel. By the way, go slow on the throttle and the M340i should return 23 miles per gallon of city, 32mpg highway, and 26mpg combined, which is better than most other luxury compact sedans.

Adaptive Drive Mode gives the M340i the OK to automatically make adjustments to different powertrain and chassis parameters as it sees fit, but that’s not my preference. Personally, I like to leave this sedan in Sport. The exhaust opens, the digital gauges turn red, the transmission holds gears longer, and the throttle responds much more avidly to your “you have to go fast” impulses. As a testament to the refinement of the M340i, even in Sport, the sedan performs well in stop-and-go traffic. Sport Plus bites off some of the driver’s aids and relaxes the stability control system, making the M340i much happier.

The interior looks premium, but some of the materials are just meh.

Sean Szymkowski / Roadshow

Inside, the M340i shares a lot with the entry-level 330i, although my tester’s mix of gray leather and Oyster Vernasca feels more premium than other color schemes. However, the cabin of the 3 Series in general comes across as acceptable for the price, but not above and beyond. Ahead of the driver is a 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster with lots of information, much of which is adjustable from the steering wheel-mounted controls. To the right resides a crisp 10.3-inch display, which – hallelujah – supports Apple CarPlay is Android Auto without any associated fees.

The M340i is equipped with a number of driver assistance systems that keep you pampered while driving. The roster includes adaptive cruise control, forward collision warning and automatic emergency braking. An optional driver assistance package adds even more with blind spot detection, lane departure warning and parking sensors. And when it comes to the all-important mobile device, there’s no shortage of options to find a place to charge them. Choose the wireless charging pad, USB-A or USB-C ports. Rear seat passengers also get USB-C ports and a 12-volt outlet.

At $ 66,000 and the rest, this M340i isn’t a cheap car. But considering it starts at $ 55,695 after a $ 995 destination charge, it’s easy to find value in the powertrain compared to the standard 330i. For example, our long-term 330i came in at $ 57,000 after options, but if I were to put a monetary figure on the fun, I certainly enjoyed a lot more in this M340i which is well worth the extra cost. Between its changing character, adorable powertrain and good looks, the M340i is a perfect 3 Series.

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