On track, the car’s inherent cornering balance shows a little bit more stability bias on turn-in than you might expect of something powerful and strictly rear-drive, like the last 340i. Its mid-corner attitude becomes readily adjustable with power once about a quarter-turn of steering angle is applied, however, with the lion’s share of engine torque plainly being kept at the rear wheels by the xDrive system, at least until the same amount of corrective lock is needed on corner exit.
You don’t experience the usual rush to channel torque to the front wheels just after the car’s attitude progresses beyond neutral here, which some modern four-wheel drive systems still seem to have. All of which is just another way of explaining that you can drift yourself happy in an M340i, 4WD or otherwise.
Along with BMW’s engine overhaul has come a harder-edged and more purposeful tone for this car’s straight six, of which it’s easy to approve, and a fairly urgent and accessible turn of speed that is unlikely to leave many wanting.
Should I buy one?
The M340i is a pretty heavy car by 3 Series standards. Although it corners with remarkable poise and immediacy, those adaptive dampers struggle a little to control its weight through bigger compressions (at least with true fluency), and so body control gets just a touch jittery under real examination. Away from the track and out on the road, where those dampers will be given so much more to do, that might translate into a less than perfect sense of poise. We’ll see.
The car’s CV as a really engaging sports saloon is otherwise very complete, however. And so if you don’t want to wait for a full-fat M3, or even for an Alpina B3, for a 3 Series that feels really special to drive, perhaps you needn’t.
It's funny to think that it has already been nearly seven years since BMW introduced the M Performance sub-brand and yet there’s never been an M Performance version of its biggest-selling global model. Well, it looks as if Munich is about to remedy that situation in some style.
BMW M340i xDrive prototype specification
Where Faro, Portugal Price £47,000 (est) On sale Summer 2019 Engine 6 cyls inline, 2998cc, turbocharged, petrol Power 369bhp Torque 369lb ft Gearbox 8-spd automatic Kerb weight tbc Top speed 155mph (limited) 0-62mph 4.4sec Fuel economy 37.7mpg CO2 172g/km, 37% Rivals Mercedes-AMG C43 4Matic, Audi S4 quattro