Is the M340i X Drive Touring the Ultimate BMW Sleeper?
BMW's M Division is still having a play with the 3 Series Wagon, and the new M340i X-Drive Touring could be the best yet.
Wagons are cool. They always have been and always will be. However, the only thing which outperforms a regular wagon on the scale of coolness, is the hot wagon. The Germans are naturals to this formula.
They have a knack for simply stuffing as much power and torque into car which can seat five comfortably, a smorgasbord of luggage, and can rearrange your fillings with blinding acceleration and will hang with your average sports car at speeds more accustomed to their de-restricted autobahns.
Such a car which slots perfectly into this category is the BMW M340i Touring X-Drive. BMW claim the new hot 3 series wagon is the perfect mix of “power and athleticism,” lets see if this rings true. Well, it wouldn’t be a hot wagon if power wasn’t high on the agenda, and the M340i has plenty of it. However, it is not what one would call a power house. Maybe more of a power bungalow.
Under the bonnet sits a newly developed twin scroll turbocharged straight six with 285kW and a meaty 500Nm of torque, an increase in power and torque by 45kW and 50Nm over the previous generation. BMW boffins have achieved this by fitting the M340i with a compact steel exhaust manifold, which when combined with the turbocharger, provides extra boost pressure and hikes up the power.
Sending the grunt to all four wheels is BMW’s latest gen X-Drive all-wheel-drive system and their slick eight-speed Steptronic transmission. The latter has been fine tuned to make quick shifting via the paddles an addictive pastime. Also, the addition of Launch Control allows you to see the far side of 100km/h in 4.5 seconds.
Looks wise, the M340i Touring X-Drive follows the classic sleeper wagon recipe. Its performance hallmarks are there, be it with a more subtle edge. Obvious signs include the blacked-out front grill, black 19-inch M-Sport alloys housing M-Sport brakes with M-Sport calipers, and mirror caps. More subtle touches are the model lettering finished in Cerrium Grey Metallic and the shark fin on the roof near the rear three quarter.
The M340I Touring X-Drive is also bigger than the previous gen, being 76mm longer length, 16 mm wider, and an 8mm increase in height. It also features a wider front and rear track. Inside, things are very BMW indeed, but with added M-ness.
Hop in and you noticed the M340i embossed door sills, hip hugging sports seats with seatbelts straight from the M-Sport catalogue, leather clad M-Sport steering wheel which feels really good in your mitts, and M roof lining.
All the infotainment system controls are classic BMW and easy to get your head around, and there is plenty of head and legroom to speak of. The same can be said of rear seat passengers and the 500L cargo space is more than adequate. However, drop the rear seats and this increases to a fairly gargantuan 1,510L.
Get up and going and in Comfort mode, things are very civilized. Adaptive suspension allows for a sporty ride without being too uncomfortable. It isn’t long before you are slicing through down town traffic with that sweet-sounding turbo six on song. However, its when we leave built up areas does the M340I X-Drive Touring really come into its own.
Up to Sport mode, steering weights up, throttle response is sharper and up changes are quicker, move up to Sport Plus, and things are even more hardcore. In Sport Plus, X-Drive sends most of the power to the rear wheels in typical BMW style, and the onboard electronically controlled M Sport differential gives you a dramatic increase in traction while still giving you on the road stability.
With the M340i, it is very much a point and shoot kind of animal. Utilising even a fraction of those 285kW, you can cover ground at a fairly rapid pace. The gear ratios are quite close together. It becomes easy to see that claimed 4.5 seconds to 100km/h as a certifiable fact. High in the rev range, that turbo six howls like a wounded animal and every down change gives you a satisfying bark on the way down.
With that X-Drive constantly talking to you, its easy to know how much to push in any given corner. Its supercar like responses means you have to be on your game in order to get the most out of this sleeper.
Despite being moderate in terms of outright grunt compared to other German hot wagons, you still need to question the emptiness of the road, the conditions and the surface itself before giving it heaps.
However, once you have finished your dash along your favourite B-road, the M340i settles down into a very sublime long-distance tourer. Maybe the Touring part of the name wasn’t just clever branding?
The only real drawback to the M340i X-Drive Touring that I can see is the price, $125,900NZ plus ORC. That is a $28,000NZ increase from the very capable 330d X-Drive Touring at $97,900NZ plus ORC.
Despite the steep price, its hard not to be rather smitten with just how good this mildly hot German wagon is. The M340I X-Drive Touring is incredibly agile, very spacious, has more than enough grunt to get you into trouble, and the handling prowess to keep you out of it.
Don’t mind paying a premium and want something which can thrill you everyday while still able to do the weekly shop and want to stay well clear of SUV’s? You had best check this one out.
A superbly engineered package of space and pace