2023 BMW M340i Review - More Than Enough M For Most

Chris Tonn
by Chris Tonn

Fast Facts

2023 BMW M340i

3.0-liter twin-turbo inline-six (382 horsepower @ 5,800 RPM, 369 lb-ft @ 1,800 RPM)
Eight-speed automatic transmission, rear-wheel drive
Fuel Economy, MPG
23 city / 31 highway / 26 combined (EPA Rating)
Base Price
$55,845 U.S.
As Tested
$65,570 U.S.
Prices include $995 destination charge in the United States. RWD model tested not available in Canada.
2023 bmw m340i review more than enough m for most

For decades, enthusiasts have known the M badge from BMW. M stands for motorsport, and indeed it was once a separate division within the company that produced both cars for racing and hot street cars. But the M badge had two meanings - and, for much of the lineup, still does. Here’s the decoder ring.

If the M badge has a single digit after it - think M1, M3, or M8 - then the car in question is the hottest possible version of that particular platform. Beware the modifying presence of a letter X, which means crossover. It may be fast - heck it may be insanely fast, but it’s a crossover. But if the M is followed by multiple characters - for example, M535i from the E28 generation of the Eighties - it’s typically a warmed-over, but still basic car. 

Older readers might call it “M for Mediocre,” my Gen X/Xennial generation might call it “M for Meh,” whereas young whippersnappers might call it “M for Mid.” I think I got that last one right.

Anyhow, what we have today is an anomaly within the BMW taxonomy. This 2023 BMW M340i isn’t the hottest of the latest 3-series sedans - that’s either the full-fat M3 or the Extra Tasty Crispy M3 Competition. But the M3 has become punishing to drive on the streets of late, trading civility for those extra tenths. This M340i, on the other hand, is what most people want out of a sports sedan.

I promise you, we don’t plan these things. It just worked out that this week happens to be 3-series week here at The Mighty Mighty TTAC, as Tim reviewed the baby brother 330i this week as well. That’s all well and good, and if you’re looking for a moderately-sporty sedan it’s perfectly fine. But if you’re shopping for what the marketers call the Ultimate Driving Machine, you want that driving machine to have some speed. With 382 horsepower coming from a twin-turbo six - augmented by a 48v electric motor supplying gobs of torque to those rear wheels - the M340i can get moving nicely. 

Thankfully, my tester was not saddled with all-wheel drive. I get it - those up north need additional traction for much of the year. But the balance of rear-drive makes a sports sedan dance just a bit, even though this can be a bit of a porker at over 3,800 pounds of curb weight. It doesn’t feel that heavy. Steering is well-weighted and communicative, and while I do at times miss the manual transmission, the ZF 8-speed torque-converter automatic is the best in the business. 

It’s not pretty, though the bulbous twin-kidney grille and what I can only guess is (if we’re keeping with the urinary tract theme) an engorged bladder lower grille is somewhat minimized by the black finish. The rest of the exterior is handsomely benign. The Skyscraper Grey metallic paint looks a bit more interesting than most silvers and grays, though God knows I’d choose something a bit less bland for an exterior finish.

The latest generation of BMW’s iDrive infotainment system is another victim of what we’ve seen across so many automakers. It’s an affliction I’d like to call Button Deleteitis. Yes, there’s a knob for volume control. There are another four buttons - total - that will allow you to shuttle between radio presets or audio tracks, as well as select max defog and rear defrost. That’s it. Everything else must be actuated via the massive touchscreen or the selector wheel to the right of the gear selection toggle. Working one’s way through menu systems to simply access seat heating is a bit absurd, don’t you think?

The interior, otherwise, is a comfy enough place to spend some time. Front seats are supportive without being punishing - something that can’t be said about the competition bucket seats often fitted to the M3. Maybe it’s all the time I spent in various Oldsmobiles in the Eighties, but I can’t help but feel comforted by the resurgence of actual colors in interiors. No, it’s no burgundy velour or light-green vinyl, but this red leather interior is quite handsome. Rear leg room isn’t plentiful, but for shorter drives or shorter folks, it’s acceptable. It’s not the Ultimate Chauffeured Machine.

As always with BMW, that you can pick and choose the features you want on your car is a double-edged sword. If you’re willing and able to order the car of your dreams, then you don’t have to be stuck with a particular feature that you don’t want to pay for. But it gets incredibly spendy very, very quickly. One feature missing from this $65,570 compact sports sedan (which already has nearly $10k in options) that is becoming increasingly commonplace in nearly every car, for example, is adaptive cruise control. No, adaptive cruise wasn’t a thing 10 or so years ago, I know. But it’s an incredibly handy feature for long highway drives, and the $700 Driving Assistance Package that was on my tester didn’t have adaptive cruise. You have to spring for the $1,700 Driving Assistance Professional Package instead if you don’t want to be an amateur freeway driver, I guess.

No, it’s not a pure-bred M3. But the 2023 BMW M340i is all the M nearly anyone might want on the street. It has all the juice, and it’s worth the squeeze.

[Images: © 2023 Chris Tonn/TTAC.com]

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3 of 32 comments
  • Michael Gallagher Michael Gallagher on Aug 12, 2023

    With respect to the lack of knobs and electronic integration, unfortunately it is the result of a recent syndrome afflicting many car designers , and designers in general. This affliction compels them to implement new technologies, not because they are needed or useful, but simply to show that they can.

  • Hreardon Hreardon on Aug 14, 2023

    '23 M340 owner here. As someone who is not likely to track his car and has to live with crappy Great Lakes roads, this really is the "goldilocks" BMW. Numerous reviewers have clocked the x-drive variant of the M340 at 3.9 seconds 0-60 - that's nutty. My "butt dyno" confirms that this car definitely boogies.

    Adaptive suspension is a must-have option if you have poor roads.

    I was skeptical of the removal of physical buttons for '23, but I'll say this: BMW's implementation actually works really well. I retain the belief that physical buttons for key items is still better, but my fear of hating iDrive 8 was unfounded. It's quite good.

    Biggest downside of the M340 (apart from the pricing) is that the steering is numb, and mine definitely requires more input on the highway to keep tracking straight than I'd like (this is a common complaint in the Bimmer forums).

    • Astigmatism Astigmatism on Aug 15, 2023

      I just picked up one of these myself a month ago. I think your Goldilocks description is exactly right. It's ridiculously fast - I believe C&D clocked it at 3.7 seconds to 60, and you can pretty easily chip it to smoke a Model 3 Performance in the quarter mile, if that's your thing - but much more comfortable over public roads than any of the true M models, which I lusted after in my 20s but have to say I simply don't understand the appeal of now in my 40s, particularly as they've gotten more and more extreme in their pursuit of track performance. I actually special-ordered mine with the stock 18-inch wheels (in addition to the adaptive suspension) to get a bit more forgiveness on winter-ravaged New England streets.

      The one disagreement I have with your post is iDrive. Coming from an Alfa Romeo that was criticized for its tech interface, I actually preferred the Alfa implementation of a scroll wheel to the BMW version. A month in, I still can't figure out how to do very basic things like switching between Bluetooth and the radio without taking my eyes off the road, unless I use BMW's voice control, which I find horribly laggy. Give us our buttons back, automakers!

  • Luke42 I'm only buying EVs from here on out (when I have the option), so whoever backs off on their EV plans loses a shot at my business.
  • Dusterdude When there is a strike the union leadership talk about “brothers and sisters “ . They should give up that charade . Bottom line is they are trying to wring out every last penny they can and could care less ( putting it politely) about the future of the industry 5 - 10 years+ down the road
  • Ronin They all will back off, because the consumer demand is not there. Even now the market is being artificially propped up by gov subsidies.
  • Keith Some of us appreciate sharing these finds. Thank you. I always have liked these. It would a fun work car or just to bomb around in. Easy to keep running. Just get an ignition kill switch and you would have no worries leaving it somewhere. Those OEM size wheels and tires are comical. A Juke has bigger wheels!
  • Ollicat I have a Spyder. The belt will last for many years or 60,000-80,000 miles. Not really a worry.