It’s not often that ‘performance’ and ‘comfort’ can be uttered in the same sentence, but that’s exactly what comes to mind when, thanks to BMW New Zealand, you get behind the wheel of their new M340i xDrive Touring.
First taking to the road in 1987 with the E30, the Touring (or Estate, or Station Wagon) offered all the luxury and refinement that came with the German Marque but all the spaciousness of having a big loading bay at the back, this was of course, prior to the emergence of SUVs. Luxury, refinement and space is one thing, ok three things, but what about performance.
For although back in the E46 days (turn of the century era) there was talk of an M3 Touring (it even got prototyped I believe), it unfortunately never came to fruition. However, in August 2017, by raiding their accessories cupboard, BMW NZ ‘created’ a BMW 340i M Performance Touring locally and it was very well received.
They dropped in a beasty TwinPower Turbo inline 6-cylinder engine – capable of 265kW/500Nm and a 0-100 time of 4.9s, added Adaptive M suspension, 20” Black Alloys, M LED pool lamps (that project from under the door), M Sport package, Coral Red leather upholstery, Panoramic glass sunroof and a Harman Kardon surround sound system and a sports exhaust with carbon fibre tips.
But now, almost exactly three years later, I found myself behind the wheel of a truly legit, BMW bonafide M340i xDrive Touring and it’s well worth the wait.
First and foremost the powertrain. Once again, under the bonnet is a BMW 3L TwinPower Turbo inline 6-cylinder engine with 500Nm of torque to play with, however this time it has an extra 20kW of power (285kW) that when strapped to the 8-speed Sports transmission and in turn BMW’s xDrive all-wheel-drive system, it gets you from zero to 100km/h almost half a second faster (4.5s). Also, for those that want to know, it offers 8L/100km in fuel economy and 183g/km in emissions.
My review model was clothed in Nardo Grey with enough contrast black, from the likes of the kidney grille, lower air ducts and 19-inch alloys, to ensure that this 4.7m long didn’t look bland. Panoramic roof and Laser headlights are as standard and then there’s the all-important M badging on the wings and tailgate to underline the fact that this is a true M.
On the subject of the tailgate, the M340i Touring continues to offer the ‘quirky’ split-screen that allows entry to the 500L of luggage space without having to go to the length of opening the full electric tail gate. (I actually used it a lot).
The interior is ultra BMW modern. Vernasca black leather furniture and these were offset by the optional BMW M seatbelts. The digital ‘live cockpit’ instrument cluster is 12.3” wide and very personalisable and the 10.3” infotainment screen comes with touch, dial, voice and gesture control. Also, hey BMW is the most up to date system with extra behavoural learning and even says ‘cheers’ rather than thanks every now and then to mix things up.
My week-long tour with the M340i really only took in the sights and sounds of North Auckland and to be honest, as I spent most of my time in ‘Sports Plus’ the sights went past very quickly. There are some interesting roads out near Kaukapakpa, including a few yet to be sealed but even in sport, the Touring laps them up. The cabin is ultra-quiet and the ride super smooth. When the reves get up over 4-5,000 the exhaust begins to sing, however, inside the acoustically tuned glass, you can barely hear it. Personally I would have preferred more aural drama but maybe that’s just me.
The power is delivered well and the ride is oh so confident, possibly too much so, as you’re into treble digit speeds without a hint of a struggle and it takes on tight corners and New Zealand’s ever-changing road surfaces with glee.
A true ‘M’ badged Touring has been a long time coming but as I said earlier, the M340i xDrive is well worth the wait. It’s not an SUV but it’s spacious, it’s not ferocious but it’s very powerful, it’s not soft but it’s really comfortable, simply put, it could very well be BMW’s ultimate touring machine. Get in touch with BMW New Zealand for more details.