With the all-new 3.0-liter turbocharged inline-six nestled behind its double-kidney grille, It’s really easy to go too fast in the new 2016 BMW 340i xDrive. The 340i’s six-cylinder in the 340i is part of BMW’s new modular family of engines, including the four-cylinder used in other Stateside 3-Series models (and in the 3-Series in Europe) and the new 1.5-liter three-cylinder used by Mini as its base engine.
And is it a great engine. Like its predecessor in last year’s 335i, the 340i’s six has a 3.0-liter displacement, and the new engine has direct fuel injection, a single twin-scroll turbocharger, double-VANOS variable camshaft timing and Valvetronic fully variable valve lift, as did it the previous three-liter six.
But the engine is genuinely all new, right down to the block. It’s a closed deck design. The water jacket is isn’t open at the top of the block, allowing the engine block to be thinner and lighter without losing any rigidity. High-strength cylinder liners are twin-wire, arc-sprayed coating which saves weight compared to a conventional liner, but allow greater thermal transfer thanks to the thinner cylinder wall thickness.
BMW engineers, however, gave the new engine a 0.19 ins. (5 mm) longer stroke and a bore diameter that is .08 ins. (2 mm) smaller. The compression ratio was raised as well
A bump in horsepower comes from the turbocharger’s turbine wheel being increased by 6 percent, and the compressor wheel diameter is 10 percent bigger. As a result, boost pressure goes up by 20 percent. A water-to-air intercooler integrated into the intake plenum is new, saving space under the hood. It decreases the volume of compressed air between the turbo and intake valve, giving quicker response and maintaining more even temperatures in the incoming air.
The result is the new engine being rated at 320 horsepower with torque a plateau that comes in low, at 332 lb-ft barely off idle at 1380 rpm, and goes all the way to 5000 rpm.
The 20 horsepower jump from its predecessor is worthwhile, but the spread of torque is more important from just driving around town or on the road or track, where there’s always twist for acceleration regardless of rpm.
The 2016 BMW 340i also gets an eight-speed Steptronic automatic transmission as standard equipment. A six-speed manual (the Save the Manual Club members say huzzah) is a no-cost option (and when’s the last time you heard “no-cost option” in a sentence also including “BMW”?). The manual transmission has a dual-mass flywheel with centrifugal pendulum absorbers. BMW says this technology “counteracts uneven running on high-torque engines so that the driver can change gears smoothly>”
We can’t say. Our test 340i had the Steptronic gearbox, and in addition to the BMW-specific shift lever that returns to center rather than the conventional PRNDL, the transmission has the expected paddle shifters. Some vehicles, even those with sporting pretentions, have paddle shifters that you’re not inclined to use, there mostly for looks. Not the 2016 BMW 340i. Our personal default was manual mode, using the paddles for driving much as we would with a manual transmission. Beyond the personal involvement, there’s a bark from the exhaust even on upshifts. Gotta love that.
One warning. It encourages going faster.
And there’s little reason to slow, at least from the chassis, if not Officer Friendly. BMW claims “a more finely honed steering set-up.” Mark this down: In some future barroom bet, someone will ask when the 3-Series went from three-bolt upper anchors points to five. Remember this review and you’ll win with “2016.” BMW also changed the front suspension geometry, redesigned electric power steering, updated the technology in the rear suspension, and revised the Dynamic Stability Control, which aids overall handling by feeding in assistance well before stability control kicks in, particularly true with the all-wheel drive, which shifts engine torque fore and aft depending on what the vehicle is asking for at the moment to reduce understeer and oversteer.
The 2016 model year counts as a mid- model run facelift for the BMW 3-Series but BMW has kept changes in appearance to the minimum, with a recontoured rear bumper and broader side air intakes in the front apron calibrated to give the 3-Series a wider look. Full LED headlights are optional (but were not on our test vehicle) and LED lamps are standard for tail lamps and brake lights. Your Buick-driving neighbor might not notice the difference but they will at Bimmer club meetings.
Changes are minimal on the inside, BMW feeling compelled to point out that there’s now a closeable cover on the cupholders. Overall the interior of the BMW 3-Series is plain to a fault. But it’s traditional BMW. Would the faithful accept organic shapes? The only curve is the hood over the white-on-black instruments. The “ash grain wood inlays” are a nice touch, while new for 2016 lots and lots of little stuff getting chromed.
We’ll point out that the 3-Series is following the current trend of setting a tablet-style multi-instrument display on top of the dash…which simplifies reconfiguring the dash differently for different markets.
We’re not going to go into detail, however, about the current iteration of iDrive system for navigating the infotainment elements other than to say that while it’s logical as only a German engineer can be logical, the decision tree layout requires attention to use, the icons are small, and it’s all done remotely via a knob on the center console. We didn’t even try to set favorite stations on the radio, picking our favorite and keep it there for the week.
No doubt we’d get better at iDrive with more time in the car, but the deal of the 2016 BMW 340i is driving it. The engine is slick, and thanks to the torque delivery, acceleration is quick. BMW says the 340i xDrive can go from zero to 60 mph in just 4.8 seconds and we won’t doubt it. The suspension is supple, too, as well as grippy. The BMW 340i hangs on to rough and bumpy pavement like the road owes it money.
The 2016 BMW 34oi xDrive is not only quicker than it feels, it’s actually quick, as a midsize sport sedan with a $59,920 bottom line should be. So forewarned is forearmed, so as Sergeant Esterhaus said on Hill Street Blues, be careful out there.
2016 BMW 340i xDrive, price and key specifications as tested
Body style/layout: 4-door sedan, front engine/all-wheel drive
Base price: $47,800
Price as tested: $59,920
- Type: 3.0-liter 24-valve DOHC turbocharged I-4
- Displacement, cc: 2998
- Block/head material: aluminum/aluminum
- Compression ratio: 11.0:1
- Horsepower: 320 @ 5500-6500 rpm
- Torque: 332 @ 1380-5000 rpm
- Recommended fuel: premium unleaded
- Fuel economy, EPA est.: 22/33 mpg city/highway
- Fuel economy, observed: 25.0 mpg
Transmission: 8-speed automatic driver-adaptive
- Suspension, front/rear: 2-link drive suspension strut / 5-link
- Wheels:18 x 8.0-inch alloy
- Tires: 225/45R18
- Brakes: 4-wheel disc; 13.4-inch dia. front/13.0-inch dia. rear
- Steering: electric power rack-and-pinion
- Turning circle: 38.4 ft.
- Wheelbase: 110.6 in.
- Length: 182.8 in.
- Height: 56.5 in.
- Width: 71.3 in.
- Curb weight: 3,820 lbs
- Trunk volume: 17.0 cu. ft.
- Fuel tank: 15.8 gal.
- Airbags: Front, driver and passenger knee, front side, side curtain
- Anti-lock brakes: Yes Traction control: Yes Stability control: Yes Electronic brake-force distribution: Yes Brake assist: Yes
- Other: adaptive brake lights, post-collision response system (battery terminal disconnect of alternator, fuel pump and starter from battery; and turns on hazard lights, interior lights and unlocks doors), BMW Assist eCall
Warranty: 4-year/50,000 mile bumper-to-bumper; 4-year/50,000 mile powertrain; 12-year/unlimited-mile corrosion; 4-year/unlimited-mile roadside assistance