Car Reviews Motoring

BMW 3 Series M340d xDrive Saloon

Written by Tim Barnes-Clay

Since its launch back in the decade of space hoppers and flared trousers – (the 1970s for those of you who don’t know what I’m on about), over 15 million 3 Series models have been sold.

Many of the sales have happened here in Britain, but competitors like Audi’s A4 and Mercedes’ C-Class are constantly snapping at the 3 Series’ coattails.

These motors keep BMW from resting on its laurels too much, which is good because it keeps the bimmer sharp.

Performance

BMW’s 3 Series line-up entails a bunch of petrols and diesels – and the 330e hybrid.

The engines can be massively powerful, and it’s the M340d xDrive I drove for this review.

The oil-burner costs over £53k and comes with a three-litre turbo unit. This powerplant produces 340PS, and with the help of a quick-shifting eight-speed auto gearbox, 0-62mph is realisable in 4.6 seconds.

What’s more, the top speed is 155mph, which is brisk enough for most folk – especially in this country with our 70mph ceiling. 

Ride & Handling

If a saloon car is your thing, then you’ll probably already know that the BMW 3 Series is legendary in this segment.

Even though the M340d xDrive is propelled by diesel, the car’s cabin is as quiet as a church mouse. There’s hardly any vibration from the engine, either. Much of the sound-deadening can be attributed to well-sealed window surrounds, double-glazing and a windscreen with acoustic glass.

The M340d makes light work of the UK’s well-worn road surfaces. It skips across potholes and sticks to corners like gum to the sole of your shoe.

Despite being known as a “compact” executive, the 3 Series is no small car. However, at the tiller, it feels lithe and light. The steering set-up makes driving the vehicle effortless, and the switchgear is intuitive, making the saloon perfect for trips around town or longer commutes.

Refinement

BMWs are refined – it’s in the German firm’s genetic material to be sophisticated. After all, what good is a bimmer with a devastating dearth of classiness? Okay, a 3 Series is not intended to be a Rolls-Royce, but a renowned Teutonic make is expected to have a certain finesse. The M340d xDrive doesn’t displease in this respect.

The seats are supportive, and the cabin offers a close to perfect driving position. A good range of seat and steering wheel adjustment helps with getting comfy in the driving pew.

Add BMW’s awesome iDrive infotainment tech into the mix, and life is good. The rotary controlled system is utterly intuitive – almost foolproof to use. Indeed, many automakers have tried, few have succeeded in making their infotainment systems as good as the iDrive.

Elsewhere, BMW’s superlative build quality and insulation described above are in attendance. So you certainly won’t feel fleeced if refinement is high on your list of car “must-haves”.

Behind the Wheel

Well, anyone clued-up with the way BMW does things will feel unperturbed here. High-grade materials, deftly designed surfaces and the driver-targeted composition of the cockpit characterise the performance aura of the 3 Series’ cabin.

Technology is abundant on the bimmer, starting with a sizable digital cockpit, which incorporates navigation. There’s also Apple CarPlay connectivity, live traffic data and Microsoft Office. Furthermore, a rear-view camera and parking sensors are fixtures on every BMW 3 Series model.

Overall, the M340d xDrive’s cockpit comes with controls that are in all the areas you’d expect them to be. It is a typically commendable effort from BMW, with no unpleasant surprises.

Space & Practicality

I’ve already said that the 3 Series is a compact car, but there’s more room inside the BMW than you might imagine. It will seat five-up, although two adults in the rear will be more comfortable than three. This is due to the intruding transmission tunnel.

While it’s a low-slung saloon to get into (perhaps too low for some), the back doors are large, and there’s a good serving of legroom and headroom. Of course, you will also get your family’s belongings in the 480-litre boot. Sure, it’s not as practical as a hatchback or an estate, but I got five people’s worth of stuff in there on my family’s 200-mile test drive.

What’s more, the 3 Series has lots of side pockets in the load bay – and you can order luggage nets as an optional extra. Also, the BMW’s rear seats fold down if you want to load long or bulky items.

Running Costs

As with most motors, the declared fuel economy statistics for the 3 Series differ depending on how sizeable the wheels and tyres are. But, as a rule, the bigger the wheels, the thirstier the car becomes.

The M340d xDrive on test here returns up to 46.3mpg and emissions are relatively low (considering the car’s performance) at 159g/km CO2.

Vehicle Safety & Security

The BMW 3 Series attained the maximum five-star grade when tried and tested by Euro NCAP. It achieved a genuinely incredible 97 per cent score for adult occupant safety, with tallies of 87 per cent in both pedestrian and child safety.

The 3 Series comes factory fitted with Active Guard Plus, which comprises front collision warning with braking intervention and pedestrian recognition, speed limit assist and lane-departure alert. In addition, airbags all over the car increase protection further.

BMW works to improve and design the best systems you can get when it comes to vehicle security. But, let’s face it, it needs to – BMWs are sought after cars, and you don’t want yours pinched.

The automaker doesn’t stop there, though – it also works together with the authorities in reacting to threats and forecasting new risks. So, be assured, you’re in excellent hands if you purchase or lease the awesome M340d xDrive.

Fast Facts

  • Max speed: 1555 mph
  • 0-62 mph: 4.6 secs
  • Combined mpg: 46.3
  • Engine: 3.0-litre six-cylinder turbo diesel
  • Max. power (PS): 340
  • CO2: 159 g/km
  • Price: £53,420

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