There was a time when BMW absolutely owned the compact sports sedan segment. Competitors like Audi, Mercedes Benz, Infiniti, Lexus and Genesis weren’t as invested in fighting BMW as they have been over the past decade or so.
Through the last decade, the industry has shifted its focus towards the SUV and crossover craze. There is still a pride factor that a lot of manufacturers are fighting for, and whether large or small, there is still a demand for a compact sedan in today’s market.
It’s no surprise that utility vehicles have been gaining popularity. They offer versatility, space, cargo and comfort. Some of them can even be down right fun to drive. They can get costly though if you look at the ownership cost in a big picture scale. This becomes clear once you factor in the extra money spent yearly on gas consumption, cost of tire replacing and so on. But what about the kid in us? Is anyone listening to that guy? The guy that hauls his family to the cottage on the weekends but looks forward to Monday knowing he’ll be whipping to work without the wife, kids, the dog and a trunk full of burgers. The guy that so happily looks forward to throwing the car around some freeway entrance and exits on his way to work.
BMW rolled out the all new 3 series a few months ago (M330i). Vastly improved in all areas. The exterior styling remains a ho-hum topic to most enthusiasts. Ranging from its Lexus-like rear lights to its new front grill set up, everyone has an opinion on the new look. But like it or not, there are a few solid facts. The new car is visibly larger inside and out. Almost large enough to drop the ‘compact’ from its description.
One thing no one can argue with is the much improved iDrive 7 loaded with “wow your friends” tech and an all new interior design. The M330i is a fantastic daily driver. It’s more luxurious than its predecessor, it’s bigger, faster and more quiet. It is not a maniacal, angry and powerful fun to drive sports sedan. The M340i however, is one.
The M340i looks to make a statement. While BMW is banking on the M330i to carry the sales load for the brand, still about 20% of the 3 series buyer will opt for the 382 horsepower, 369 of-ft of torque M340i. And they will not be disappointed.
Subtle differences are found on the outside compared to the M330i. Larger sport wheels sporting stickier rubber. A 340 exclusive diamond shaped kidney grill are the most noticeable differences to the naked eye. Aside from the M340i badge on the trunk lid, of course.
On the inside you will find the similar interior design language found in all of BMW’s 2019/2m340i0 all new models. Lots of double stitched plush leather surfaces and soft touch materials. Very little piano black and lots of open pour wood surfaces.
The tech is a plenty in the new iDrive system. From hand gesture stereo controls to “hey BMW” activated voice controls. There’s no shortage of little ooh and ahh factors to wow your friends on drives.
Speaking of friends on drives, rest assured they will sit a lot more comfortably in the rear seats compared to that of the outgoing model. Rear seat space is about 20% larger, and much more comfortable for the rear passengers.
But let’s be honest here. This is a very sports oriented vehicle so the only seat you want to be sitting in is the drivers seat.
The push button start has been relocated from the behind the steering wheel to down on the gear shift lever column making it much more accessible. One thing the Germans are better than anyone else is taking something that works well, and making it even better.
They’ve done this with the engine as well. The previous 340 was never accused of being underpowered by any means. But BMW has made the new version of its 3.0 litre inline 6 turbo even more powerful and more economical. And much more responsive, yes even in its default ‘comfort’ mode. In sport mode it actually rivals the M variant of its predecessor model. Believe us when we tell you, all the M badging on this car is not fake on its delivery of true M car like performance. Nor is BMW marketing it with M badges everywhere in attempt to blind fold you and make you look foolish to true M heads about the genetics of this vehicle. The chassis has M tuning, the drivetrain also has been M tuned.
The all new 3 series is a very sharp and well engineered machine. Every second behind the wheel is an exhilarating experience. So much so that we didn’t want to give it back when the test period was over.
Fuel economy has also been improved. You can expect north of 550 kilometres on a full tank on combined city and highway driving, even with our aggressive driving which happened to be in sport mode more than not.
The 2020 BMW 340i starts at under $62,000 CAD.
Our test car was painted in BMW’s sleek Tanzanite Blue II metallic, a $1,450 option. The Interior was matched perfectly with a Cognac Vernasca leather.
The car was also equipped with the Premium Excellence Package ($8,300) which included some cool options like automatic Trunk, ambient lighting, traffic jam assistant, driving assistant. BMW Laserlight headlights, parking assistant plus with surround view, Head-Up Display, Harman/Kardon sound system, wireless charging with extended bluetooth and USB BMW, gesture control and WiFi Hotspot to name a few. The vehicle also had the BMW adaptive M suspension ($600).
Bringing the grand total to $72,200 CAD which is priced aggressively amongst its competitors from Audi and Mercedes Benz.
We loved every minute behind the wheel of this sophisticated machine. But we ask: Is this the best sports compact sedan on the market? We encourage you to visit your local BMW dealer and decide yourself.