BMW is hosting its second M Festival at the Kyalami Grand Prix Circuit from 26 to 27 October 2019. Gero Lilleike attended the media day, which marks the start of the festival, to sample the eagerly-awaited new M340i xDrive.
Local BMW fans are in for a treat at the 2nd-ever M Festival this weekend, where the public will be able to view and test drive various BMW products while also being entertained with music, food and activities for the whole family. We had the opportunity to sample a range of new BMW products that are now available in South Africa.
BMW M340i xDrive in SA
While we wait for the official reveal of the new M3 (which is scheduled for 2021, although a "leaked image" of the super sedan surfaced this week), the potent M340i xDrive is the flagship derivative of the G20-generation 3 Series and it’s now officially available in South Africa. It's powered by a beefed-up 3.0-litre 6-cylinder turbopetrol engine that produces peak outputs of 285 kW and 500 Nm of torque and drives all 4 wheels through an 8-speed sport automatic transmission. BMW claims a 0-100 kph time of 4.4 seconds and a fuel consumption figure of at 7.7 L/100km.
A nice place to be, whether on the road or at the track.
The M340i xDrive rides on 18-inch, double-spoke light-alloy wheels, although 19-inch wheels (in 4 distinct designs) are optionally available. BMW's M Division weighs in with the M Sport suspension, -differential and -brakes and variable sport steering, all of which are fitted as standard.
In terms of infotainment, BMW’s Connected Package Professional (with integrated navigation), along with Live Cockpit Plus are also fitted as standard, while features such as gesture control and Apple CarPlay preparation can be additionally specified.
The sports seats are covered in a combination of suede cloth and artificial leather and other key features include cruise control, climate control, front and rear park distance control, automatic headlights, rain-sensing wipers and adaptive LED headlights.
Safety is taken care of with 6 airbags, ABS with EBD, brake assist and stability control with traction control.
What’s the BMW M340i xDrive like to drive on track?
The M340i xDrive offers a good balance between offering scintillating performance and everyday usability.
It must be said at the outset that the M340i xDrive looks purposeful in the metal; we couldn't wait to take it for a run on the track. We only had one hot-lap around Kyalami at the 'wheel of the new Bimmer and it was a thrilling one! We dialled it straight into Sport mode and put the hammer down!
This is a very quick car. The M340i xDrive simply piles on the pace... in a cultured, refined manner. The car felt particularly nimble on track and it dove into corners with intent and precision. Power delivery is smooth and progressive and we were struck by the Bimmer's ability to be both a saint and a sinner... In one sense it's a comfortable, refined tar-devouring sports sedan, but it can dish out serious performance when it's tasked to do so.
The 8-speed sports transmission was responsive to throttle inputs and snappy shifts were quickly executed using the steering-wheel-mounted shift paddles. The xDrive system predominantly apportions power to the rear wheels under most conditions and through some of the corners at Kyalami, the rear-end felt delightfully playful. Up to 50% of power can, however, be shifted to the front wheels if necessary to add traction upon corner exits.
In the blink of an eye, our lap was done and we were left wanting more. While the forthcoming M3 will undoubtedly offer a more hardcore performance experience, the M340i xDrive perhaps manages to strike a more accessible balance between performance and everyday usability.
We will hopefully have the BMW M340i xDrive on test in the near future, which means you can expect a thorough evaluation soon. More importantly, though, we are also keen to pit the M340i xDrive against its Mercedes-AMG C43 and Audi S4 rivals; it should be an interesting showdown...
BMW M340i - Price in South Africa
BMW M340i - R981 711
BMW 3 Series M340i xDrive M Performance Launch Edition - R1 006 211
The BMW M340i is sold with a 2-year/unlimited warranty and a 5-year/100 000km Maintenance Plan