Michael Crenshaw

Tested: 2016 BMW 340i xDrive Sedan

This 3 Series is a real treat...especially if you have a fat wallet.

In the never-ending battle in the entry-level luxury category, BMW has been progressively building smaller variations—1 Series and 2 Series—that try to offer 3-Series comfort and sportiness with a smaller footprint. While the 2 Series has almost replaced the 3 Series in terms of its smaller size and go-kart ability, the BMW 3 Series has grown in both size and amenities. Is it too big now? Maybe. But, if it is, BMW has done a hell of a job engineering out size.

While light steering—thanks to the integration of electronic systems in the rack—sharpens the experience, there’s no denying the amount of heft you have to toss around. At 3,850 pounds, the 340i xDrive is no lightweight. That's OK, though, because of the way it makes power...and how it makes you feel.

The new and awesome TwinPower 3.0-liter motor produces 320 horsepower and a frankly unreal 332 lb.-ft of torque at 1,380-5,000 rpm. That’s basically idling! This means acceleration is lightning quick and without hesitation. This BMW 3 Series (which is not an M model) can do 0-60 in 4.6 seconds. That’s really, really, really quick. Essentially, no matter what gear (you have eight to choose from with the automatic) or rpm level, you have incredible power, response, and available torque. This is really a baby M3.

Michael Crenshaw

It even has a distinctive, surprising growl from the motor, even with the turbos. If you really wanted to make it more noticeable, an exhaust system would probably make this a fire-breathing monster.

Playing with the xDrive system in the spring means your opportunity for truly testing its mettle is limited. We did manage to get some wet weather testing in to get a feel for the almost perfect 50/50 weight distribution and available traction, though. While adhesion is very impressive in a straight line, the system does seem to be more front-wheel drive biased, pulling the car around turns instead of pushing it. We would have preferred more of a tendency to oversteer, especially with this sport-oriented model.

While the looks of 3 Series aren’t our favorite in a lineage of amazing luxury sports sedans, it is an attractive and muscular car. The profile of the car looks the best with its distinct lines and athletic stance, which somehow seems to sculpt the air around it.

Michael Crenshaw

An interior that is spacious, if not downright large, with clean aesthetics and supportive seats makes you feel comfortable from the get-go. Since our test model was fully loaded, we had a selection of everything from the Cold Weather Package, Driver Assistance Package, Driver Assistance Plus, Lighting Package…and you get the point. The technology overload added an additional $12,000 to the cost of this 340i.

And therein lies the only downside to this BMW: the price point. Starting at $47,800 for the base 340i xDrive means you probably won’t be taking this 3 Series home for less than $50k. Our test model, which came out to $60K fully loaded is only $4K less than a base M3. We know where we would put our money at that point.

If you’re not tight with money and have a hankering for a true sports sedan that mixes luxury and performance, the 340i xDrive drives a hard bargain...without being a bargain. In our estimation, though, the remarkable drive it returns to you is worth every penny.

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