BMW 3 Series M340I Xdrive MHT 5DR Step Auto
From behind the wheel you'll struggle to tell the difference between the Touring and the saloon. Which means the Touring drives wonderfully.
Well, we’ve driven two vastly different facelifted Tourings so far – a 320d and the full-fat M340i.
We’ll kick off with the diesel. It’s a 2.0-litre four-cylinder that of course can sound a little gruff at times but does a mighty job at shifting the Touring with 187bhp and 295lb ft of torque. The mild-hybrid system acts as a starter-generator, but it can also assist with an extra 11bhp under acceleration. All 3 Series Touring engines are now paired with BMW’s eight-speed automatic gearbox, which works perfectly with the low-down diesel grunt.
In rear-wheel drive form the 320d feels beautifully pure too. BMW just knows how to do steering feel and damping, doesn’t it? Rate of turn and roll are deliciously matched, so you peel it instinctively into a bend.
A four-cylinder might not have the glamour of BMW's old sixes, but with twin-turbo torque and fine sound insulation, this engine is absolutely no hardship to use. And even the 0-62mph sprint is impressive at 7.2 seconds.
Given that the M3 Touring is set to arrive with *that* grille, the M340i xDrive Touring remains the ultimate sleeper 3 Series. It uses BMW’s turbocharged B58 3.0-litre straight-six (the M3 gets the twin-turbo S58 engine) and produces 369bhp and 369lb ft of torque. 0-62mph is quoted at 4.6 seconds, while top speed is 155mph.
It’s a fantastic powertrain with huge breadth. It’s as happy quietly cruising at Autobahn speeds in comfort mode as it is attacking a B road in all-out Sport Plus. In the latter it sounds angry enough too, with pops on the overrun and a mature, beefy sound under acceleration. And yet you’ll still manage an easy 30mpg even with plenty of spirited driving. Magic.
The xDrive system bestows traction that's all but inexhaustible. Even so, stick it in Sport mode to send more torque to the back, and loosen the traction control to its mid setting, and a real sense of playfulness emerges.
The Touring is still sporty, but the ride is more than acceptable whether you go for standard Sport trim with the smallest 17-inch wheels, or if you go for M Sport trim with its firmer setup and 18-inch wheels. The optional adaptive damping gives the 3 Touring extra bandwidth, but it's not essential.
Still, as a long-distance car the 3 Series does a lot to compensate for that ride. Quietness and refinement are first rate, especially from the engine and wind noise. Motorway lane stability is fine too. And the optional driver aids work unobtrusively, which can’t be said for many competitors.
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