• Flagship 3 Series model
• B58 3.0-litre in-line six-cylinder engine produces 285kW and 500Nm
'They've done it again' I thought as I returned home after a night drive in the new BMW M340i xDrive. It's the first 3 Series sold in South Africa with all-wheel drive.
And that might raise eyebrows among BMW anoraks especially because this is the most powerful '3' until the full-fat M car is shown in September.
Except, it's not a surprise. All-wheel drive is simply a better way of managing dollops of power through both axles as opposed to exclusively through the rear-wheels.
What goes into the recipe for a new meal we haven't seen before in a 3 Series? An eight-speed sports transmission, the familiar B58 3.0-litre in-line six-cylinder turbocharged motor, and all-wheel drive.
Power is noted at 285kW and 500Nm, with 0-100km/h taking just 4.4 seconds says BMW. Top speed is pegged at 250km/h. A sportier suspension means you sit 10mm lower to the ground too, and hold onto a thick-rimmed steering wheel.
The cabin is festooned with M badges. And they're not for show, it has the engine and driving dynamics to match.
What's it like to drive?
This new model has more power on paper than its predecessor, and dials in what we've come to expect from the 3 Series: precise steering, a strong engine, and driving dynamics that make you want to find more twisty bits of road.
The optional adaptive dampers offer a comfortable ride despite the M340i riding on 19-inch wheels. And then it's time to dial in Sport mode and enjoy this motor car for its true purpose.
I test drove it on one my favourite roads in Cape Town, and the advantage of power spread to both axles has its advantages.
The manner in which it takes on corners is exciting because you're able to turn in sharply and power out of corners with little fuss. It remains largely neutral and almost urged me to go quicker.
There's a rear-differential that'll aid sideways action, and I managed to get the tail out without the traction control system off. So it's still lively when the steering angle and throttle intensity is aggressive. The computer quickly steps in and corrects everything like a parent wiping a baby's mouth.
With a starting price of R1 079 300, the flagship 3 Series is expensive. But it's such a rewarding car to drive that for those who buy it will feel it's worth every rand.