BMW 340i

Nam Wheels - - Front Page - Text Hanjo Stier Im­ages Var­i­ous sources

Over the years I’ve made a few con­clu­sions about cars and I’m more than happy to share one of them with you now.

If you’re af­ter a fast, ex­cit­ing car, run your fin­ger to the most pow­er­ful end of a show­room price list and slide it down one notch. That’s right, don’t buy a BMWM3. Buy a 340i.

The same is true for big Jags, diesel Volvos, some dou­ble­cabs and AMG Mercs. Even the hum­ble Volk­swa­gen Golf proves my point as the Golf R is ex­pen­sive, hard and – dare I type it – too fast.

The lesser GTI is far more bal­anced and feels like one of those per­for­mance cars which have just the right amount of power.

To get back to the 340i that was de­liv­ered to us re­cently, it fol­lows this ex­am­ple by lend­ing its amaz­ing en­gine to the top model.

(Ed: Also note that it used to be called 335i)

The 3L turbo-petrol straight six en­gine not only drowns in in­ter­na­tional awards, it also took res­i­dence un­der the new M3 sedan’s bon­net; al­beit in highly mod­i­fied form.

This au­thor be­moans the loss of nat­u­rally-breath­ing coun­ter­parts ( think 330i) but mere min­utes be­hind the helm of this ver­sion will def­i­nitely crush with­drawal symp­toms.

My notes speak of fan­tas­tic power and lin­ear de­liv­ery, a fizzy six-cylin­der noise with that trade­mark BMW hum, neg­li­gi­ble turbo hes­i­ta­tion and amaz­ing torque with two ex­cla­ma­tion marks.

Up to 240kw or 450Nm are avail­able through a high­lyre­spon­sive eight- shooter au­to­matic sports gear­box with shift pad­dles and drive se­lec­tion.

Last-named ranges from a lethar­gic fuel saver “ECO Pro” over the well-bal­anced Com­fort mode to an edgy Sport and very rapid Sport Plus set­tings; the last one of­fers re­duced ESP, rude gear shifts and even more rude ex­haust noises.

In case you still don’t be­lieve me that this is a good M3 sub­sti­tute, we took this car to quiet stretch of tar­mac, fired up our GPS test­ing equip­ment and en­gaged the launch con­trol func­tion. The re­sult? This 340i re­peat­edly man­aged 0-100km/h in 4.9 sec­onds and 400 me­tres in 13-odd sec­onds.

That is faster than some older M3’s and AMG’S, also giv­ing hot hatches and other fast sedans some­thing to think about at the lights.

Not that many pun­ters will be stupid enough to take you on, es­pe­cially if your 340i is fit­ted with the M Pack; as our test car was.

The big rims and bumpers, wide tyres and twin ex­haust pipes not only give your game away but also equip the car with a rather firm ride which, in fair­ness, is prob­a­bly nec­es­sary in a fast car like this.

Hap­pily, this BMW’S di­rect steer­ing and brakes are also up to the task of stop­ping the ef­forts of oc­ca­sional per­for­mance driv­ing.

BMW claims aver­age fuel use of 6.5L/100km and we got an ad­mirable 10,5 when driv­ing like a grown-up.

Not only is that fig­ure quite amaz­ing ( con­sid­er­ing the 340i’s fire power), it’s also highly vari­able in either di­rec­tion.

The 340i’s base price of N$739,000 in­cludes many safety and com­fort fea­tures but you would do well to con­sult your near­est dealer for de­tailed specs and a l ec­ture about the many high-tech op­tions which are avail­able.

Our press car car­ried the sporty M Pack (N$25,000), Adap­tive LED head­lights (N$19,400) and a heads-up dis­play (N$15,400) - among quite a few others.

A re­cent “facelift” of the F30 3-Se­ries range brings the car up to date with avail­able tech­nol­ogy and, as we have men­tioned be­fore, it re­tains the edgy good looks of these ve­hi­cles.

Pas­sen­ger com­fort is su­perb with plenty of lux­u­ries and ex­cel­lent cli­mate con­trol but rear space can get cramped for tall adults.

The boot takes up to 480L of cargo and ev­ery 340i buyer also re­ceives a five year or 100,000km mo­tor­plan.

Most im­por­tantly though, the 340i makes a strong case for it­self if you can’t af­ford an M3 or its su­pe­rior power makes you ner­vous.

Yes, the proper M ver­sion is faster and more ex­cit­ing but it also re­quires N$357,000 ex­tra from your wal­let.

That’s plenty of con­so­la­tion for buy­ing the model that’s more sen­si­ble, com­fort­able and eco­nom­i­cal.

It’s my plea­sure.

Look­ing for a high-per­for­mance com­pact sedan? We rec­om­mend the BMW 340i.

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