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LA show: BMW to show M340i in Tinsel Town

BMW’s new M340i xDrive sedan about a year away from Australian launch

14 Nov 2018

BMW Group Australia is targeting a late-2019 launch date for the new M-enhanced six-cylinder 3 Series, the M340i xDrive sedan, that is primed for its global debut at the Los Angeles motor show on November 26.
The company has also confirmed that it will look at importing rear-wheel-drive and Touring wagon versions of the M340i should they become available to the Australian market.
The M340i xDrive will arrive in Australia several months after the initial launch of the seventh-generation 3 Series that will kick off with the 320d and 330i about March.
Going head to head with Mercedes-AMG’s C43 and Audi’s S4, the M340i will serve as the flagship of the latest 3 Series until a fully fledged M3 comes along.
The M340i is armed with the same new turbocharged inline 3.0-litre petrol six as the just-revealed BMW Z4 (and, we assume, its Toyota Supra clone), but with a different tune pumping out 275kW/500Nm.
Power wise, the M340i will split its two main rivals, besting the V6 turbo Audi S4’s 260kW but trailing the Mercedes-AMG’s C43’s 287kW.
The M340i is claimed to zip from zero to 100km/h in 4.4 seconds, which is 0.7s faster than the current 340i (240kW/450Nm).
M340i power reaches the tarmac via an eight-speed automatic transmission and xDrive all-wheel-drive system that is biased towards the rear-wheel drive.
BMW says the AWD system has an M Sport differential that is particularly effective in the Sport and Sport+ driving modes,  enhancing agility when steering into bends.
This handling performance is aided by M-specific sports suspension that not only lowers the ride height by 10mm but also has optimised springs, dampers and camber adjustment.
Sitting on fat 18-inch alloy wheels (19-inch alloys are optional), the M340i has a wider track than the standard 3 Series variants.
Sitting behind those wheels are M Sport brakes with distinctive blue M callipers. Front discs are 348mm with four-pot stoppers, while rear retardation is supplied by 345mm discs with single calliper floating callipers.
While power and performance is up, fuel economy compared with the 340i takes a hit, with the M340i drinking 7.5 litre per 100km versus 6.8L/100km for the tamer model.
M340i buyers can console themselves that their 3 Series looks better, with an M-design bodykit with chunky front bumper and spoiler, matching rear apron, sports side sills and a rear spoiler.
The kidney grille gets mesh inserts. Exterior trim on items such as the grille surround, mirrors, tailpipes and badge lettering are all finished in a metallic grey.
Inside, the M design is carried through with sports seats cloaked in a combination of artificial materials – Sensatec and Alcantara – instead of traditional leather. The steering wheel, however, gets the leather treatment from M.
BMW has hinted that a rear-wheel-drive version of the M340i will become available, along with a Touring wagon variant with the same treatment.
BMW Group Australia says it will consider these variants if and when they are made available to this market.
M340i xDrive sedan pricing and Australian specification will be announced closer to launch.

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