Surprise package, it’s a term often used to denote a person/object/experience that was unexpectedly good. In the car world, we have another term for that. These understated cars are called sleepers, average looking but completely bonkers as far as performance ability goes.
The BMW M340i Touring is exactly that, it is a surprise package. For a while now, BMW has been offering M sport packages to people wanting to make their car look a little more sporty by giving it some undeserved M badging. It’s not uncommon because Audi, Ford, Mercedes and VW all offer similar packages. However, BMW also has a series of detuned M cars which in this case is the M340i.
It’s been a while since we’ve seen a performance 3 series wagon from BMW so this was a refreshing surprise. Remember that BMW are also bringing out an M3 wagon later this year, they really are an enthusiast driven brand! So how does this M340i fare then?
This Beemer wagon is certainly an object of beauty. The proportions are spot on and it has vents in all the right places. It looks sporty but not so lairy that it gives away the secret that hides under the bonnet. Quite frankly, this new generation 3 series look suits the estate rather than the sedan.
The elephant in the room with this particular model was the colour. Those of you with keen eyes will notice that it bears an uncanny resemblance to Audi’s Nardo Grey. Well, that’s because BMW calls the colour Nardo Grey as well! I thought there would have been copyright issues around this but I guess not?! We’re not complaining either way because this Beemer looks great in the colour. The black accents compliment the grey really well and so do those those slightly bronzed exhaust tips.
That attention to detail carries on into the interior where the finishing is just impeccable. I have got to commend BMW on their use of materials in here. Traditionally, it’s acceptable to have scratchy plastics and lower quality materials in a car of this level but remember this isn’t just a regular 3 series wagon.
That’s exactly where a lot of manufacturers go wrong. They charge you quite a bit more for that performance badge and the upgrades but the interior isn’t any nicer despite the car being so much more costly. BMW have got the balance right here because leather is used generously across the dash. Then there’s the plastics, the top of the dashboard is covered in soft stuff and so are the door panels. You would usually expect to find the scratchy stuff at the bottom of the door panels but not in this car because there is some soft stuff even there! Are they mad? They’ll be losing money with this much high quality material in every car. And it doesn’t stop there. BMW have contrasted the black plastic and leather with Aluminium accents which do a good job with breaking up the monotony.
I have talked a lot about the materials here because the rest is standard BMW stuff. It has i-Drive with gesture control, there’s plenty of M coloured stuff around as well and all the important buttons have a glass effect to them. Then there’s the sound, it comes courtesy of a very cool Harman Kardon audio system, an option worth the money.
Powered by BMW’s twin power straight six, this M340i can really kick up a storm. It pumps out 374bhp and many many torques, 500Nm actually from that twin scroll turbo engine. 374 might not sound like much these days but it propels this car to 100 in about 4.5 seconds, bloody quick by all standards. That four wheel drive X-Drive system certainly helps with putting the power down, it also works a treat in the corners. While going through the corners, you can really feel the way they have balanced the suspension to perfection. Yes, it’s firm but you can live with it everyday and the rear wheel drive bias really comes alive in the corners. It’s an excellent drive and that 8 speed dual clutch gearbox makes sure you have enough power at all times.
You don’t have to wring the engine to get the power out but when you do, you can hear that exhaust note approach the crescendo. Speaking of the note, it is absolutely fantastic. Six cylinders probably makes the best noise in my opinion and this unit is no different. BMW have become experts at making straight six exhaust notes sound theatrical, even if a bit of the sound is pumped into the cabin. The turbo helps bring some more power out of that engine, so much so that this M340i wagon can beat the Audi RS4 in a drag race! Yes, it is quick and has plenty of stopping power with those big beefy M caliper brakes. Don’t worry, BMW have you covered on all fronts here!
All said and done, I am a big wagon fan but I’m not a Beemer man. However, this M340i wagon is an anomaly. As you can see, I amd fond of it but not just because of how good the car is, it’s also due to what it stands for.
In this age where companies seem to offer less and less while charging more along with having to utilize smaller engines because of emissions and then some of them have even gone and killed off the manual. BMW isn’t one of those. They still offer manual transmissions on their M cars, they are masters of the 6 cylinder engine and their cars are well equipped starting right from the lowly 1 series. Have they gone mad? Certainly seems like it!
The M340i Touring is a proper purists vehicle and for less than $130k NZD, it punches far above its weight. A great all round wagon, it’s the surprise package of the M lineup.
The BMW M340i gets a 5/5 from me.
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Words and pictures by Matthew Dsouza