The seventh-generation BMW 3-series hits the road with the rear-wheel-drive 330i and M340i, plus their all-wheel-drive counterparts, the 330i xDrive and M340i xDrive. Updates include better weight distribution, a wider track and a body structure that is significantly lighter and stiffer than the one it replaces. Perhaps subjective, but the new 3-series also wears a face more in keeping with the current BMW lineup. The M340i and M340i xDrive also benefit from M Performance chassis tuning and an M Sport rear differential, which only enhances their capabilities.
Power in the 330i models comes from a revised twin-turbocharged 2.0L inline-four that makes 255 hp at 5,000 rpm and 295 lb-ft of torque from as low down in the rev range as 1,550 rpm. This is an extra 7 horses and 37 lb-ft over its predecessor thanks to some fine-tuning of BMW's TwinPower system. BMW claims 5.6 seconds in the sprint from 0 to 60 mph with the 2-wheel-drive variant, while the xDrive shaves three-tenths from that figure. The M340i models, meanwhile, come with a twin-turbocharged 3.0L inline-six that produces 382 hp and 369 lb-ft of torque. According to BMW, it will hit 60 mph in just 4.2 seconds. Both engines are mated exclusively to an 8-speed automatic transmission with paddle shifters and manual mode.
The 3-series is offered in Sport Line, Luxury, and M Sport trims, which differ mostly through subtle exterior design differences. Standard features include 18-inch wheels (19 for M Sports), auto start-stop, dynamic stability control, 14-way power front seats with SensaTec upholstery, fine-wood inlays, a 10-speaker premium sound system, iDrive with an 8.8-inch central screen, dynamic cruise control, a rearview camera, a multifunction steering wheel with Bluetooth hands-free connectivity with audio streaming, plus an automatic 3-zone climate control system, ambient lighting and rain-sensing windshield wipers.
Options include remote start, heated seats and steering wheel, wireless charging and WiFi hotspot, a harman/kardon surround sound system, and active cruise control. A Convenience Package brings blind-spot detection and lane departure warning, LED headlights with cornering lights. The Premium Package includes a head-up display with BMW navigation and more, plus heated seats and steering wheel. A Track Handling package adds enhanced steering, suspension and tires, plus an M Sport differential and large M Sport brakes.