A little over a month ago BMW New Zealand gave us the keys to their M340i Touring. It’s a bit of a brute of a vehicle with oodles of power and, thanks to its extended tail end, plenty of room too. A thrilling drive that also (since it’s not a full blown, guns ablazin’ M3) has a refined side, fast but not overtly furious. So the offer of checking out the Sedan version was seized with both hands.
The 3-series sedan rolled off the production line in 1975 and has been a BMW icon ever since. Sure, after nearly half a century and numerous generations it’s not the compact size it started off life as, but it’s picked up a lot of experience and A LOT of tech wizardry along the way.
M3 aside, the M340i xDrive sits at the top of the 3-series sedan range and with it comes nigh-on everything that BMW has to offer. A powerful, efficient heart, Vernasca leather (which in my model was white), laser headlights, Harman Kardon surround sound system, BMW’s Intelligent Personal Assistant and a variety of ‘M’ kit from body trim and leather steering wheel to brakes and an M-Sport Differential.
To many, the 3-Series is in a league of its own but having had the benefit of reviewing the Touring version, here is how they compare.
Both Sedan and Touring are the same length and from the front it’s virtually impossible to tell them apart – not a bad thing at all, but obviously things are rather different when looking at the rear. The Sedan doesn’t get the cool split glass tailgate and at 480L loses 20L of luggage space but they both come with ‘kicker’ access LED lights and Hofmeister kinks (which are as iconic as the kidney grilles).
To all intents and purposes, the interiors are the same too. Both feature digital displays, gesture controls, ‘Hey BMW’ voice controls, Head up display and a luxury/safety list of accessories and aids that seem to go on ad infinitum. Again, sitting in the driver’s seat, it’s hard to tell them apart. However, the view from the rear is a different matter.
Those in the back of the Sedan do get better acquainted than those in the Touring. Legroom is less and there’s less light coming in from the rear door windows but on the upside, I barely ever sit there so my care factor is very limited.
What I do care about though is how it drives and that’s where this ‘phwoar’ nails it. In Comfort, there’s a nice maturity about the ride. Somewhere in the distance there’s the warm sound of the 6-cylinder purring away, there’s a give in the suspension and the reversing, land keep and adaptive cruise aids means that the driver is almost a passenger too.
However, switch things up to Sports+, the dials go red and the racing mist rolls in. The M340i turns into ‘brother of M’, the suspension stiffens, throttle responds quicker and its 3L 285 kW/500Nm are freed.
0-100km/h occurs in just 4.4 sec (a fraction quicker than the Touring) and the exhaust note resonates throughout the cabin. The gears race up and down the 8-speed sports transmission and offer exciting blips under braking, just to let you know you’re in something that wears the three-stripe M badge.
It may be physiological but to me the Sedan corners better than the Touring (although they both have xDrive) and feels that little more agile, however, both are impressive ‘ultimate driving machines’ not sure where I heard that.
To boot or not to boot, that is the question – and the answer lies within. Do you need more space in the rear and something that’s NOT an SUV, or does the traditional (and some would say timeless) shape of the Sedan light your fire – personally I’m more in the Sedan camp but just quietly, I’d be happy with either BMW New Zealand M340i xDrives on my driveway.