Here’s the range topper for the new G20 BMW 3 Series, at least until the next-gen M3 arrives. To debut at the Los Angeles Auto Show later this month, the BMW M340i xDrive sits above the 330i and is good for 0-100 km/h in just 4.4 seconds – that’s supercar territory not too long ago.

Under the hood is a 3.0 litre straight-six engine that sets it apart from the rest of the petrol G20 range, which use four-cylinder turbos. The twin-scroll turbocharged B58 features an aluminium crankcase and cylinder head. The fuel injectors now operate at up to 350 bar pressure, and Valvetronic and Double Vanos are present.

The turbo part of the equation has been revised. BMW says that the integration of the compact steel exhaust manifold and turbocharger effectuates rapid boost pressure development. A mass moment of inertia reduced by around 25% enhances turbine response and a wide opening, electrically controlled waste gate contributes towards better emission values.

All this results in an increase in output by 48 hp (from the most powerful engine available in the F30) to 374 hp. Max torque is up by 50 Nm to 500 Nm. That’s propels the M340i from 0-100 km/h in 4.4 seconds, half a second faster than the fastest F30 outside of the M3. Combined fuel consumption is 7.5 litres per 100 km, which is great for the performance on tap.

One does not shell out for a six-pot (remember when they used to be a standard feature?) just for the speed though, and Munich is promising the “characteristic sound” of the straight-six with the M40i, which gets M Sport exhaust as standard. In Sport and Sport+ modes, the valve-controlled exhaust system generates a “particularly distinctive” sound that will be “intensively perceptible” in the cabin. Two petrol particulate filters enable the M340i to meet Euro 6d-Temp requirements.

Doing transmission duties is the eight-speed Steptronic auto of the latest generation. Short ratios for the lower gears improve acceleration and a Launch Control function can be used for showboating. Steering shift paddles are standard, of course.

Like the M Performance 5 Series, the M340i gets BMW’s xDrive four-wheel drive. It’s a rear-biased set-up that “supports that brand-typical driving experience” and is particularly effective in Sport and Sport+ modes, when targeted transfer of drive to the rear wheels enhances agility in corners, Munich claims. The standard M Sport differential offers electronically controlled, fully variable rear-wheel locking function.

We move on to suspension, comprising of a double-joint spring strut front axle and a five-arm rear axle, both of which have been optimised in terms of weight and stiffness. Also altered are the track widths and wheel camber angles. In addition to 10 mm lower ride height, the M Sport suspension comprises M specific elastokinematics and the new lift-related damper control function. Variable Sport Steering is standard, but adaptive M suspension is an option.

Lastly, the M Sport brake system brakes, which is headlined by short pedal travel and a distinct pressure point, BMW says. It’s made up of four-piston fixed calliper brakes (blue with M logo) and 348 mm discs in front, and single-piston floating callipers grabbing 345 mm discs at the rear.

The standard rims are 18-inch items (225/45 front, 255/40 rear), but one can opt for 19-inch M alloys in two designs as well as 19-inch BMW Individual wheels.

The M340i’s model-specific design features include the kidney grille’s mesh design (I see teeth linking the mesh), the rear spoiler in body colour and trapezoidal exhaust tailpipe trim. The front bumper is significantly more aggressive than on the M Sport, with an extra line from the headlamp notch to the chin. Also look out for the wing mirror caps, air intake struts, kidney grille, tailpipe trim and the model lettering in Cerium Grey metallic.

Inside, the sporty 3 comes with sports seats with M-specific upholstery in Sensatec/Alcantara, black roof lining, M leather-wrapped steering wheel with shift paddles, and cabin trim strips in Aluminium Tetragon. The digital instrument cluster bears the “M340i” logo, which can also be found on the front door sills.

What do you think of the M340i’s performance and looks? More on the seventh-generation G20 3 Series here.


GALLERY: G20 BMW 3 Series