Road & Track tests BMW 340i vs Jaguar XE 35t R-Sport

3-Series, News | December 12th, 2016 by 14
Bild Vergleich BMW 3er F30 Jaguar XE S 2014 01 750x500

BMW’s 3 Series has lost a bit of its luster. The previously undisputed king of the executive sports car segment is more vulnerable than ever …

BMW’s 3 Series has lost a bit of its luster. The previously undisputed king of the executive sports car segment is more vulnerable than ever before. With new competitors from Cadillac, Jaguar and Alfa Romeo, the BMW 3 Series can now be challenged as to whether or not it’s still the king. So Road & Track put the best non-M variant of the 3 Series, the 340i, up against its most fierce rival, the Jaguar XE.

In Bavaria’s corner, the BMW 340i M Sport packs a 3.0 liter turbocharged I6 engine (dubbed B58) that makes 320 hp and is paired with a six-speed manual, powering just the rear wheels. So it’s basically the perfect variant of the 3 Series: I6 engine? Check. Rear-wheel drive? Check. Manual gearbox? Double check.

Fighting for Britain is the Jagaur XE 35t AWD R-Sport. That means it has a 340 hp 3.0 liter supercharged V6, an eight-speed automatic gearbox and all-wheel drive. It’s currently the fastest variant of the Jaguar XE in America and the XE is considered to be the only car capable of taking down the 3 Series. So, this is a seriously good car.

2016 bmw 340i test drive images 47 750x500

In terms of looks, the Jaguar XE is definitely the more better looking car. While the 340i is a handsome car, especially with the M Sport package, the Jag is downright sexy. It looks far better on the inside too, with a much more interesting and premium looking design. However, the 340i’s cabin is more ergonomic, packed with far better technology and made with better materials. The BMW 340i is clearly an exercise in substance over style and the Jag leans more in the opposite direction.

But where it really matters is in how these two cars drive. Much has been said about the impressive driving dynamics of the new Jaguar XE and deservedly so. It’s a sensational sport sedan with best-in-class steering and really sharp handling. However, the XE is an entirely brand-new model, a fresh effort. So it doesn’t have the dynamic refinement of the BMW 340i.

Whereas the Jaguar is exciting and fun but can be a bit nervous, the 340i is also exciting and fun but completely buttoned down. The two R&T drivers took both cars down many twisty back roads of New York State (whose roads are incredibly underrated, by the way) and both found the 340i to be the far more confidence inspiring car. It’s sharp and easy to throw around with superb chassis dynamics and a suspension that feels planted even over harsh and uneven tarmac. In the Jag, it’s just as fun, but feels considerably wider and more difficult to place on narrow roads. Its chassis was also more upset by sloppy pavement, causing hesitation from the drivers to push it, whereas the BMW took the same roads with confidence and ease.

Jaguar XE R Sport cars sedan 2015 1440x9004 750x469

In the end, the BMW 340i is the winner of the test. While it didn’t have the exciting styling or pure steering feel of the Jaguar, it was simply better at everything else. It’s the experienced veteran to the young-buck Jaguar. While the Jaguar XE is a superb sport sedan, one that anyone would absolutely adore if owned, it needs some time to mature and grow up. Great first effort, but the old dog still has enough tricks to beat the rookie.

[Source: Road & Track]

14 responses to “Road & Track tests BMW 340i vs Jaguar XE 35t R-Sport”

  1. John says:

    How was Jaguar capable of making a 3-series competitor in so little time?

    • Zain Merchant says:

      X billion dollars from Tata Motors.

      • Jose Rivera says:

        Actually Jaguar Land Rover has been self funded since 2010. Haven’t had to borrow from the patent company since then. That’s straight from Ratan Tata himself.

      • John says:

        Are you just making up numbers?

        • Zain Merchant says:

          Of course that’s a made up number. I wasn’t speaking in Roman numerals.

          The point was that they have been able to launch these projects so quickly because of the significant funding at first, and then the success of Land Rover.

          Tata has invested almost 14 billion USD in JLR. That is not a made up number.

  2. Jose Rivera says:

    This is not a fair test. The XE in this test is AWD while the BMW is RWD. The XE would be much heavier. Motortrend’s recent RWD XE’s numbers destroyed the most recent 340i they tested.

    • Road & Track actually weren’t all that concerned with numbers. They were more concerned with how sure-footed the 340i felt compared to the XE. In fact, the AWD of the XE would allow it more stability through corners. Yet, despite the XE’s extra grip, they felt the 340i was the more planted and confidence-inspiring car.

      • Jose Rivera says:

        It wasn’t just about the numbers.

        “The numbers imply it, but the experience behind the seat seals it: Here’s your luxury sport sedan handling benchmark. The 35t offers friendly neutrality through accurate steering and a responsive chassis, which makes it playful in a way that encourages you to drive it harder. This sedan is equally fun to place on the corner of an empty mountain road or up a freeway on-ramp. Even better, the optional 20-inch wheels don’t adversely affect ride quality, thanks in part to the XE’s automatically adjusting dampers.”

        There have been several comparison tests between the 340i and XE that have come to the same conclusion.

        • Me says:

          Agreed. I think this may be first XE review or comparison that I’ve read or watched where it did not come out on top with respect to sports oriented handling.

          I’ve been a fan of BMWs for a long time. I’m struggling to stay interested in the offerings due to the mass market dilution. The i3 may be may last BMW. The E90 is almost certainly the last 3-er since the G20 has increased in size yet again. I’m hanging on tight to that one.. took a month to find one with 6MT. I really like the M2 but I need 4 doors and preferably a hatch, a sportback/gran coupe at the minimum. Would love a proper hot hatch.

          The 35t, I-Pace, or rumored PHEV JLR crossover are at the top of my list in 2-3 years time. Also, if rumors/hints are true, a BEV/PHEV XE would almost seal the deal for me.

    • JRobUSC says:

      I thought they compared the XE to a 335i, not a 340i? I personally drive a 340i with the Track Pack and 18″ Super Sports, and it is night and day different than a 335i. The suspension revisions to the 2016 models are enormous, especially with those tires (the brakes are massively better, too). Simple put a 340i would walk all over a 335i — with the right options it wouldn’t even be a fair comparison.

  3. Edward Smith says:

    What a surprise, BMW wins test in a BMW Blog. Driven both these cars. Jaguar far more fun to drive and more comfortable. Better looking too. Interior looks more sharp but BMW slightly better built. I went for C class in the end due to finance package.

  4. CD50 says:

    visibility from within XE poor, iffy interior quality. plenty of hype. I looked hard at both – for me easy choice 340Msport. And it looks classier and timeless.

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