By on March 30, 2016

2016 BMW 340i Exterior Front 3/4, Image: © 2016 Alex L. Dykes/The Truth About Cars

2016 BMW 340i

3.0-liter DOHC I6, turbocharged (320 horsepower @ 5,500-6,500 rpm; 330 pounds-feet @ 1,300-5,000)

Six-speed manual transmission

20 city / 30 highway / 23 combined (EPA Rating, MPG)

24.5 (Observed, MPG)

Base Price: $46,785

As Tested: $58,345

All prices include $995 destination charge.

The BMW 3 Series has been the benchmark to which all manner of vehicles are measured. The comparisons go beyond the likes of the Audi A4, Mercedes-Benz C-Class and Volvo S60, and include BMW M3 vs Chevy Camaro and BMW 328d vs Toyota Prius. It seems that every car company in America makes at least one “3-Series fighter.” But there’s a problem with your largest volume product being put on this kind of pedestal: die-hard fans hate change.

Enthusiasts claim that BMW ruined the 3 Series when they redesigned it in 2012. The “F30” sedan got bigger, fatter, softer, and more gadget-filled than ever before. BMW fanbois cried in their gemüsesuppe, Road & Track called it an “also ran” and … BMW laughed all the way to the bank.

For 2016 the 3-Series gets a facelift, new engines and a redesigned suspension. What isn’t changed, however, is BMW’s new direction. And that’s a good thing in my book.

Exterior

The 3 Series has grown so much over the years that it is just one inch shy of a 1998 5 Series. American and Chinese shoppers who love big cars are driving this growth trend. You can even get a stretched 3 Series in China. And the latest 3 Series does nothing to curb that growth.

Instead, BMW stuck to its usual process of refining its design instead of replacing it. The tweaked front bumper is so subtle that I had to refer to BMW’s PR website to confirm the bumper is actually new. The headlamps, however, are a welcome change with the 340i now getting BMW’s excellent full-LED modules. Out back, some new taillamps and gentle bumper tweaks join the party. This means the 3 Series is still the simple-yet-elegant entry in its segment. It’s not as visually exciting as a Cadillac ATS, nor as jarring as the Lexus IS350 F-Sport, but it’s likely to age better than an Acura TLX or Infiniti Q50.

2016 BMW 340i Interior Front Cabin, Image: © 2016 Alex L. Dykes/The Truth About Cars

Interior

Changes to the interior are just as subtle. The cup holders gain a hinged lid instead of the silly tray they had before. BMW also added more ambient lighting, some extra chrome strips and a refreshed color palette.

As before, all models except for the M3 start with “leatherette” and you have to pony up $1,450 if you want the real cow. On the flip side, BMW continues to offer some of the most comfortable and adjustable seats in the segment.340i models start with BMW’s 10-way power front “sport” seats with inflatable side bolsters, four-way lumbar support and extending thigh cushion. You can option-out the sport seats at no cost if they are too bolstered for your tastes.

2016 BMW 340i Interior Rear Seats, Image: © 2016 Alex L. Dykes/The Truth About Cars

Although others in this segment post greater rear-seat legroom on paper, there is more usable space in the 3 Series than just about every competitor — except for the Q50 — because of the overall shape of the interior. BMW also gives you 13 cubic feet of trunk space, which is above average for the segment.

I’m surprised that BMW didn’t take the opportunity to swap out more of the interior panels for fresher parts, especially the questionable plastic below the climate control unit. This interior is still more luxurious and more cohesive in style than the Lexus IS or Infiniti Q50, but the new Audi A4 and Mercedes-Benz C-Class have moved the bar further than expected. Hopefully BMW takes note.

2016 BMW 340i Interior Front Cabin, Image: © 2016 Alex L. Dykes/The Truth About Cars

Infotainment

While some companies are jamming multiple enormous screens in the dash in their base models, BMW continues to charge gadget lovers extra. Even the 340i starts with BMW’s basic 6.5-inch iDrive system that offers basic USB and Bluetooth integration. If you want the snazzy 8.8-inch LCD seen in our model, you either need to get the $2,750 technology package — which also bundles the heads up display and BMW smartphone apps — or you can select the $1,950 stand alone navigation option. The enhanced USB and app integration is also available separately for $350. The current app suite allows you to Facebook, tweet and stream internet radio from your iPhone to the car’s radio.

iDrive wins the award for the most expensive infotainment system in this small segment yet again, but the latest iDrive software is also the most feature rich. The system’s tasteful high-res graphics, fast interface and superior phone integration, intuitive touch controller with finger-writing input and voice recognition software are all more polished than Audi’s MMI or even the latest Mercedes COMAND system — if you can afford it.

2016 BMW 340i Engine, Image: © 2016 Alex L. Dykes/The Truth About Cars

Drivetrain

BMW is in the middle of a brand-wide drivetrain overhaul and it’s taking a while for this to filter down to America. In the EU, BMW has replaced the four-cylinder N20 engined with a new modular design (B48) shared with Mini. Still, the 320i and 328i’s engines remain unchanged in America.

Never mind that for now. We’re here to talk about the new 340i that replaced the outgoing 335i.

The new B58 engine is a member of BMW’s new modular engine family based around half-liter cylinders, which ranges from the 1.5-liter three-cylinder turbo found in the MINI Cooper and BMW i8 to the new 2.0-liter four-cylinder turbos in the new European versions of the 320i and 330i. For the moment, however, the new 3.0-liter inline-six is the only member of the family found in a BMW in the U.S.

Like the outgoing engine, the new six uses a single turbocharger with a twin-scroll turbine. The new engine’s turbo is slightly larger and BMW has moved to a water-to-air intercooler to reduce the length of plumbing and decrease turbo lag. Power figures take a bump to a rated 320 horsepower and 330pounds-feet of twist. A ZF eight-speed automatic transmission powers the rear wheels in the 340i and all four wheels in the 340i xDrive. If you’d rather row your own, you can select a six-speed manual as a no-cost option.

2016 BMW 340i Exterior Rear 3/4, Image: © 2016 Alex L. Dykes/The Truth About Cars

Drive

The 2016 refresh (or Life Cycle Impulse as BMW inexplicably calls it) sticks a fork in any hope that BMW plans to return the 3 Series to the way theE90 felt out on the road, even though a new suspension rides under the familiar sheetmetal. That’s not a bad thing in my book. (Yes, I’m ready for the pitchfork wielding villagers to run me out-of-town.)

Acceleration is blistering if you equip the 340i with the automatic transmission, running from 0-60 mph in 4.8 seconds in a dealer provided model. Opting for the manual transmission may make you feel more connected to the car, but it’ll add over half a second to your 0-60 time unless you’re a professional driver. That puts the 340i ahead of the Audi S4 or Mercedes-Benz C450 AMG, and just a hair behind the new Infiniti Q50 Red Sport 400 depending on what tires each vehicle has and if they’re equipped with all-wheel drive.

2016 BMW 340i Exterior Front Wheel, Image: © 2016 Alex L. Dykes/The Truth About Cars

Our tester had the optional track handling package with upgraded tires, brakes and the M-Sport adaptive suspension. This package allowed the 3,665-pound sedan to brake to a stop from 60 mph in an impressive 110 feet with little fade. The updated suspension dramatically reduces the body roll found in the 2015 model and firms up the ride in the process.

Even with the new suspension and steering, the 2016 BMW 340i continues to show the automaker’s softer side. The 340i may accelerate like a 2006 M3 and brake like an ultra-light MX-5, but it rides more like a Mercedes-Benz than any BMW from the last decade. Steering is precise with perfect weight, but there’s precious little feedback from the tires. Despite hopes that the new suspension tune would unseat the Cadillac ATS or Lexus IS in terms of dynamics, the 340i is still a fast and comfortable daily driver.

2016 BMW 340i Exterior Front, Image: © 2016 Alex L. Dykes/The Truth About Cars

When it comes to competition, things get tricky. The 340i isn’t the most direct IS 350 or ATS 3.6 competitor because the 328i is just about as fast as its naturally aspirated V6 competition. Instead, the 340i is in the next tier up where you’ll find the new Audi S4, Mercedes-Benz C450 AMG and Infiniti Q50 Red Sport — but below the Cadillac ATS-V, Mercedes-AMG C63 and BMW M3.

That said, BMW positions the 340i a little differently. Starting at $46,795, the BMW undercuts the Audi by $3,000 and the Mercedes by $4,000. The big reason isn’t overt value; it’s that jumping from the 328i to the 340i changes little other than the engine. That’s not the case for the Audi or Mercedes that get standard braking, suspension and trim upgrades. The S4 and C450 are therefore thematically more similar to the 340i optioned with either the M-Sport or Track Handling packages.

BMW also plays a different game when it comes to performance. Although you can get a six-speed manual in the S4 and the steering is more engaging than with the 340i, there is no rear-wheel-drive version. Also, the weight distribution of the S4 poses a challenge when it comes to handling, and that makes the 340i feel nimble in comparison. Meanwhile, the Mercedes has a nicer cabin, but the in-house designed seven-speed automatic isn’t a team player, and car’s the isolated nature is at odds with its performance mission. The BMW is simply smoother and more at ease than either competitor. Pitted against its peers, the 340i is like the smug kid in gym class that doesn’t break a sweat while the others bust their rears.

2016 BMW 340i Exterior Rear 3/4, Image: © 2016 Alex L. Dykes/The Truth About Cars

After a week with the 340i, I started drawing parallels to the Honda Accord in my head. (You may see this as positive or negative depending on your inclination.) The 340i doesn’t score top marks in any one area for me. The Q50 Red Sport is faster, the ATS handles better, the IS has better steering feel, the Q50 has more rear legroom, the C450 has a nicer interior, and the upcoming XE is likely to be a screaming deal. It’s actually easy to be the best in one metric like acceleration. What’s harder is building a sedan that scores second in nearly every category. Like the Accord, that’s exactly what the 340i does. BMW has wisely turned the 3 Series from a savant into a polymath.

I like the 3 Series for all the “wrong” reasons according to a buddy of mine who will let his E46 go over his cold dead body. I like the well-damped highway ride. I like the quiet cabin. iDrive is my favorite luxury infotainment system. I like the big back seat and the enormous trunk. I also like the prodigious, straight-line power, and I appreciate the chassis tuning that gives the handling crown to Cadillac in exchange for a daily-driver-friendly highway ride. That’s blasphemy to many of the BMW faithful, but it’s also true. That said, if my money were on the line, I’d take the less polished Infiniti Q50 Red Sport. Why? Because it is not as polished as the BMW. Go figure.

[Images: © 2016 Alex L. Dykes/The Truth About Cars]

BMW provided the vehicle, insurance and one tank of gas for this review.

Specifications as tested:

0-30: 2.4 seconds (manual)

0-60: 5.5 seconds (manual)

1/4 mile: 13.7 seconds @ 106 mph

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103 Comments on “2016 BMW 340i Review – The Lightest of Refreshes...”


  • avatar
    319583076

    The Audi, Lexus, and Cadillac entrants are non-starters for me, leaving a choice between the 340i and the C450 AMG.

    I’d pick the Benz every day of the week.

    There are E-Class options available at these prices, too…

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      I second that. The interior in the C-class alone sells me.

    • 0 avatar
      CoreyDL

      I’d have an E. BMW always does this, their pricing is so a la carte that you add the M-Sport X-Track I-Tech Plus+2, and you’re into E-Class territory.

    • 0 avatar
      TMA1

      Infiniti suffers the usual problem… being completely forgotten.

    • 0 avatar
      DeadWeight

      Even without a major refresh, this car looks, drives & feels like 3x the money that a plastic injection molded Cadillac ATS or CTS does, and I’m saying that even while acknowledging BMW is much softer, larger & heavier than it used to be.

      But this is more plush, solid and comfortable, while still offering a decent driving experience, as ANY Cadillac, and GM doesn’t have a 6 cylinder motor that can even remotely match BMW’s silky inline 6.

      This is more Cadillac than Cadillac, and that’s whack, Jack.

      • 0 avatar

        Having both an M54 and a LLT in the driveway, I agree the BMW I-6 is smoother, but the LLT is hardly a tractor motor. It loves to eat on ramps and is silk at 80 mph.

        Having driven a Q50 for a bit as well this year, no V6 is going to equal I6-there is always that slight “stoplight shake”.

        My 73 Nova had a straight six. Even that primitive lump was super smooth. It’s the best possible design, except that it doesn’t lend itself to cars which power the wrong set of wheels, so other than BMW, which can’t stop making them, no one else does.

        Selling me a $50k car with a four cylinder turbo, though that is where I draw a line with BMW. It’s a nice four, but not at that price.

        • 0 avatar
          tjh8402

          @Speedlaw – I’m with you on the I-4 turbo being out of place in a $40-50k car. However, I personally find it and less than premium fittings acceptable on a $25-30k car. As I said earlier, that’s why my pick in this segment is a lightly used ATS 2.0T with the six speed. They are readily available with under 30k miles for less than $30k. F30s are as well for those that want more space and luxury as discussed below, but the Cadillac is definitely the enthusiast’s choice, and I think a relative bargain at that price.

          Side note on this: I’m surprised that Cadillac’s residuals are about the same as BMW’s. I was expecting the ATS depreciation to be worse but a search for certified stick shift ATS’s and 3 series with less than 30k miles is showing them all in the same $20-30k range.

          • 0 avatar

            I’m seeing non certified rwd/manual ATS with the 2.0 in my area at the 18-22k with between 30 and 50k miles…

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            @speedlaw

            The market is not fooled.

            MY15 Cadillac ATS RWD Sedan “Luxury” I4

            03/22/16 STATESVL $25,500 6,844 Above MAROON 4G A Yes
            03/15/16 ST LOUIS Regular $23,600 7,659 Avg PURPLE 4G A Yes
            03/15/16 TX HOBBY $23,600 9,201 Avg BLACK 4G A Yes
            03/08/16 STATESVL $25,600 9,362 Above WHITE 4G A Yes
            03/15/16 PORTLAND $23,800 10,443 Avg BLACK 4G A Yes
            03/22/16 STATESVL $24,300 10,757 Avg DK GRY 4G O Yes
            03/17/16 DENVER $23,700 11,404 Avg GREY 4G A Yes
            03/07/16 ORLANDO $24,600 11,687 Avg BLACK 4G A Yes
            03/02/16 GEORGIA $24,300 11,873 Avg SILVER 4G O Yes
            03/29/16 TX HOBBY $23,500 12,190 Avg SILVER 4G A Yes
            03/09/16 SEATTLE Regular $25,100 12,266 Above BLACK 4GT A Yes
            03/15/16 TX HOBBY $25,600 12,295 Above BLACK 4G A Yes
            03/17/16 ARENA IL $23,700 12,551 Avg RED 4G A Yes
            03/07/16 ORLANDO $25,400 12,861 Above RED 4G A Yes
            03/08/16 DALLAS Regular $26,300 12,907 Above WHITE 4G A No
            03/17/16 ARENA IL $23,600 13,220 Avg GRAY 4G A Yes
            03/23/16 CEN FLA Regular $25,000 13,617 Above GREY 4G A Yes
            03/29/16 PORTLAND $25,200 14,934 Above WHITE 4G A Yes
            03/16/16 GEORGIA $24,600 15,847 Avg WHITE 4G A Yes
            03/24/16 NASHVILL $22,800 16,773 Avg SILVER 4G A Yes
            03/17/16 ARENA IL $22,800 17,102 Avg PURPLE 4G A Yes
            03/16/16 DALLAS Regular $23,500 19,619 Avg SILVER 4GT A Yes
            03/21/16 ORLANDO $23,600 19,722 Avg RED 4G A Yes
            03/17/16 ARENA IL $22,800 21,623 Avg RED 4G A Yes
            03/24/16 NASHVILL $23,500 22,498 Avg GREY 4GT A Yes
            03/29/16 HOUSTON Lease $23,500 23,276 Avg RED 4G A Yes
            03/03/16 DENVER $23,400 23,404 Avg BLACK 4G A Yes
            03/29/16 ORLANDO Lease $22,800 23,928 Avg BLACK 4G A Yes
            03/16/16 DALLAS Regular $23,500 27,970 Avg WHITE 4GT A Yes
            03/22/16 ST LOUIS Lease $20,600 36,388 Below SILVER 4GT A Yes

            Performance

            12/14/15 ORLANDO $32,800 11 Above GREY 4GT A No
            02/08/16 ORLANDO $31,100 19 Above BLACK 4GT A No
            10/05/15 ORLANDO $36,000 32 Above BLACK 4GT A No
            12/28/15 ORLANDO $30,000 207 Above BLACK 4GT A Yes
            09/23/15 DALLAS Regular $26,400 2,313 Avg BLUE 4GT A Yes
            01/06/16 SAN ANTO Regular $28,300 21,674 Avg BLACK 4GT A Yes

  • avatar
    FreedMike

    I haven’t driven this gen of the 3-series, but one of the best drives in my life was a manual ’08 335i. It was an absolute delight.

    But…$58,000 for this? Yikes.

    • 0 avatar
      clivesl

      That’s my wife’s car minus the stick. It is an absolute blast to drive on occasion, but I don’t know how she commutes in that thing ever day. It is very firm for a daily driver. I wouldn’t mind it being just a hair softer on long highway drives.

      Of course my ride is an 04 Sienna, so your definition of ‘too firm’ may vary.

      As to price, we picked it up CPO for like $28K out the door. They are pretty thick on the ground in the Bay Area.

    • 0 avatar
      jkross22

      Exactly. $58k is simply too much for the traditional 3 series customer. BMW knows their customer base, so they’ll lease these things for $5k down and $650/month. Trouble is, that’s $28k for a 3 year lease.

      That’s a lot of money for a non-M badged car.

  • avatar

    Redgardless the engine power…I’d rather have a C-class if forced to choose between the German manufacturers.

    Otherwise, I’d take a fully loaded Genesis V6 AWD.

    • 0 avatar
      CoreyDL

      Of course you would, because it’s a non-comparable Hyundai/Kia. Do they give you $3 every time you say their name?

    • 0 avatar
      duffman13

      Likewise. The value proposition on the Hyundai is too high, though I’d say the Ultimate package is unnecessary and one could get away with tech if they wanted close to everything. All you really get from the Ultimate is a slightly fancier infotainment system and better wood trim, where tech gives you all of the modern driver aids. Personally I’d be happy with Signature

      MSRP is $53k fully loaded, just shy of $50k with tech/signature, and $46k with just signature. Real world transaction prices are $5-7k below this based on TrueCar and my own personal experience buying a high-dollar Hyundai a couple years ago. The dealers we spoke to were more than willing to go into hold-back money. There are a pair of service loaners with the signature package in my area for sale as new cars with dealers asking in the low $30k range.

      That’s a class size up, just as quiet and powerful, and at least a $10k savings. Unless you really need the badge, the value proposition is hard to pass up. As a used vehicle, even more so considering most 2 year old off-lease Geneses are being listed close to $20k.

    • 0 avatar
      Master Baiter

      “Otherwise, I’d take a fully loaded Genesis V6 AWD.”

      Yeah, nothing drops panties like a Hyundai.

  • avatar
    e28m5isbetter

    i wont wield a pitchfork just because BMW is the new Caddy/Honda. They’ve been headed that way a long time.

  • avatar
    CoreyDL

    “I like the big back seat and the enormous trunk.”

    *chuckle*

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      More like chortle.

      • 0 avatar
        CoreyDL

        It’s a sad state we’re in currently, where either of those things passes for big and/or capacious. It’s an inch shorter than a 5-Series was in 1998. Yet I’m betting the 5 compares much more favorably in passenger and cargo room, because it was a reasonable shape for a sedan.

        • 0 avatar
          Ubermensch

          It doesn’t. The rear seats in my co-workers e39 540 are very cramped compared to my girlfriends 2013 335i. Their is very little leg and toe room in the e39 when the drivers seat is setup for a 6′ driver.

          • 0 avatar
            burgersandbeer

            Most people sit too far back. Is that the case with your co-worker?

            I could comfortably ‘sit behind myself’ in my 540. I couldn’t exactly stretch out, but my head did not touch the roof while I sat upright, and my knees did not touch the seat. Plenty of space for the feet too.

            I’m very curious to try an F30 to see how it compares. I thought the E39 was a great size; it would make me very happy if the F30 is similar.

        • 0 avatar
          krhodes1

          It may be an inch shorter – but look at an e39 5-series. It has actual BUMPERS that stick out. In reality, the F30 is BIGGER than an e39 5-series in every way that matter.

          BMW is just like every other car maker of the last 30 years. Cars have grown such that each model line is now the size of what was one size up back then. The current Civic is the size of an ’80s-90s Accord, and a 3-series is the size of a two generations ago 5-series. If you want a 2016 e46 3-series, buy a 2-series.

          EVERYBODY b!tched about the back seat in the e46 back in the day, it was pretty much for middle-schoolers only. This car is bigger, more comfortable, and MUCH faster, for the same or less money adjusted for inflation.

          BMW has actually done a decent job of keeping the shape of their sedans useful. For the simple reason that if you want style over back seat usefulness there are the 4 and 6 series Gran Coupes. But best of all, you can get the 3-series in a proper station wagon format, though sadly not with much choice in drivetrain.

          • 0 avatar
            Shawnski

            Agreed krhodes. I leased a ’12 335 after an ’08 135. I hated everything about the car (the lighter steetring, tech overload), until I realized how excellent it really was. The roominess, fuel economy with outstanding engine/trans performance and comfort really won me over.

            When I first got I chided that it was a Bavarian Camry. Now I don’t think I ever had a more ideal car. The F30 deserves its success.

  • avatar
    tonycd

    The Ultimate Wafting Machine.

    Another terrific review, Alex. Glad to see your measured, thorough style has outlasted the haters.

  • avatar
    Spartan

    Did they finally put LED tail lamps on this car because I know the 2015 models didn’t have them. That, and the cheap looking front end and interior is one of the reasons I’ll never buy one (Yes, I know the materials are nice, but the 3er interior has looked cheap for years, especially in black). I’ve cross-shopped the 3-Series twice and never came away with one. I did own a 2010 G37 6MT for many years and I preferred that car to the E90, even with the paint shaker 3.7L V6.

    If you’re going to buy 3-Series and don’t need the extra power or manual transmission, you may as well spring for a 5-Series with the 2.0T and get a lot more car for your money. You’ll be glad you did because it does everything the 3er does better with more space, features and better ride quality.

    If you want a sport sedan (what the 3er used to be), buy a C-Class or an Infiniti Q50. Skip the ATS since the value will drop like a rock once the Cadillac names start changing again.

  • avatar
    slance66

    I find the rear end of the C Class to be absolutely hideous. I got rid of my ’07 3 series due to the ride quality. BMW had to fix it, they simply had to. It was atrocious.

    I haven’t driven them all, but I’d likely choose between this and the Lexus if I was picking up a CPO one in say, 3 years.

  • avatar
    kefkafloyd

    A $58K car with an ugly-ass hood cut.

    https://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/03/2016-BMW-340i-Exterior-001-610×407.jpg

    Other cars have hood cuts, yet they somehow don’t look as distracting as this. The hood should either extend down to the twin kidneys and cut there, or the kidney grille should be part of the hood. Or find some other way to make the hood cut that doesn’t distract from the visual design of the front end.

    Somehow the C-Class’ hood cut on paint-color grilles manages to look like it’s integrated into the front end in a sensible way, in that if you had put a chrome grille it would perfectly look like a Benz, whereas the “across the two headlights” of the Bimmer just looks like an afterthought.

    • 0 avatar
      smartascii

      I, too, think the hood cut looks like BMW just gave up, particularly when they used to make the hood and grille a single piece. According to the local BMW dealer, though, it’s something to do with pedestrian crash regulations. This may be true, or they may be pulling my leg, but either way, it’s ugly.

  • avatar
    dal20402

    Alex, I appreciate the balanced treatment, but I think you’re being too nice to the car in a couple of areas. The phoned-in interior, which doesn’t appear to have changed in any significant way during the MMC, is really an embarrassment for something at the same price point as the C-Class or 2017 A4. It competes on a more or less even basis with those in the Accord or Mazda6, except that the optional sport seats are better-shaped. The steering feel of pre-MMC models was also notable for its badness even compared to other EPS systems, and I get the sense that nothing has changed during the MMC.

    BMW is just not making me want their cars at the moment. The cars feel obviously designed with volume and lease terms as the highest priority. The C-Class, the A4, and even the IS (only in 350 form) speak to me more.

    • 0 avatar
      carguy

      +1. All current BMW interiors lag behind the competition and the 3 series is no exception. It works on a $35K 320 but certainly not in the $50-60K price range.

      They also need to revisit their standard equipment list. A backup camera on a $40K+ car should be standard.

  • avatar
    pb35

    So is the 340 a German Accord or is the Accord a Japanese 340? So confused.

  • avatar
    Robbie

    Is it just me, or do more people dislike the sides of this car? It makes the car look obese and reminds me of 50 year old men with beer bellies hanging over their belts.

  • avatar
    B Buckner

    You want this car because it has a straight six engine that is much smoother and dynamically balanced than its V-6 competitors, and it has rear wheel drive that many drivers prefer to front or all wheel drive. Plus competitive power and excellent gas mileage to boot (+30 on highway).

    • 0 avatar
      stuki

      What the inline layout giveth, the turbos taketh away…

      Ditto for the RWD layout and the runflats. Like watching Bolshoi ballerinas forced to dance in ski boots.

  • avatar
    hubcap

    I know they’re different buyers, different cars and some Prospective BMW owners might not consider it but I’d take a Chevy SS over this car eeryday.

    I’d also look at a Golf R or WRX. Less spend for at least equal thrills. Use the money saved for flight lesson, a motorcycle, or both.

    And since a mentioned a Golf, take a look at a GTI interior and compare it to the 340i. I happen to like the bimmer’s interior put for its price point, as others have said, it seems to be lacking.

  • avatar
    BlueEr03

    This just had me thinking, when are we going to start seeing Android Auto/Car Play in the German luxury offerings? I remember reading last year that BMW would start offering it, but with no date. I can get it in a VW but not in an Audi? Are they just so arrogant that they think they can do it better?

  • avatar
    NoGoYo

    So if this is 58k, how much is a 440i with the same equipment?

  • avatar
    SC5door

    Phoned in interior?

    More like “Copy + Paste”.

  • avatar
    DCicch

    “Gemüsesuppe” – nouns in German are capitalized

  • avatar
    tjh8402

    Alex, I admire your honesty. It’s wrong and blasphemous and the Inquisition needs to speak to you about how to repent for your sins, but it is ballsy :-P.

    The only redeeming quality this car has is it’s stick shift, and damned if that isn’t a big one. I almost hope BMW stops offering it so this former e46 owner can officially pronounce the 3 series dead and buried in my mind. If only Cadillac or Lexus offered a manual with their V6 engines (Audi stops next year). Thank god Cadillac has such horrible depreciation on the ATS. What is way overpriced as a $40-50k car (the 4 cylinder is a no go at that pice) is a much better value used from Carmax for less than $25k and 25k miles.

    • 0 avatar
      badreligion702

      I like my F30. But that is besides the point. BMW is selling these things like hotcakes. The 3 Series nameplate will exist as long as BMW does. It is by far their most well known, successful product.

      • 0 avatar
        tjh8402

        I said dead and buried in my mind. It is obviously a market success and the 3 series will undoubtedly live on as a nameplate, even if the essence of what made the 3 series the 3 series is long gone.

        • 0 avatar
          krhodes1

          @tjh8402

          You realize this is what has been said about every single new 3-series since the e21 replaced the 2002 waaay back in 1977, right?

          “the new car is too big, too heavy, too bloated, too soft, too luxurious, blah, blah, freaking blah”

          The ONLY reason I don’t have an F31 wagon in my garage is that BMW won’t sell me one with RWD and a stickshift.

      • 0 avatar
        smartascii

        I am not trying to be mean or snarky (I swear!) when I ask: Why? Did you drive other cars when you were shopping for it? Had you had BMWs in the past? As someone who has owned and loved BMWs, I cannot bring myself to get one of the new 3-series, but I know they sell well, so I’m genuinely curious to know your thinking when you chose it.

        • 0 avatar
          badreligion702

          I was looking at A4’s, the Q50, and the Volvo S60. The new C class wasn’t out yet. The only one I liked better was the A4, but Audi wasn’t willing to deal. BMW gave me more for my trade, and I got $8k off sticker because it was a 2014 and the 2015’s had just come out. I have had an Acura and 3 Audi’s in the past, and my 328i is not as nice inside as the Audi’s, but I think it looks better outside, and think it drove better than the quattro A4.

          • 0 avatar
            tjh8402

            I will point out that you skipped the two cars that most reviewers say are the most fun to drive the IS and ATS. The cars you cross shopped don’t have much to recommend for them. The A4, Q50, and S60 are all rather dull uninspring blobs. The S60 only deserved note for its late lamented turbo straight six motor.

    • 0 avatar
      badreligion702

      The ATS and IS weren’t given consideration, as both have too small a back seat. I have a teenager, at least for another few years until she goes to college. And the IS engine line wasn’t very appealing.

      • 0 avatar
        tjh8402

        I don’t understand these modern back seat size requirements people have (its not just you; it’s said all the time). My dad had a Honda Civic hatchback when I was in high school and a e36 BMW convertible when I was in college and I road in the back of those all the time just fine. I would carry adult male friends in the back of my e46 BMW sedan without issue. I’ve even had them in the back of my Fiat (and I’ve ridden in the back of it as well). One of my best friends has a Corolla. I and other adult guys ride in the back of that all the time wth no issues with the space.

        We’ll have to agree to disagree on the engine line up. The Toyota V-6s are some of the sweetest smoothest engines on the market. Far more appealing than the 4 cylinder in the 328, but I also think 4 cylinders have place in $40k luxury sedans (and yes, I’ve driven a BMW with the N20)

        • 0 avatar
          badreligion702

          I’ve long preferred a turbo 4 to an NA 6. I like the low end grunt, and the engine sound doesn’t bother me. I have had a TL with Honda’s 280HP 3.5 V6, and that engine had to be pushed to 5000+ RPM before the power really came on. And the IS250 engine was an embarrassment in a luxury car. The IS350 is much better, but not much faster than my 328i was before the Dinan Stage 1. And I am 6’3, so the extra back leg room is very useful when we have 4 people in the car, which happens a lot.

        • 0 avatar
          badreligion702

          And I just noticed, you have a Fiat. How is that in any way a better choice than my BMW?

          • 0 avatar
            tjh8402

            I wasn’t the one that originally questioned your decision to purchase the BMW. I simply noted in your response to the question of what vehicles you cross shopped that you left out the highest ranked competitors. As I said in my OP, if I was going to buy a current generation car from this segment, I’d go to carmax and buy an ATS 6MT from there and put one of their warranties on it. None of the cars in this segment appeal to me anymore – the Caddie and Lexus for their lack of six cylinder stick shifts and BMW for it’s dullness. I can tolerate a compromised car a lot better at $25k than I can at $40k.

            I don’t see how you’re comparing buying a used $15k Fiat to a new $40k BMW. There’s a lot that’s acceptable in a $15k used car that isn’t in a $40k new one. It was a good choice for me because putting 24k miles a year on an out of warranty BMW with nearly 150k miles on it isn’t the smartest move in the world and I needed something cheaper to operate and with a warranty. It’s also better at carrying stuff than the BMW, and I regularly fill its cargo area up.

          • 0 avatar
            badreligion702

            Well, since it was my $40k, I decide what I find acceptable. Same as you. For $15k, I would find a used Fiat unacceptable. My 328i does what I want. It comfortably carries myself, my wife, and my daughter, and all of our stuff. I like the performance, I like the very comfortable seats, and I like all the attention to detail. It was a better choice for me than the competitors, the ones I drove and the ones I didn’t because they were disqualified for space and drivetrain reasons.

        • 0 avatar
          PennSt8

          I do find that the ATS is superior to the 3 in terms of handling/steering. Having said that those redeeming qualities tend to fade quickly when things such as: headroom, fit and finish and infuriating vehicle controls get in the way.

          • 0 avatar
            krhodes1

            I completely agree with Alex – the 3-series is not and has never been the best at everything (and often the best at nothing – they used to be expensive and not fast). But it has been the best “all-rounder” for pretty much it’s entire existence. Which is why it remains the standard by which all others are judged in this class.

        • 0 avatar
          burgersandbeer

          I think we read a lot of complaints about backseats because packaging is worse. It’s very frustrating to have a car with a large footprint where you still can’t sit in the back seat comfortably. The cars are growing, but in many cases the passenger space isn’t growing with them.

          The ATS for example, is larger than an E46 but has less legroom on paper. I haven’t sat in one, but I’ll bet it is less in real life too. The E46 backseat is pretty good for a compact car; at 6′, I can almost sit behind myself (I have a long torso so headroom is an issue).

  • avatar
    JuniperBug

    Holy hell, this thing weighs over 3,600 lbs?!

    This hits close to home for me, because that’s what my land-whale ’04 Concorde weighs.

  • avatar
    TMA1

    Two thousand bucks for stand-alone navigation. When is that well going to run dry for automakers? This seems like punishment for image conscious people who really, really don’t want to be seen in a Camry.

    • 0 avatar
      tjh8402

      Or it’s an acknowledgement that in car SATnav isn’t as desirable a feature as it used to be. I would never willingly pay extra for it. I have my phone. If I had $ I’d have a tablet. Either way, I have no reason to pay extra for another GPS in my car, especially when my experience is that my phone and tablet work are better at navigating anyway.

      • 0 avatar
        TMA1

        I agree. But many automakers still like to bundle it into their top trims, and charge you an arm and a leg for it. You wouldn’t want to go without leather, would you?

        But more importantly, for this class of cars, who wants to be the one to pick someone up in their new BMW and say they didn’t option the nav? These cars are supposed to make you look wealthy. You can’t let the car give you away, by neglecting such an obvious luxury item (real leather can be passed up, because, wow, ain’t that German vinyl grand?).

        Supposedly, nav-less luxury cars are resale poison, as well. I doubt there are many off-lease 3-series sitting in the CPO aisle without navigation.

    • 0 avatar
      Master Baiter

      Also, considering automotive design cycles, your new car has GPS technology that’s already five years old.

    • 0 avatar
      stuki

      I’m not a fan of the new Bimmers, but they do drive “expensively.” Especially the I6s. They are heavy, and feel twice as heavy as they are. And the turbos dull everything coming from the engine room, and pump up low end power, so the powertrain feel almost like an infinite cubic inch V8. Or perhaps one of the gigantic old RR/Bent turbo V8s.

      What they lack, is the old school lightness/rattiness, the need to work them a bit to go fast, that made the E36 and prior so engaging. But most people seem to prefer a miniature S Class, and the new ones are pretty good at being just that.

      • 0 avatar
        krhodes1

        @Stuki

        Try a 2-series. Mine feels like it weighs 1000lbs less than it’s admittedly porky actual weight, and goes like the clappers from just off idle to redline. Every bit as revvy as the N52 in my 328i, though the problem is that if you use all the revs in more than 2nd gear you will get your license shredded in a hurry. It’s nice not to HAVE to rev the wee out of it to make rapid progress, but the progress gets really, really rapid when you do.

        • 0 avatar
          stuki

          I might just do that. The 2 seems to be Bavaria’s attempt to hold on to their greying and dying ex faithful.

          Do they have “any” non M model without those destructive devices called runflats mounted on them? After literally breaking three of them (not kidding nor exaggerating; sidewalls broke, on 3 separate tires) on an E90 335 in less than a month (moved to Sonoma Coast; great but variably maintained and unfamiliar roads), I’m not touching another one. The fact that the softened bushings installed to make the ride on what amounts to solid rubber hoops bearable, made the car a wallowrama in sweepers, didn’t help much either.

          To be honest, though; I’m kind of more enamored with slow cars I can redline through the first 4 gears without attracting much attention nor overdriving my waning eyesight and reactions these days. And, unless I really need the space, or the all weather and/or long distance comfort, I’m on a bike. So I have kind of decided to celebrate middle age by acting young again; petulantly sulking in a corner like a teenager. Buying nothing, until Honda relents, and brings in that S660 thingy they were showing off a year or so ago….

    • 0 avatar
      krhodes1

      It’s $56K without NAV, $58K with. Who cares? The only reason I got the Tech Package in my M235i was for the extra screens in the dash, I didn’t even want the NAV system. But for $2K when you are spending $50K? Why not? Though that said, it is a SUPERB NAV system and blows away using Googlemaps on my phone (which is what I do in my other cars). No regrets at all.

      I appreciate that BMW still actually lets you pick and choose options more than other makers do. Though still not enough.

      • 0 avatar
        CoreyDL

        Does your RR have the old factory nav? It seemed about 50/50 during those last years on that generation, so long as it was an HSE.

        • 0 avatar
          krhodes1

          The NAV in the Rover is long gone and replaced by a storage cubbie. Horrible CD-based setup in the P38. Barely worked when new 15 years ago.

          Though the kinda cool thing is the monitor in the dash is actually just a generic monitor (the brains are elsewhere – you can plug a DVD player right into it! But I wanted the storage cubbie that the non-HSEs got, so I swapped it all out.

          • 0 avatar
            CoreyDL

            Wow, quite behind the times, still using CD based by that point. My 01 GS had DVD based. It was pretty good, as long as you didn’t drive anywhere built since 1999. Ha.

          • 0 avatar
            krhodes1

            The Rover system debuted in ’94, so not terribly surprising it was CD-based. Had it’s own changer in the back.

            BMW is doing OTA updates for the NAV system for the cars that have LTE modems. I’ve gotten a couple since I got my M235i. Nice.

            Pretty sure they are using Google’s data for the traffic and re-routing – I get the same results as on my phone. I can make a route in GoogleMaps on phone or desktop and send it to the car too, though I rarely bother.

  • avatar

    We are debating the wrong target. This car is set up as a typical magazine writer tester…big brakes, sport package, big motor. This is exactly what you will NOT find on the lot of any mass market dealer. You will find “manager specials” which will be the turbo 4, autobox, leather, and for some cars, Nav. (All the car makers play this game. Try to find FE3 tuned Caddies on a lot, but every single road test was of that trim)

    My e46 and I are sad to see what has become of BMW. They aren’t worth it any more, unless you special order the car…like the tester. You can still get a good one, but the F30’s I’ve driven, manager specials all, are badge whored Accords. A friend has an //M sport 428i, and it handles nicely, but I did miss the six. The four makes thrust, but isn’t silky like the six. The 235 track pack car, on the other hand, was a real successor to the e46. We’ve now covered 2% of the 3 series out there…the other 98% will be boring…sorry.

    My e46 is in its dotage. When it goes, I will look at an horribly depreciated ATS to replace it.

    • 0 avatar
      tjh8402

      @speedlaw – as a former e46, I agree with everything that you say. The last time I was at the BMW dealer there wasn’t a single new stick shift car on the lot. That was a depressing day.

      BMW would be in a slightly better position if the 2 series had an available 4 door, or at least gran coupe version (I’d love a 3 door hatchback but that’s really dreaming). For anyone that needs more space, unfortunately you’re SOL with BMW. If I was shopping in the $35-40k range new, I think I’d go for the Focus RS. Faster and more fun to drive than the BMW. Turbo I-4 just like the BMW. Lot more cargo space than any of the BMWs.

  • avatar
    vanpressburg

    When will BMW bring 2 liter engine from B58 family to North America?
    3 liter is too heavy, 2 liter is the best choice.

  • avatar
    kosmo

    Lots of comments.

    Has anybody said they’d take one of these tomorrow, in a wagon?

    Because I would, and I’m not internet-kidding.

    Always thought I’d have a BMW wagon until I died, then they quit allowing U.S. buyers to select the manual transmission, not too mention the big engine (though I could live with the new I4 and a stick shift).

    • 0 avatar
      tjh8402

      @kosmo – at one point I would’ve considered a 3 series wagon CPO or from carmax. If it had a stick shift available, it would be worthy of consideration. However, between the I-4 and the the new dull soft chassis, there’s less to differentiate the BMW from the much cheaper and still highly regarded VW Golf Sportwagon. I would’ve had to drive the two side by side to see if the BMW was worth the extra $. However, with the slushbox being the only available transmission, the only reason to pick the BMW over the VW is RWD, an advantage offset by the dull numb chassis and steering. I’ll take a lower price, stick shift, and a good FWD chassis over a more expensive, automatic, poor RWD chassis.

      • 0 avatar
        krhodes1

        If you think the F3x is numb, then you would think that the non-GTI VW Golf platform is comatose. I like them both, though I do think that the F3x needs the sport suspension, whereas IMHO the sport suspension ruined the E9x.

        • 0 avatar
          tjh8402

          @krhodes – I realize that the VW will be unsatisfying, but so would an F30, so if I won’t be happy either way, I’d rather just get the cheaper one. Unsatisfying compromise is a lot easier to accept at $25-30k than $40-45k. I think I can have a lot more fun spending that $10k-20k on something else rather than going from a Golf to a 328.

    • 0 avatar
      krhodes1

      If I could get one with RWD and a stick, there would already be an F31 in my garage. But since they won’t sell me what I want, I simply kept my RWD stick E91 3-series wagon and “settled” on an M235i instead.

      I am a huge fan of the 2.0T, nice to see that Saab was right all those years. Anything more is largely unnecessary.

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