2016 BMW 340i: Oozes Competence
by Jason Kavanagh, Engineering Editor on July 29, 2016
This job is all about picking nits. Drive a car, look for shortcomings, report on said shortcomings. So when I find it hard to say something about our long-term 2016 BMW 340i, that says something.
It's a car that does what it does at a high level of accomplishment. You might call this excellence, and I won't disagree.
The new 3.0-liter inline-6 is a gem, not only in power delivery but also refinement and sound. Ditto the BMW-fettled, ZF-built 8-speed auto, which I maintain is the best execution of an automatic transmission extant.
The 340i's seats, style, ride, handling, space, fuel-efficiency (if you can resist the siren call of power), quietness...they're all done to a high standard. This is a car that will satisfy an unusually broad range of sensibilities.
I maintain that it's too large — this 3 Series is a great 5 Series — but that's been the case for years now. And I lament the loss of civilization's best-ever cruise control interface: the BMW stalk. The 340i's steering wheel-mounted buttons are more fiddly than the now-extinct stalk (pour a little out), though the actual control-of-cruising itself is quite good.
This car simply oozes competence. If there's a downside to all its goodness, it's the price tag. A 3 Series equipped like ours is not an inexpensive car at very nearly $60,000. Cue involuntary eyebrow-raising.
Were it me, I'd skip the AWD and some of our car's optional features and instead go for the manual gearbox (even though the auto is brilliant). I'm also intrigued by the available Track Handling package for its non-run-flat Michelin Super Sport tires and upgraded brakes, but would need to drive one thusly equipped before giving it the nod.
Jason Kavanagh, Engineering Editor @ 5,214 miles