2016 BMW 340i xDrive Sedan
Another name change, another (new) engine.
Hey, wait a minute! What happened to the 335i?
We were asking the same question about the 330i 9 years ago when the 335 was introduced into the BMW lexicon. Just as it was the case then, the same holds true for this new designation- the numbers on the trunk lid have absolutely nothing to do with what’s under the hood. For model year 2016, 340 refers to yet another new inline six turbo.
Whoa. How many different versions have there been?
Since 2007, the highest rung on the 3 series ladder has been powered by no fewer than three different inline six turbo engines, or basically a totally new design every 3 years. We’re pretty confident that you won’t find another example of such brisk engine bay turnover in the entire industry. And its not like the earliest versions were clunkers- far from it. BMW is among the best makers of inline sixes, and their expertise wasn’t at all dulled by the addition of turbos- this fastidious tweaking and massaging didn’t have a big effect on outputs (nearly all of the N54 twin turbo/N55 single turbo examples produced 300 horsepower/300 pounds feet of torque) but made a significant difference in the linearity of the power delivery, increased efficiency and better low end twist. Now we have the B58 engine for 2016, hence the nomenclature change to 340i.
What’s so special about the B58?
First off, the B58 ups the ante in the power department to the tune of 320 horsepower and 330 pounds feet of torque. These aren’t particularly meaningful numbers, but the upgrade is certainly felt- our 340i tester felt strong no matter the gear or engine speed, and sounded properly sweet while doing so. So much praise has been lavished on this engine, and it seems redundant to rattle off all the virtues it offers. Yet we cannot craft a Road Test write-up without mentioning its peerless good manners, even when we deploy the most flattering prose in its direction- it is so smooth that you wonder if they’ve somehow figured out how to exorcise all the unsavory aspects of internal combustion. It can be efficient too; we saw 11.3L/100km in mixed driving during our Road Test.
Got it. Can we expect the same chassis massaging regimen from the 328i Touring you recently tested?
From the entry level 320i to the loaded 340i you see here all enjoyed the same dynamic honing for the midcylce refresh. As with the 328i wagon, there is still some work to be done in the steering department- we miss the endless stream of dialogue from the steering wheel via the front tires we used to relish from generations past. You can feel the progress when you ask the 340i to change direction or when hustling it through some twisty bits. Simply put, it feels sharper and more alert and some of the athleticism of old is apparent. There is still some work to do before we can fully celebrate that elusive combination of all-day comfort and driving precision again, but we are certainly moving in the right direction.
Does that mean the 3 series is still king of the segment?
Yes, but its reign is the most tenuous it has ever been in history. Two of the fiercest competitors the 3 series goes to battle against can be found in the Mercedes Benz C class and the Audi A4 which have recently enjoyed clean-sheet redesigns, and to good effect. The C Class has improved mightily with it’s new baby S Class duds and the A4 will offer a slew of ground-breaking automotive technologies when it starts landing in dealerships later this year. They are formidable opponents, but still can’t quite match the 3 series all around proficiency. As good as the other two are, they lack the ability to paste an ear to ear grin on ones face as effortlessly as the mighty 3.
What’s not to like?
We spent time agonizing over this one, because it’s quite difficult to pinpoint something that’s legitimate to gripe about. Here’s what we came up with: as usual, the price can climb quickly as you make your way through the options catalogue and the climate control lacks a ‘sync’ button so you have to adjust the zones manually. That’s pretty much it, folks. You have too look that hard for stuff to complain about. Until we can say the same about the gaggle of cars trying to dethrone the 3 series from its perennial greatness, it’s still the one you’ll want to put in your driveway.
2016 BMW 340i xDrive Sedan– Specifications
- Price as tested: $64,340
- Body Type: 4-door, 5 passenger sedan
- Powertrain Layout: Front engine/all-wheel drive
- Engine: 3.0-litre inline-6 turbo, DOHC, 24 valves
- Horsepower: 320 @ 5,500-6,500 rpm
- Torque (lb-ft.): 332 @ 1,380-5,000 rpm
- Transmission: 8-speed automatic
- Curb weight: 1,733 kg (3,820 lbs)
- Observed Fuel Economy: 11.3L/100km (21 mpg)