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Driven

BMW M340i xDrive

3 months ago

Writer:

Andrew Frankel | Ti co-founder

Date:

19 November 2022

Okay, so this was unexpected. I dread to think how many car launches I’ve attended in almost 35 years in this job, but I’m fairly confident this was the first I went to intending to review one car, and came back having decided to review another, entirely different car.

But honestly, after I’d driven the BMW M340i, I didn’t feel really like I had much of a choice. Allow me to explain why.

BMW M340i xDrive

I’d turned up to drive the new BMW X1. And I’d like to say the X1 was all very interesting, but I’m afraid it simply wasn’t. It’s another one of those mealy-mouthed crossovers that’s happy to be as bland as bland can be, so long as there’s no chance of anyone taking offence. Which they won’t, any more than they might be offended by Ken Bruce, Celine Dion or digestive biscuits.

BMW M340i

Actually the X1 is one of the better efforts in that perennially underachieving category, but that’s not really the point. Because BMW had brought some other cars along, one of which was the facelifted 3 Series. So I nicked the keys for an M340i and almost before I was off the drive of the posh hotel at which BMW had based its launch, I knew I was back somewhere I belonged, somewhere I wanted to stay.

BMW M340i xDrive interior

This car is so good. Not pyrotechnically, jaw in lap, forget to breathe good, just quietly, efficiently yet engagingly excellent. I’m drawing no comparisons between it and the X1 because they’re different cars at different price points, but as I drove the M340i, I found myself wondering why on earth anyone would choose any kind of higher, heavier, more compromised crossover for a sum that would buy you any kind of 3 Series.

I’m still wondering. The M340i was refined, fast, rode well, handled beautifully and, with four-wheel drive and Touring bodywork (the car I tested was an estate rather than the saloon you see here), matched a crossover task for task. I know small estates are falling from favour, I just don’t know why. Sure, some appreciate a raised driving position but to me the price paid in ride, handling, performance, handling and economy is too high. I’d take this Touring every day of the week. Over any of them.

BMW M340i xDrive
Engine: 2998cc, 6-cyl, turbo
Transmission: 8-speed auto, 4WD
Power: 374bhp @5500rpm
Torque: 369lb ft @ 1900rpm
Weight: 1795kg
Power-to-weight ratio: 208bhp/tonne
0-62mph: 4.6 seconds
Top speed: 155mph
Price: £56,455
Ti rating: 9/10

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