2016 BMW 340i : Review
The BMW 3 Series is often considered the defining benchmark for luxury sedans in the compact market. Although it’s one of the few to not have received major upgrades in the past couple of years. The top of the 3 Series lineup is the 340i, with its six-cylinder powerhouse and sport-centric build. The 2016 BMW 340i replaces the 335i of last year, bringing a beefier engine and even better drive dynamics.
The new engine improves performance and for enthusiasts, the manual transmission option remains for both the rear-wheel and all-wheel drive platforms in the 2016 340i. The rest of the changes found on the new BMW 3 Series are either so minor they’re hardly noticeable or are meant to bring the car up to par with the segment’s current expectation.
All of this adds up to a well-made, finely-tuned vehicle that showcases the Ultimate Driving Machine persona. The 2016 BMW 340i is a great choice in the compact luxury arena.
Like most BMW sedans, the 2016 340i begins with a relatively simple saloon shape, adds a coupe’d rear design, and uses unadorned straight lines to accentuate the car’s natural shape, which denotes forward movement. The exterior of the BMW 340i is what most would consider classic Teutonic appeal in automotive form.
The front grille sees a couple of minor changes for 2016, with the kidney grille being a little smaller and the headlights being a little sharper in shape. The lower fascia is a bit more sporty with sharper edges to its bevels. The hood flows up from the round Bimmer mark with dual lines creasing it in a V to make both forward movement and accent the front fenders, which are largely unadorned.
Along the sides, a straight line softly begins at the front fender and moves back, getting stronger as it passes through the door handles to create the belt, finishing at the rear tail-lamp. The blurriness of the line’s origins help with the forward movement motif. Underneath, a light running board line creases the doors. Judicious use of chrome accents finish the greenhouse surrounds to add bling and match the beautiful wheel options on this year’s BMW 340i.
At the rear, light tapering keeps the movement feel going. It’s a strong look that marks BMW as one of the finest in automotive design houses. Several package options can upgrade or change the exterior look slightly with bigger wheels, a few added details like splash guards, and so forth.
Some might consider the interior experience to be the 2016 BMW 340i’s weakest point, given that it often includes some throwbacks to classic BMW appeal melded with modern technology. The instrument cluster, for example, is all analog in appearance, with round, physical gauges and needles below which a small LCD screen gives pertinent vehicle information in its readout. Most in the luxury segments are moving towards digital gauges and adjustable readouts with more personalized appeal. The throwback here, though, helps bring some nostalgia as well as driver-focused appeal to the BMW.
The interior of the 340i is very well done, all told. All materials are of high quality and placement is well-considered. The dash has a flowing, half-moon feel thanks to the broad, crescent cutout created to house the stand-up infotainment screen at center. This is mirrored by the gauge surround and hinted to by the inner edge swoops which connect the dash to the center console. Other curves are found throughout the cabin to keep this feel going.
Seating is comfortable, yet firm, with plenty of bolster support. The back seats are cramped, but not terribly so for the class, and headroom is very good in this compact car. Trunk space stands at about 13 cubic feet, which is better than most and will accommodate a golf bag or similar-sized item readily.
Centered on the console is that infotainment screen, which is a 6.5-inch iDrive widescreen by default and a beautiful 8.8-inch by upgrade. This is controlled through the iDrive knob located just below and to the right of the shift handle. In the upgraded version, the iDrive knob has a touchpad top that allows the user to input things like addresses or phone numbers to simplify the search process in various apps. This is a big improvement for the BMW infotainment interface, which is well thought out, but still a bit clunky at times.
As with all BMW cars, everything in the 2016 340i is aimed towards the driver with a steep cant that centralizes control. This makes everything readily visible and quickly accessible and is one of the hallmarks of BMW interior design.
Several four-cylinder gasoline and diesel options are available in the 3 Series lineup. For the 2016 BMW 340i, though, the engine is a nicely-tuned straight six. This is a turbocharged 3.0-liter that rates 320 horsepower and 330 pound-feet of torque, up by about 20 and 30 points from last year, respectively. This drives the rear or all four wheels, depending on powertrain choice, through a six-speed manual transmission or eight-speed automatic transmission with paddle shifting. Gunaxin drove the latter in xDrive (AWD) and thoroughly enjoyed the fast shifting and smooth feel the transmission offers.
With this engine and transmission, we were able to hit 5-second 0-60 mph times readily while on public roads, running from a flat-footed standstill. Fuel economy returns are good, but not stellar for the class, with 26 mpg combined being the EPA rating for the all-wheel drive model equipped with the auto trans. The manual drops to 24 mpg and 23 mpg combined in RWD and AWD. In over 200 miles of real-world driving in the 2016 BMW 340i xDrive with the automatic, we averaged 27 mpg all told in a highway-centric week.
That week of driving was a beautiful showcase of the excellence that BMW chassis development can offer. The 340i is smooth on the highway, quiet on the freeway, absorbs jolts around town readily, and imparts a feeling of confidence at all times. In sport driving, the BMW 340i corners sharply and hugs the road closely when pressed. It’s a thoroughly enjoyable car to pilot.
In a realm of excellent offerings, the compact luxury sedan class is still benchmarked by the BMW 340i. This car offers a complete package of refinement, luxury, and sport driving enthusiasm without compromise. The 2016 BMW 340i is an excellent choice in luxury driving.