The stakes have never been higher for BMW and its 3 Series. While the Bavarians have always had incredible success with the 3 Series, and still are, its competition has never been better. The new Mercedes-Benz C-Class is superb and customers are loving its S-Class-grade interior at a quarter of the price. The new Alfa Romeo Giulia offers Italian styling and incredibly driving dynamics, over the 3er’s more traditional German qualities. And the Audi A4 is as well-rounded and impressive as ever. So BMW knows that it needs to knock this next 3 Series out of the park and it’s going to do so with the same characteristic that has always made the 3 Series so great — performance. So the headliners for the upcoming 3 Series will be the BMW M340i and M340d.

Based on BMW’s new CLAR architecture, the 3 Series will be longer, lighter and stiffer than the car it replaces. It will also be more dynamic and sportier, as are all new BMW’s built on the CLAR platform. But the sportiest variants of them all will be the two M Performance models.

The BMW M340i will use a variant of the new B58 3.0 liter turbocharged I6 engine that should make around 360 hp and 370 lb-ft of torque, give or take a bit of either. It will certainly be offered with an eight-speed automatic gearbox and be rear-wheel drive as-standard, with xDrive likely as an option. There’s no official word on a manual transmission option but we don’t see why it wouldn’t be offered. That car should be sort of a middle-man in between the standard 3 Series and BMW M3.

What’s even more interesting is the BMW M340d xDrive that will act as the M340i’s evil twin. That will get a 3.0 liter turbocharged I6 diesel engine that is said to make around 320 hp and likely around 475 lb-ft of torque. It will also be paired with an eight-speed automatic and power all four wheels, via xDrive. With that sort of torque and all-wheel drive, the BMW M340d xDrive could be even faster than the M340i and could be the one to get.

We’re excited about the upcoming 3 Series, as what we’ve seen of it has been promising, such as its new interior and technology. But the prospect of an M Performance 3 Series in the same vein as the M240i is an exciting one. The BMW M340i and M340d might have some seriously good competition to take on when they finally debut but it might just have the goods to beat them.

[Source: Autocar]