Review: 2016 BMW 340i xDrive – Exhilarating Driving Performance
For years, BMW has boasted that it builds the “Ultimate Driving Machines” and while critics and competitors have increasing sought to counter that claim, a recent weeklong drive in a 2016 BMW 340i only confirmed that claim. If driving, real fun, spirited driving is at the top of your buying list, the 340i has to be a top choice.
Delivered to me in a Melbourne Red Metallic, the iconic looking 340i certainly had all the distinctive character and desirable appearance attributes reminiscent of BMW models over the years. While I’ve watched them from afar, this BMW would be my first time spending extensive time behind the wheel. It did not disappoint.
Turning over the engine and firing up the 3.0L twin-turbo inline six-cylinder, the BMW rumbles to life with performance seemingly pouring out of the stuffed engine bay. In fact, the first time it came to life, I stood an admired how perfect it sounded.
Behind the wheel, the 8-speed automatic transmission, engaged by both a well-placed center console gear shifter along with steering-wheel mounted paddle shifters, provided a range of fun through a variety of drive modes. In sport mode, the BMW 340i felt like a rocket and took some adjusting to steering inputs and changes to how the gas pedal quickly responds to any throttle. While in Eco mode, the BMW provides a smooth and luxury drive with the 8-speed minimizing shifting points disruptions. Typically, I drove this sedan around in normal mode which I found to be both adequate for everyday driving and for really getting on it.
Prior to getting the BMW, I have driven a large variety of Lexus sedan models including IS versions in F-Sport setups. With those vehicles, I have become attuned to driving deeper into the corners and hammering the throttle on exits. While the Lexus models provide a similar smooth drive like the BMW 340i, they pall in comparison to how much further you can push the BMW and how much quicker it is.
This power is a little different this year as the twin-turbo inline six-cylinder engine is new for this model. It produces 320 hp @ 6500 rpm and 330 lb-ft @ 1380 rpm. Looking over other reviews from notable sources, the 0-60 times are all around 4.2-4.6 seconds. In comparison, the Lexus IS 350 F-Sport is around 5.4-5.6 seconds. In other words, a notable difference.
Complementing the performance is a driving position ideally situated to command the sedan. With good visibility, sport-designed seats hugging you are you quicker and precise steering and handling, it is simply easier to drive this car faster and dig deeper into corners. It simply wants you to drive it this way and BMW says its nearly 50/50 weight distribution of the car is really what allows it to drive this deep into the corners.
Besides the exhilarating driving experience, our test model came with a wonderful Harmon Kardon surround sound audio system, handy heads-up display and the remarkable iDrive system with BMW online and apps via a 6.5” dash mounted infotainment screen. The iDrive system is powered by touch or through a center-console control knob which flips through the various menus with ease. However, navigating the menus takes some memorization skills to do adequately while driving or stopped at a traffic light. There are a host of choices and cycling through them takes time. Knowing this, I would suspect, BMW has included 8 programmable memory buttons to speed up the process of getting to your favorite screens like driving setup, radio and phone.
Almost forgotten by the performance and the technology is the interior styling and comfort. Our test model came with Dakota black/red leather which accented the exterior color. While the color was sharp, the overall interior was just OK. It interior lacks some of the luxury styling and material choices found in other luxury models and the seat comfort is just Ok, not great, not terrible. There is ample head, leg and hip room for both the front and rear passengers as well as a decent amount of storage. The trunk can fit a set of golf clubs and a few other items. Nothing on the interior really stands out as “above class” and it is merely class standard.
Overall, it is clear where BMW put its money and attention on the 340i xDrive – the performance. While others may best it on interiors and technology, the 340i simply performs on the road and is an exhilarating driving experience. And isn’t having fun while driving what it is all about?
Model: 2016 BMW 340i xDrive
Engine: 3.0L twin-turbo inline six-cylinder
Transmission: 8-speed automatic
HP/Torque: 320 HP, 330 lb-ft of torque
0-60: 4.2-4.6 seconds (est)
Fuel Economy: 22/32/26 city/highway/combined
- Melbourne Red Metallic – $550
- Leather Dakota Black/Red Interior – $1,450
- Cold Weather Package (Heated Steering Wheel, Heated Front Seats, Heated Rear Seats) – $800
- Driver Assistance Package (Rear View Camera, Park Distance Control) – $950
- Driver Assistance Plus (Active Blind Spot Detection, Active Driving Assistance, Side and Top View Cameras) – $1700
- Lighting Package (Automatic High Beams) – $800
- Technology Package (Navigation System, Head-Up Display, BMW Online and BMW Apps, Advanced RTTI, Remote Services) – $2750
- Rear manual side window shades – $575
- Active Cruise Control – $1200
- Enhanced Bluetooth and Smartphone In – $350
Price as Tested: $59,920 with $995 destination charge
- Powertrain performance
- Driving Dynamics
- iDrive Responsiveness
- Interior Styling
- iDrive’s massive amount of menus
- Needs more interior storage
Tim Esterdahl is a married father of three who enjoys all things automotive including wrenching on his collection of old pickups. You can find his work here and in print in Truck Trend magazine as well as on Pickuptrucks.com. Recently, he is growing a huge audience at his website PickTruckTalk.com
He also plays an absurd amount of golf. Like, really absurd.