Forbes India 15th Anniversary Special

BMW M340i: The juggler

A regular 3 Series just not doing it for you? BMW might have just the thing for you that's hard to resist

Raunak Ajinkya
Published: Sep 25, 2021 09:00:00 AM IST
Updated: Oct 19, 2021 12:47:54 PM IST

The BMW M340i is, visually, as distinct as a regular 3 Series.

The task of a juggler is daunting. Not only is there the need to toss and catch multiple objects in the air, thereby creating a Ferris wheel of flying paraphernalia, but there’s also the precise leg movements to coordinate, and the eye kept on the audience to gauge interest and reaction. All this, while wearing make-up and costume that isn’t always the most flattering. After a weekend out with the BMW M340i, this was all that I could think of. 

Let’s start with a simple question: Who is the BMW M340i meant for? It’s for you, your wallet, your family, and the child in you. BMW realised that there are people who crave the maniacal frenzy of the all-out, rip-roaring, over-the-top M3, but don’t have the lifestyle or the money to pull it off. To mitigate the feeling of ‘The 320d is good, but it doesn’t get me going’, BMW had a brainwave.
The heart of that brainwave was sticking a six-cylinder engine into the 3 Series. The M3 and M4 have one, but the regular 3 Series doesn’t, and it was sorely missed. So what the 3-litre turbocharged straight-six engine puts out is 387 hp and 500 Nm—figures that are bound to put a smile on anyone’s face. Mine was plastered on with the same intensity of a tongue stuck to a frozen pole.

The M340i's cabin is minimalistic and thoroughly modern. Spot the M340i badging

BMW claims a 0-100 kmph time of 4.4 seconds. But unlike the M3, you don’t walk away from it desperate for a visit to the chiropractor. It’s comfortable, the M340i. You could fit four people in, and no one would complain that the seats are too rigid, or that the legroom is inadequate. And you could easily pop a few suitcases in the back, in case you’re planning to make it a long weekend out.
And if you do, you’ll notice that it’s armed with luxury bits that are slowly becoming necessities. The cruise control, for instance, is a kit that I’m coming to realise is indispensable in modern, luxurious cars. With highways that are only going to get better, having a car that can accelerate and decelerate on its own to maintain a certain speed set by you is a blessing. And are you rubbish at parking? BMW’s parking assistant will spot space either parallel or perpendicular to the road and manoeuvre the car into a desired spot for you. 

A proper 'sleeper'. Subtle tweaks only way to differentiate from regular 3 Series

A 10.25-inch touchscreen in the middle of the dashboard houses most of what you’d require to toggle within the car: Media, navigation, driving modes, and rear-facing camera displays. You could also just blurt out, “Hey, BMW, I’m cold,” and the heat will automatically be turned up. My favourite bit? The head-up display, which casts a minimalist version of the instrument cluster on the windscreen so that you don’t have to take your eyes off the road. 
Perhaps the only thing that I am not fully sold on is BMW’s gesture control. It’s meant to help drivers focus on the road by allowing them to accomplish tasks like adjusting sound volume or fast-forwarding tracks with hand gestures. It works, but not as fluidly as expected. 
Now for what the M340i feels like behind the wheel. The first thing I attempted was a full-bore acceleration test to get a feel of the engine. It’s not about the sheer velocity it gains in a short span of time, but more about the interaction between the steering, your right foot and your mind that’s grappling to keep up. The weighty steering tells you exactly what the front wheels are up to, the brakes add a deft touch of control to any accidental lead-footed behaviour, and the 8-speed ZF auto box gives you just what you need, exactly when you need it.
The 18-inch wheels, LED headlamps and kidney grille make for a very imposing front

Driving it fast can be rewarding, but the M340i’s equally at peace just ambling to shops for groceries. Potholes along the way? The 18-inch wheels are more than up to the task of giving you a cushioned response to craters on the road.
The M340i manages the tasks of being comfortable, practical, luxurious and brutally quick, all at the same time. It’ll keep you, your wallet, your family, and the child in you at peace. Its ability to juggle so many aspects is the result of BMW honing its art for years, marking down flaws and focusing on the need of the hour. The perfect middle-ground that has the 3 Series on one side and the ludicrous M3 on the other? The M340i nails it.

BMW M340i Specifications
Power: 387 hp
Torque: 500 Nm
Transmission: 7-speed, dual-clutch automatic
LxWxH (in mm): 4824 x 1811 x 1429
Rs 74.41 lakh (on-road, Mumbai)