Who Needs the 5? - 2016 BMW 340i xDrive Long-Term Road Test

2016 BMW 340i xDrive Long-Term Road Test

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2016 BMW 340i: Who Needs the 5?

by Josh Sadlier, Senior Editor on May 12, 2016

2016 BMW 340i

I'm possibly not the first person on the intertubes to point this out, but my, how large today's "compact sport sedans" have become. Here's our long-term 2016 BMW 340i parked behind an "E39" BMW 5 Series — the (perfectly styled) one from the late '90s and early '00s. I'll be dog-darned if they're not about the same size.

This calls for some numbers.

Zoinks! I am at least somewhat dog-darned. Our 340i is 182.4 inches long, while Wikipedia and other sources say the E39 sedan was 188 inches long. A 5.6-inch delta is not consistent with "about the same size," I must admit.

But check this out: the current 3 Series has a 110.9-inch wheelbase versus 111.4 for the E39, so that's basically a wash. It's also a fraction of an inch wider. And according to none other than Edmunds.com, the 340i has 35.1 inches of rear legroom — nearly an inch more than the E39.  

I'm concluding from this that the 3 Series is in fact functionally the same size as the 5 Series used to be, even if it's shorter nose to tail. Which raises the question:

Why would you buy a 5 Series, anyway?

For me, the answer is clear and involves a certain 445-horsepower twin-turbo V8. But unless you're into that sort of thing (and money), it's not an easy argument to make.

Josh Sadlier, Senior Editor @ 1,624 miles

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