Does the BMW 340i bring put the 3 Series back in front?

3-Series, Interesting | December 4th, 2015 by 6
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There’s no denying the fact that the once beloved BMW 3 Series has taken a serious fall from grace in the past few years. Since …

There’s no denying the fact that the once beloved BMW 3 Series has taken a serious fall from grace in the past few years. Since the F30 3 Series’ inception in 2012, it’s been met with criticism from fans and journalists alike for being bigger, heavier and more numb than the outgoing E90. Of course, the same thing was said about the E90 and how it was worse in every possible way than the legendary E46. Nevertheless, the media and fans have not been kind to BMW and its venerable 3 Series over these past three years.

However, BMW aimed to rectify this with its latest LCI treatment. Bringing some vaguely updated looks along with a new engine, some revised steering and suspension geometry and some new interior bits, the new post-LCI F30 3 Series is ready to get itself back on top of the segment.

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2016 BMW 340i Track Handling Package

It won’t be easy for it, though. The competition is stiffer than it ever has been, with car companies coming out of the woodwork with a car of their own to take the 3er down. Cadillac landed a big hit on BMW when it debuted the ATS, Lexus took a big swing with the IS 350 F Sport and Jaguar may have delivered a knock out blow with the XE. With all of these cars attacking BMW’s 3 Series, it seemed like it was done for. But BMW scrambled back to the drawing board, made some half time adjustments and put the 3 Series back out there and it looks like those adjustments may have worked.

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We drove the new BMW 340i a little while back, which uses the new B58 3.0 liter turbocharged Inline-Six engine that makes 320 hp and 330 lb-ft of torque, and we had mentioned that it feels much improved over the pre-LCI 3 Series. We felt that the new 340i could bring the 3 Series back into contention for the top spot.

The post-LCI 3 Series feels very similar to the pre-LCI version, only sharper and more dynamic in every way. The suspension geometry isn’t drastically changed, but it’s enough to give the 340i slightly quicker reactions and feels more accurate. There’s no slack in the steering anymore and it just feels more responsive. It’s also more comfortable, which is strange considering the performance and handling gains. Bumps and undulations were kept more in control and had less of an edge on them than before. The car we drove had the Track Handling Package which added variable steering, something we’re told actually makes the steering a bit more vague. We’d like to sample the car without the Track Handling Pack and just the M Sport package to see how it feels.

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The engine is the benchmark engine in the segment, and possibly the industry. It’s so smooth it feels like it’s running on liquefied silk and the power delivery is instantaneous. It even sounds fantastic, like a mixture of Barry White and Brian Johnson. It’s equally excellent regardless of which transmission is paired to it, either the six-speed manual or the eight-speed auto.

So the new BMW 340i is faster than the outgoing 335i, its engine is smoother, its handling is sharper and its ride is more comfortable. It’s better in every measurable and immeasurable way that the outgoing car that was heavily criticised, and I’m sure the same goes for the post-LCI 328i. So, considering that the pre-LCI F30 3 Series was only lacking behind the competition ever so slightly, does this upgraded LCI refresh put the 3 Series back on top of the segment it once reigned? I think so, but BMW’s going to have to keep it up and not get complacent because its competition is hot on its heels.

6 responses to “Does the BMW 340i bring put the 3 Series back in front?”

  1. lin says:

    “But BMW scrambled back to the drawing board, made some half time adjustments and put the 3 Series back out there and it looks like those adjustments may have worked.”

    This seems like an incredibly short sighted premise to base your article on. The idea that BMW, who has been and currently is a leader in the performance luxury market, is taking a reactionary measure seems riddled with indication that the author is ignorant about processes.

    BMW is notorious for taking an incredibly long amount of time to research, develop, and implement changes and updates in a meaningful way for the consumer. By the time the ATS, IS 350 F Sport, and XE, hit the market there is no doubt in my mind that BMW was already preparing an update to the F30 platform. In the same way that they’re already planning/developing the replacement for the F platform by the time that comes to market its safe to assume that they are already working on the LCI. Engineers, designers, key business partners; these are resources that industry leaders do not leave to sit idle waiting for seasons to change, or for copious amounts of customer feedback to come to light. Yes, customer feedback is important, but anyone working on a project of this scale is no doubt aware of its shortcomings and finding ways to address these challenges well before the actual product becomes consumer facing and ready for purchase.

    Even beyond the premise of it being reactionary did you do any research on the models your comparing the F platform against? You openly acknowledge it was made available in 2012; the Lexus IS350 was made available in 2013, the Cadillac ATS was made available in 2012 but it was developed with a competitive benchmark against the E46 3-series, and the Jaguar XE didn’t even begin production until April of this year (2015!). If the 3 series had so greatly “taken a serious fall from grace in the past few years” as you so bluntly put it why are you not able to easily compare it against competition developed along the same time line? It/s incredibly easy to see how comparing a vehicle solely against newer competition undermines the whole premise of this article. Why would any competitor to the 3-series, especially those coming to market to compete against an already embedded product, do so in a way that is NOT better than the competition? That would be ludicrous.

    Do you, Nico, have any sources or really any verifiable information that can confirm that the LCI changes were a reactionary measure due to the competition, as opposed to an intentional, well planned, renew/refresh opportunity for the 3-series? Leading off that if you do why did you not include these sources in your article?

    This is not your best work; very disappointing.

  2. Autopal says:

    I recently took delivery of my first Mercedes, a white C450 AMG Sport with cranberry red leather interior. I have been a BMW fanatic for many years, and I will miss my 09 335i, but this time, I think the 3 series is, for the first time, behind the C class. I don’t think there’s much difference between the 2 cars in terms of performance, and both cars have way more power and speed than I need for a daily driver, but, it’s the interior of the C450 that swayed my decision, and I absolutely love the car. I really wanted to stick with BMW, but their interior is so so boring and stale, it was hard. I’m really hoping that BMW take a serious look at their interior design for the next generation of cars, as this, I think, is the only area they are lacking

    • Aca says:

      Any interior except Mercedes interior. That is my beauty with 51 years behind me. I do not like so much BMW interior, but if I get others I can live with it. I cannot live with Mercedes interior. Mercedes interior with a lot of curves is not for sports car. Maybe it is for family car, but from 150+ year-old.

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  4. Sean says:

    Why are so many comparing the Jag XE.
    I got a price in Australia for the same spec as the BMW 340i and was $30 000 more and not available in manual either.
    For $30000 more this should be compared week the M3.

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