FIRST DRIVE: 2016 BMW 340i

Test Drives | October 6th, 2015 by 22
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First drive and review of the BMW 340i. Overall, the 340i is fast, fun and handles fantastically. The key metrics is fun, as 0-60 times.

When you think of great driving roads, countries like Italy, Switzerland and Romania come to mind, usually. Italy’s Stelvio Pass and Romania’s Transfagarasan pass are arguably the best two driving roads in the world. However, Mexico, a country not known for its road quality, might just have a better one and it’s the road that we just tested the new BMW 340i on. And it was incredible.

BMW flew us all the way to Chihuahua, Mexico (not like the dog) to test the new 340i and X1 (that’s an upcoming article). When we first heard that we were going to Mexico, we were a bit perplexed, as it’s not the most driver-friendly country in the world. Then, once we landed, we had to take a bus 5 hours through the desert to get to our awaiting steeds. Admittedly, by the time we got there, we were skeptical of BMW’s promise of great driving roads. Boy were we wrong.

 

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After seeing the road we were going to be driving on, we were chomping at the bit to get our paws on the steering wheel of a 340i. After hopping into a Melbourne Red BMW 340i xDrive, with a six-speed manual, M Sport Package and the Track Handling Package (which adds adjustable M suspension, M Brakes, Variable Steering, awesome 19 inch black wheels and some cool interior bits. I knew I was in for one helluva ride.

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The interior is almost identical to that of the pre-LCI 335i, but with some subtle tweaks. Overall, this is still and outstanding interior.

This engine sounds better than the outgoing N55. It burbles and growls like BMW inline-six of old

THE ENGINE

Clutch down, thumb the starter button, hear the all-new TwinPower 3.0 liter straight-six engine rumble to life. This engine sounds better than the outgoing N55. It burbles and growls like BMW inline-six of old. Slot the shifter into first, drop the handbrake, feed in some throttle and we’re off down the twistiest, most scenic road I’ve ever seen in my life.

The 340i pulls strong from 2,000 rpm and rewards revving it all the way to redline with an exhaust note that makes the M3 jealous. This could be the best sounding BMW currently on sale. It’s also one of the fastest.

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Mash the throttle and the turbocharged six surges the car toward the horizon with incredible authority and it’s as smooth as silk doing it. We’re talking jet-turbine smooth. Up and down the incredible roads, which featured drastic 1,000 ft. elevation changes, third gear was more than adequate for almost all situations. The new blown-six has enough torque to punch you out of turns even at lower speed and third is tall enough to get you to the next one without needing fourth and it pulls and screams all the way there. The N55 engine will live on as one of BMW’s all time greats. This new one might be even better. The gearbox was also a gem; smooth, throws were excellent and very tactile. The clutch travel was a bit long before engagement, but overall the gearbox was a joy to use on those canyon roads.

READ THIS: BMW 340i vs. E36 323i

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DRIVING IMPRESSIONS

When it came time to turn, the M Brakes from the Track Handling Package worked excellently. We really put those brakes to the test, with unrelenting hairpin turns that went on for over an hour, and they held up perfectly with zero fade. Pedal feel was superb and confidence inspiring. With nothing but a couple of rocks and a guardrail as thin as aluminum siding in between the car and a 1,000 ft tumble down to the bottom of the canyon, I never once doubted the brake’s ability to slow the car down in time. Some drivers will say that a car is only as good as its brakes. If that’s the case, the 340i is a great car.

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One of the big questions I had going into the drive of the 340i was how the variable steering was going to feel. Well, it got one helluva test in Mexico, that’s for sure, and it’s a damn good setup. Is it perfect, does it drip with feedback and does it feel as natural and neutral as a more traditional setup? No, no and no. At certain times, I could feel the weighting change mid-corner, which wasn’t unnerving or anything, but definitely odd. It had better feedback than expected, actually, and is one of the better electric power-steering racks I’ve used, but it’s obviously not the pure feel many BMW drivers are used to. However, as an E36 owner, I’d gladly drive one of these everyday and have nary a complaint about the steering.

The xDrive system also did a phenomenal job of feeling rear-drive but saving our behinds in some of the hairier blind corners

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In terms of what that steering translates inputs into, this new LCI F30 3 Series is going to be tough to beat in the class. The Jaguar XE is said to be better but that’s a tough thing to believe after seeing what this 340i could do. Turn-in is sharp and accurate and the chassis responds perfectly. It follows your driving line as if it were laser-guided. The xDrive system also did a phenomenal job of feeling rear-drive but saving our behinds in some of the hairier blind corners. The super-sticky Michelin Pilot Super Sports helped quite a bit, as well.

SHOULD I BUY ONE?

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Overall, the 340i is fast, fun and handles fantastically. The key metrics is fun, as 0-60 times and lateral G’s matter little in the real world, and this 340i is about as fun as it gets.

While driving through the absolutely gorgeous roads of Chihuahua, it was almost hard to concentrate on driving. The scenery was that incredible. The roads and the scenery were almost impossible to top, in terms of enjoyment and wow-factore. But the BMW 340i managed to do it. It’s proof that BMW is on top of the segment for a reason. The roads were perfect and the car was even better.

When you think of great driving roads, countries like Italy, Switzerland and Romania come to mind, usually. Italy's Stelvio Pass and Romania's Transfagarasan pass are arguably the best two driving roads in the world. However, Mexico, a country not known for its road quality, might just have a better one and it's the road that we just tested the new BMW 340i on. And it was incredible. BMW flew us all the way to Chihuahua, Mexico (not like the dog) to test the new 340i and X1 (that's an upcoming article). When we first heard that we were going to…
Overall, the 340i is fast, fun and handles fantastically. The key metrics is fun, as 0-60 times and lateral G's matter little in the real world, and this 340i is about as fun as it gets.

2016 BMW 340i

Exterior Appeal - 8
Interior Quality - 8
Steering Feedback - 8
Performance - 10
Handling - 9
BMWness/Ultimate Driving Machine - 9
Price Point - 9

8.7

Overall, the 340i is fast, fun and handles fantastically. The key metrics is fun, as 0-60 times and lateral G's matter little in the real world, and this 340i is about as fun as it gets.

22 responses to “FIRST DRIVE: 2016 BMW 340i”

  1. Mike Vella says:

    Great report! I’m going to have to make a visit to my dealer and ask for a test drive – they have a grey manual, as well..

  2. Kelly says:

    For the academics, what is the 0-60?

  3. Juan Carlos Jurado says:

    WHhere in Chihuahua is this road. I live in El, paso and would love to go to this road.

    • It’s the major road that connects towns like Creel to Batopilas. Creel is a beautiful town and so is Batopilas, very historical. I’d highly recommend driving though. It’s a long road and really quite treacherous, so be very careful if you do go, but it’s easily the best road I’ve ever driven on and it could challenge the best roads in the world. No joke. Here is the directions from Creel to Batopilas, zoom in really close and you’ll see just how tight and twisty the road is.

      https://www.google.com/maps/dir/Creel,+Basaseachi,+Ciudad+Cuauht%C3%A9moc,+Chih.,+Mexico/Batopilas,+Mexico/@27.5108619,-107.1206884,291521m/data=!3m1!1e3!4m14!4m13!1m5!1m1!1s0x86c1cbe9fdf721cd:0x19bdc9b3d10cb9cf!2m2!1d-106.8413577!2d28.4293097!1m5!1m1!1s0x86bf3c688ecb4f4d:0xe4017a202b964e29!2m2!1d-107.7362336!2d27.030387!3e0

  4. Stephen Garrett says:

    Damn, I have the wrong profession.

    As for the car, good to hear they improved upon the 335i. I can’t wait for the comparos. Out of curiosity, why no photos of the car you drove?

    • The red 340i with the black wheels above is the car I drove and I took those pictures, but we are waiting on pictures from BMW’s photographers which are better :)

      Also, yea not a bad profession!

      • SpeedyPro says:

        Awesome car, but if that Melbourne Red 340i in the pictures is in fact the car you drove, it doesn’t appear to have the M-Sport package as reported. Maybe I’m missing something.

      • Boondoggler says:

        Great article! I have a 2016 340i xDrive on order and your review really has me excited! Having not owned an xDrive before, I was concerned about the taller springs that come with it and how that would affect handling. Also, as an owner of a 2013 335i with variable sport steering, I’m glad you think they’ve improved it.

        Not to nitpick, but for the record, the black wheels that come with the track package that are in your pictures are 18″. They don’t offer a 19″ all black wheels on the 3 Series in the US.

      • Stephen Garrett says:

        Well, I was just curios, because I thought those wheels were 18’s, the interior shows the car to be an automatic, and it looks to only have the Sport Package, not M Sport. Can you explain?

  5. IceDree says:

    Excellent review Nico

  6. […] remember, driving the BMW 340i at its press launch in Mexico a few years ago. It was the first ever 3 Series to wear the […]

  7. […] remember, driving the BMW 340i at its press launch in Mexico a few years ago. It was the first ever 3 Series to wear the […]

  8. […] remember, driving the BMW 340i at its press launch in Mexico a few years ago. It was the first ever 3 Series to wear the […]

  9. […] remember, driving the BMW 340i at its press launch in Mexico a few years ago. It was the first ever 3 Series to wear the […]

  10. […] remember, driving the BMW 340i at its press launch in Mexico a few years ago. It was the first ever 3 Series to wear the […]

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