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The new BMW M340i is the fastest non-M 3 Series

New 3er is a four-wheel-drive 370bhp saloon that’s faster than the old V8 M3

This is the fastest, seventh-gen BMW 3 Series you will soon be able to buy that’s not a fully-fledged M model. It is the BMW M340i: a four-wheel-drive saloon that’s quicker than an old V8 M3 saloon.

Though one down from the upcoming M3, this M340i is no slouch. There’s BMW’s familiar 3.0-litre single-turbo (twin-scroll) straight-six, here featuring an aluminium crankcase and cylinder head, “compact” steel exhaust manifold and redeveloped turbo.

The fuel injectors work under increased pressure, it gets Valvetronic and double Vanos cam control and in total, develops 370bhp and 369lb ft of torque. Allied to four-wheel-drive (with a rear-bias) and an eight-speed automatic gearbox, it’ll see off the 0-62mph dash in 4.4s which, says BMW, is “half a second faster than the top-of-the-range model of the previous generation” 3er.

It’s also three-tenths quicker than the old V8 M3 (E90) with a DCT gearbox. Yikes. Should sound good, we’re promised, thanks to twin exhaust pipes direct from M Sport.

In fact, M have worked over the suspension and diff, too. It’s 10mm lower than a regular new 3 Series, the suspension components have been lightened, the track width has been subtly widened, there are optional adaptive M dampers, and a standard electric diff. Also there’s something called ‘variable sport steering’, said to provide better feedback. Hmm.

The brakes have been beefed up too – bigger discs (348mm/345mm front and rear) hide behind 18in wheels, though you can option 19s – there’s a new kidney grille mesh, rear spoiler, mirror caps, air intake struts, and an interior garnished with M Sport bits (steering wheel, seats, instrument cluster).

We’ll see it for real at the upcoming LA Motor Show at the end of November. What on earth will they cook up for the full M3, we wonder?

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