Saturday Road Test – BMW340i xDrive

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                        BMW 340i xDrive

               An x-cellent driving experience

By Ron Amadon

DAMASCUS, MD. – Let’s start with one of the best engines on the market today.  

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 It is a smooth, refined power plant, to wit, “turbocharged and intercooled DOCH 24-valve inline-6, aluminum block and head, direct fuel injection” or “3.0-liter BMW TwinPower turbo inline 6-cylinder, 24 valve engine with variable valve control, (Double VANOS and Valvetronic) and high precision dual injection,” or BMW talk for those of a more technical persuasion.

 The VANOS and its neighbors worked extraordinary well to produce 320 horsepower @ 6,500 rpm with 330 lb-ft of torque at 1,380 rpm. In the test car, it was coupled with an 8-speed automatic with paddle shifts, but do it yourself types can opt for a 6-speed manual. This is a new power plant for the 3-series with 20 more horsepower than the previous engine with 30 more lb-ft of torque.

 The automatic was quick to downshift on its own, much like the kid in the back row eager to show the teacher that he (or she) knows the answer. It was a pure delight and if your commute involves bumper to bumper traffic, (you mean yours doesn’t?) I would opt for the automatic. 0-60 will constantly pop up in under five seconds, with a top speed of 155, perfectly geared for the autobahn.  

 Lucky operators can choose from four driving modes, ECO PRO, Comfort, Sport or Sport Plus. I would argue that one does not buy this kind of car to try out the ECO setting and would head directly for Sport. The first thing you will notice is less body roll in corners compared to comfort.

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 The “Saddle Brown Dakota” leather Sport Seats did a good job of cradling my bod on long trips and holding me in place when the driving became more athletic. They are heated, of course, and 10-way adjustable with a choice of four lumbar settings.

 Not only was there the xDrive all-wheel drive system, but the retuned steering, struts and rear dampers handled winter time unrepaired pot holes well in both comfort and Sport modes. In short, the engine, suspension and seats “do it all” for the motoring enthusiast and prove what I have felt for some time, that BMW has some genius technicians that really know how to match a comfortable ride with a sporty one better than almost anyone in the biz.

 In addition to the new engine, there are minor changes for 2016 throughout the 340i such as a new center console, and if you are really sharp, you will see some styling tweaks front and rear. The most obvious change is the new model badge out back – up to 340i from 335i.

 Three cheers for an easy to read instrument cluster, high lux interior and, of course, superb fit and finish.   

 In this land of speed cameras, I appreciated the head up display.

 Not only can two adults find ample comfort up front but two more can be very happy sitting out back. There is ample trunk space for this size car.

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 So BMW has produced a car that will more than meet the demands of its fans who fretted that it drifted too far over to the dark (soft) side. The 340i xDrive sedan will restore their faith that the wizards in Munich, Germany can still produce the “Ultimate Driving Machine.”   

 The test car was well optioned to the tune of $11,125 in extras with lots of safety equipment, to bring the MSRP to $59,920. Not excessive in its class for a wonderful, fun to drive, yet luxurious set of wheels.

 What I would give to take the Mineral White Metallic sedan out on the Nuremburg to Berlin autobahn.  

 AuBergewohnlich!!!! (Extraordinary.)

 

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