TEST DRIVE: 2019 BMW M340i xDrive – The European Model

Test Drives | October 31st, 2019 by 4
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One of the most exciting cars to come out of Munich in the last year is the BMW M340i. The M Performance vehicle fills a void between the 3 Series range and the future BMW M3 G80. While the North American market gets two variants – the rear-wheel drive and the all-wheel drive – the Europeans will have to do with just the xDrive system. According to BMW, the data collected from the previous generation F30 340i, showed that most European customers prefer to have the power sent to all four wheels.

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BMW M340i RWD vs. xDrive

Yet, that’s not the only change compared to the US model. European customers will get their models with an Otto particulate filter installed, which means their cars will develop 374 HP and 500 Nm (369 lb-ft) of torque. US-bound models get a bit more power, rated at 382 HP and the same amount of torque. Not a significant difference in performance, but one in sound (more on that shortly).

According to BMW engineers, the weight of the 2019 BMW M340i xDrive is between 75 and 85 kg higher than the rear-wheel drive model. The ride heigh is also increased on the xDrive version by 4 millimeters. To compensate for the additional heft, the damper setup at the front and rear is also slightly different than the M340i RWD. And last but not least important, while mechanically identical, the suspension setup on the M340i xDrive is stiffer to deal with the extra kilos.

Power and Performance

During a brief prior to my test drive in Munich, BMW engineers outlined some of the features of the B58 engine found in the M340i. A few things stood out. Firstly, compared to the N55 powerplant, the B58 unit has an increase in output of 48 hp and 50 Nm. Secondly, the TwinPower turbocharger has been designed in the new unit for exhaust temperatures of 1,010 degrees Celsius. Thirdly, the rotating assembly inertia was also reduced by 25 percent compared to the previous six-cylinder engine resulting in better response and reduced turbo lag. There are also weight-optimized pistons and connecting rods, as well as a forged steel crankshaft.

All these upgrades are immediately noticeable in the engine’s response, considering that the maximum torque of 500 Nm starts at  1,850 rpm and goes up to 5,000 rpm.

While I have not had the chance to do an instrumented test, the BMW M340i xDrive is said to accelerate to 100 km / h in 4.4 seconds. In a previous test, on the track, without a Vbox, we managed to run the standard sprint in 3.7 seconds.

Even with the official sprint numbers, the BMW M340i xDrive is just slightly behind the more powerful F80 M3 Sedan and, interesting enough, faster than the V8-powered E92 M3.

Ride and Handing

Sheer power is hardly the story with the 2019 BMW M340i xDrive. Instead, the premium sedan aims to offer a rounded package that caters to a wide range of customers. To achieve that, there were several tech bits added to the car. It all starts with the electro-mechanical locking differential which acts like a mechanical LSD transferring the torque from one axle to the other.

Next, the M340i xDrive makes use of an M Sport Suspension and an optional Adaptive M Suspension. The latter combines the M Sport suspension with electronically controlled dampers. BMW has also revised the variable steering with the rack being sharper on center, with less of a dead spot and increased precision. Furthermore, the teeth spacing on the rack in the steering changes more gradually. Now as you turn the wheel, and the pinion gear turns on the rack, the teeth spacing changes as you turn past a certain point, and the steering ratio becomes faster.

Especially when it comes to cornering, even on backroads, you can immediately sense a sharper response from the car compared to the outgoing F30 340i.

During a short loop around Garching, I had the chance to put to test the rear limited slip differential and the xDrive system. In Sport and Sport Plus, the 2019 BMW M34oi xDrive is quite stiff and tuned up. The suspension is firm, the steering is sharp, allowing to enter and exit the corners with ease. A nice engineering trick comes in play when you ride in the sport modes. The M340i sedan now transfers some of its power to the rear-wheels, allowing for some controlled slips. If you turn off the DSC, the rear-end gets even more joyful, but you’re still in control of the car thanks to the xDrive system.

Of course, this is just on regular streets and your mileage might vary on the track.

Thanks to the all-wheel drive system and the sticky Michelin PS4S, there is plenty of grip to rely on, even when searching for that tenth.

A pro driver could argue that the tail feels slightly heavy – this is a 1,670 kgs car – so more steering inputs are needed when existing a corner, but that’s nit picking since the M340i is not meant to be a full-M model.

While still in the Sport mode, it’s hard not to notice the precise gear changes, thanks to the ever-refined ZF 8-speed transmission. The steering is direct and connected to the asphalt, yet it’s quite twitchy on uneven surfaces. Depending on your driving style, you will either hate it or love it.

But then again, the M340i xDrive is highly configurable so you can always adjust several settings which impact the ride quality.

The best part of the 2019 BMW M340i xDrive is that it can fulfill several roles in your driving life. You can rely on it as a daily driver with its adaptive modes, especially in Comfort where the car is toned down and becomes a comfortable cruiser. As you’d expect, the ride is quite soft now and the engine has less desire to please. But for some, it’s what the doctor prescribed.

I left the engine sound for last. Having some prior experience with the US-bound M340i, I was interested to see what the difference in acoustics would be. And unfortunately, there is one. Even with a cold start, the European 2019 BMW M340i xDrive lacks the growly and deep sound of the non-OPF model, so if you put them side-by-side, the decibels delta will be noticeable.

You can immediately hear the oppression in sound and even in Sport modes with the valve opens, it just doesn’t quite get to the level of the American models. It’s hardly BMW’s fault here, but nonetheless, it’s an area of improvement for future models with the otto particulate filters.

Should I Buy One?

The 2019 BMW M340i xDrive is a well-rounded premium sedan. The car has been well balanced in all areas, from its exterior and interior design, to the tech and digital interfaces, and of course, to the driving modes. It can be emotional when you want it to be or docile at a switch of a button. At the same time, it’s quite impressive how far we’ve come in terms of compact sedans and their sheer power and performance. The technology moves fast and the M cars of yesterday are the standard cars of today.

If you get your hands on either the rear-wheel drive or the xDrive M340i, you won’t be disappointed. It’s a premium car with sports genes and it sets the tone for the next BMW M3 G80 generation.

2019 BMW M340i xDrive Review

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

8.9

The 2019 BMW M340i xDrive is a well-rounded premium sedan. The car has been well balanced in all areas, from its exterior and interior design, to the tech and digital interfaces, and of course, to the driving modes. It can be emotional when you want it to be or docile at a switch of a button. At the same time, it's quite impressive how far we've come in terms of compact sedans and their sheer power and performance. The technology moves fast and the M cars of yesterday are the standard cars of today. 

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