Is the BMW M340i all the M3 you’d ever need? Felix Page says so
“I can’t remember the last time a 3 Series lost a group test,” spat one of my colleagues disdainfully. “How can it possibly be underrated?”
“Or a really overlooked gem like the Mercedes S-Class.”
They had a point, of sorts. We rated the G20-generation BMW 3 Series at five stars when it was launched in 2019 and it emerged from a hefty update for 2023 “as ruthlessly brilliant as ever”.
But I thought the M340i, specifically, deserved a few more column inches.
I spent a fair bit of time in the M3 Touring this year and was left slightly cold: its ride is too harsh to let rip on crumbling country lanes, its wheels are too big to parallel park with abandon in town and its styling is too brash to fade into the background on long jaunts.
Plus, its outrageous firepower means you could find yourself on the wrong side of the law in mere seconds from standstill.
The M340i, I reckon, is all the M3 you need in the real world. It has an intoxicating exhaust note, handles with aplomb, rides beautifully on and off the motorway and – with 369bhp from its blown straight six – goes like spit off a spade. It’s 75% an M3, and I’d wager you’d have to push pretty damned hard to reach the point where the 150bhp deficit and softer-sprung chassis become obvious.
The ultimate Q car? I think so: just as fun, far less fuss – and a chunky saving to boot.