The 3-series has been the most successful product of all time for BMW. Since its launch in 1975, the 3-series has been the brand's bread-and-butter sedan, offering brisk performance at a relatively affordable price for a premium car. Overall, the 3-series accounts for about 30% of BMW's worldwide sales each year.
In America, the 3-series is popular with driving enthusiasts who also need a good family sedan. Several amateur racing series have been built around older models of this car because the price-to-performance ratio is so good. BMW launched the current generation of this model last year, and this car has a good claim to be the best 3-series ever made.
The M340i with xDrive all-wheel-drive is the top of the 3-series line this year. You can start with the basic rear-wheel-drive 330i for about $40,750, plus fees. The M340i with xDrive starts at $56,000.
Where the 330i has a turbocharged four-cylinder engine at 255 horsepower, the M340i gives you a turbocharged 3.0-liter inline six-cylinder with 382 horsepower. BMW equips all new 3-series cars with an eight-speed automatic transmission. You can save $2,000 on the M340i if you choose rear-wheel-drive, but here in Portland that's probably not the best choice. We had the M340i through some of the recent weather, and the AWD system was perfectly suited to our winters.
Inside, the 340i is comfortable, in the athletic way that BMW likes to do luxury. The seats are firm and supportive, rather than soft and cradling. There's plenty of room in the back seat, as the 3-series has grown over the years. Also, unlike some other luxury cars, the BMW's controls are laid out in a familiar and easy-to-use manner.
BMW's infotainment interface has been greatly improved over the last 10 years. A multi-function dial/joystick on the console allows complete control, but the screen on the dash also supports touch functions.
On the road, the M340i feels solid and inspires confidence. Even in heavy rain, the xDrive system delivers constant traction and crisp steering. The M340i drivetrain pulls strongly, but avoids any sense of having too much power. It has power to pass any time you choose, but it will never get away from you. This car gives you the sort of poised performance that you expect from a BMW.
If you're looking for a premium sport sedan, the 2020 BMW M340i is a worthy choice. This sporty and luxurious BMW competes with the Mercedes-Benz C-class, Audi A6, Volvo S60, Acura TLX, or Infiniti Q60. For a wild card competitor, consider the Genesis G70. With premium sedans, it pays to take your time and give each brand a thorough test-drive before making a decision.
2020 BMW M340i xDrive
Base price: $56,000
Price as tested: $69,570
Type: Compact sedan
Engine: 3.0-liter turbocharged inline 6-cylinder (382 hp, 369 lbs-ft)
Transmission: 8-speed automatic
EPA estimated mileage: 22/30
Overall length: 185.7 inches
Curb weight: 3,968 pounds
Final assembly: Munich, Germany
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