LISTEN 23:31

BMW Introduced the seventh-generation G20 3 Series for the 2019 model year and with it came a new design language, update engines, and some features from models like the 5 Series and X5, among others. To top all this off, it’s also just a bit larger and more aggressive than the seven-year-old F30 3 Series that it replaced. We didn’t get a chance to run the new 3 Series prototype around the track on the original pre-release test days, so we’ve been itching to see just how much better new the 3 Series is and whether or not all that new technology and new driving dynamics live up to the hype. So, we started reaching out in hopes of getting our hands on a new 3 Series tester, and BMW delivered. In fact, it delivered so well, that we got to spend a week with none other than the new 2020 BMW M340i – the best model you can get without going full-on M.

So, is the M340i really a poor man’s M3? Does it really compete against the Mercedes-AMG CLA45 or the Audi S5 Sportback? Does the M340i really deserve its time in the limelight? Well, after a week of a weird, love-hate affair with the 2020 BMW M340i, we have answers to all these questions and more. Here’s our experience….

  • 2019 BMW M340i - Driven
  • Year:
  • Model:
  • Engine:
  • Horsepower @ RPM:
    382 @ 6500
  • Torque @ RPM:
    369 @ 4500
  • Displacement:
    3.0 L
  • 0-60 time:
    4.2 sec.
  • Top Speed:
    155 mph
  • Price:
  • car segment:
  • size:
  • Purpose:
  • body style:

2020 BMW M340i Exterior Design

  • More aggressive than Audi S5
  • Classier than AMG CLA 45
  • Rear end is a little bland
  • Lighter than S5 but Heavier than CLA 45
  • Sedan with mild coupe styling
  • Enough M design to separate from lesser models
  • Can’t be confused for M3
2019 BMW M340i - Driven Exterior
- image 862745

The 2019 BMW 3 Series isn’t only marginally larger than the model it replaced, but it was also more attractive.

The 2020 BMW M340i takes that attractiveness to the next level without going into full-fledged M Sport territory.

The front end features a lot of chrome-like treatment with the grille (and its mesh), the bezels around the corner vents, and the headlights all featuring at least some of that flashy goodness. The kink the in grille that follows along with the upper edge of the headlights and hood feels more pronounced on the M340i but, at the same time, the mesh allows us to see just how much of that radiator grille is blocked off by plastic. It’s not bad necessarily, but it does give off a slight vibe of cheapness.

2019 BMW M340i - Driven Exterior
- image 863109

The air dam at the bottom of the front fascia is much larger and sportier than on the standard 3 Series, and the wedge cutout on the bottom of the headlights is emphasized by the more aggressive ridges on the front fascia. Those ridges are further emphasized by the plastic in the air dam, giving the front end a symmetrical feeling that we just didn’t get with the standard 3 series. The corner vents are reminiscent of what we saw on M models a decade back and really help to make the M340i stand out as opposed to the current model whose fascia, suffice it to say, is rather bland and uninviting. The hood has a rather aggressive look to it and manages to follow along with the rest of the car’s symmetry. Somehow, the overall design of the front end gives a feeling of length not commonly associated with models of this size.

2019 BMW M340i - Driven Exterior
- image 862741
The side profile of the M340i is largely similar to the standard model, but the new side skirts really bring out a more aggressive feeling.

Naturally, there are no new body lines but, to be honest, they aren’t really needed either. Since the greenhouse sits so far back, the 3 Series sedan feels more like a Sportback than an actual sedan, and that plays well in its favor considering it competes against models like the Mercedes-AMG CLA 45 and the Audi S5 Sportback. Where BMW really excelled here is that the body lines on the hood and the design of the bumper are still visible from and eye-level view when you look at the M340i dead on. It evokes a feeling you just don’t get from the standard model which is admirable given how little the side profile itself actually changes. Thanks to the design of the headlights, there’s a 3D appearance near the rear, and the 19-inch wheels play a big part in the car’s overall ambiance as well.

2019 BMW M340i - Driven Exterior
- image 862742

It might be easy to forget that the M340i is a sedan when you look at it from the front or side, but when you look at it from the rear, it becomes a little clearer. In fact, the M340i is all sedan in the rear, and it’s painfully obvious because you can’t see the position of the greenhouse or that long hood from back here. What really plays in its favor, however, is the 3D design of the taillights and the rounded nature of the rear deck, the latter of which is lightly emphasized by the very thin spoiler sitting on top. The presence of the M logo here makes it easy to forget that the M340i isn’t a full-fledged M model, but when you look at the bottom of the rear fascia, it becomes more evident that this isn’t the sportiest model in the lineup. The rear insert at the bottom of the fascia as far from sporty and the lightly accent fake vents in the corner of the fascia really don’t help in the looks department either.

2019 BMW M340i - Driven Exterior
- image 863110
Overall, the M340i is rather sporty and attractive, and it can be easy to forget that it’s not a full-fledged M model from certain angles.

From other angles, however, it’s rather easy to tell that this is just a glorified version of the base model 3. Now, should it be considered a budget-conscious M3? In the looks department, it does present a strong argument, but there’s a lot more to the M340i than just appearance.

BMW M340i exterior dimensions
Length 185.7
Width 71.9
Height 56.4
Wheelbase 112.2
Front Track 62.2
Rear Track 61.8
Curb Weight 3849

How Big is the 2020 BMW M340i?

The 2020 BMW M340i measures 185.7-inches long, 71.9-inches wide, and 56.4-inches tall. That makes it marginally larger than the Mercedes-AMG CLA45 and just a bit smaller than the Audi S5 Sportback, with the exception of height in which the M340i is 1.9-inches taller than the S5 Sportback. The M340i also has a longer wheelbase than either model at 112.2-inches, almost six inches longer than the CLA45 and one inch longer than the S5 – something that should translate into better driving dynamics. In terms of garage storage, the M340i will fit in a longer one-car garage, but we wouldn’t recommend it. A 1.5-car garage should be your minimum if you’re considering an M340i, simply because it’ll give you a little more space and you won’t have to get so close to the rear wall to close the front door.

BMW M340i vs competition - exterior dimensions
BMW M340i Mercedes-AMG CLA 45 Audi S5 Sportback
Length 185.7 184.7 187.1
Width 71.9 70 72.6
Height 56.4 55.7 54.5
Wheelbase 112.2 106.3 111.2
Front Track 62.2 61.2 62.5
Rear Track 61.8 61.4 61.7

2020 BMW M340i Interior Design

  • Spacious for a model this size
  • Segment leading rear passenger room
  • More cargo room than CLA
  • S5 has more cargo room
  • Comfortable and supportive seats
  • Rear passengers need more support
  • Lots of leather
  • Some cheap plastic trim
  • Great infotainment system
  • Great digital instrument cluster
2019 BMW M340i - Driven Interior
- image 862736
The interior of the BMW M340i effectively blends together sports car styling with family car styling, but only to a certain extent as it’s also clear that it’s not a full-fledged sports car of M car.

Interior materials are up to par with what you’d expect of a $54,000 ($56,000 with xDrive) car. And, there’s a lot of nice leather surfaces too – not the kind of leather you’d find in a model from Bentley or Rolls-Royce, but it’s of fairly good quality. Surfaces covered in leather include the top part of the dash, the center console, the seats, and the door trim panels. And, despite all the leather, there’s also a lot of plastic surfaces as well. These can be found around the speakers and along the bottom of the door trim panels, the bezels around the center console and the bezels on the front of the dash.

2019 BMW M340i - Driven Interior
- image 862738

On that note, the overall design of the interior is quite attractive. The dash does feel like it’s missing a wing as there is no way that BMW could have allowed the central trim piece – the one around the center vents – to carry over to the driver’s side as well. The design of the trim on the center console and lid is attractive, although it does have a cheap-ish feel to it – something that it has in common with the analog radio controls and HVAC controls. The way the front HVAC system is built into the central vents is a nice touch, however, it feels like BMW was attempting to cut corners by keeping the HVAC display small. A better route here would have been to integrate this into the infotainment system above, but maybe that’ll happen on the next-gen model.

2019 BMW M340i - Driven Interior
- image 862627

The automatic gear shifter on our tester had a nice feel, and it almost makes up for the fact that it didn’t have a manual transmission thanks to the manual shift mode. From this central point of the car, you can control all driving modes, adaptive model, auto high beams, and a few other features, including the parking brake and engine start\stop functionality. Having these controls here is a nice move on BMW’s part as it makes the steering wheel, the dash ahead of the driver, and the stalks behind the wheel less cluttered. The downside is that all of the buttons have that cheap plastic feel and, if you use them a lot, we reckon the lettering will begin wear off it a few years.

2019 BMW M340i - Driven Interior
- image 862611
Rear passengers are treated to an upper-mid-class level of comfort and amenities.

There are no built-in displays back here or anything of that nature. But, the rear seats are rather comfortable with decent legroom – much more than that offered by the CLA45 but about on par with the S5 Sportback. Rear passengers to get their own HVAC controls and, oddly enough, a large HVAC display than you find in the front. There are also two USB charging ports and a 12-Volt plug for other accessories. The downside here is that the rear portion of the center console feels like cheap GM plastic and, we believe, it will likely create rattles a few years down the road. We didn’t experience that during our test drive but our tester was still relatively new.

2019 BMW M340i - Driven Interior
- image 862610

The cool thing about the rear of the interior is the ambient lighting strip on the door trim panels and the pull-down armrest that is available when you’re only riding two deep back there. That pull-down armrest isn’t really anything to write home about, but it does have a cool, split door open that grants access to a pair of cup holders. The downside is that the doors actually remain upright when open as opposed so sinking into the armrest, but they do serve as support for taller cups, which is a huge plus considering the M340i may be the victim of some spirited driving form time to time. Keep in mind, however, that while to cupholders offer plenty of support, the rear seats are a completely different story. They are comfortable, no doubt, but there’s nowhere near enough support to keep rear passengers in place should you decide to straighten some bends with a quickness.

2019 BMW M340i - Driven Interior
- image 862608
2019 BMW M340i - Driven Interior
- image 862609
2019 BMW M340i - Driven Interior
- image 862605
BMW M340i - interior dimensions
Front Headroom 38.7
Front Shoulder Room 56
Front Legroom 42
Rear Headroom 37.6
Rear Shoulder room 54.6
Rear Legroom 35.2

How Much Interior Space Does the BMW M340i Have?

The BMW M340i offers up decent interior space for a model this size. You’ll find that front passengers have plenty of room and, while rear passengers don’t get quite as much, it’s relatively ample, especially compared to the CLA45. Both headroom and Shoulder Room drop only marginally from front to rear, but legroom is reduced from 42 inches to just 35.2 in the back. It’s still not bad for a model this size, and impressively more than the CLA45’s offering of just 27.1 inches – trust us, you don’t want to be a rear passenger in the CLA45; it’s like riding super economy on an international flight. On that note, the M340i’s interior space is largely comparable to that of the Audi S5, which does offer a little more headroom in the front but fall just marginally short in other areas.

BMW M340i vs competition - interior dimensions
BMW M340i Mercedes-AMG CLA 45 Audi S5 Sportback
Front Headroom 38.7 38.2 39.4
Front Shoulder Room 56 56 55.7
Front Legroom 42 40.2 41.3
Rear Headroom 37.6 35.4 37
Rear Shoulder room 54.6 53.2 54.5
Rear Legroom 35.2 27.1 35.1

How Much Cargo Room does the 2020 BMW M340i Have?

2019 BMW M340i - Driven Interior
- image 862604

With the rear seatbacks in place, the BMW M340i offers up 17 cubic-feet of storage space. It’s not a lot, but we’re not talking about a wagon or SUV here. If you lay down the rear seatbacks, you do have a lot more. As is the trend here, the M340i offers a lot more cargo room than the CLA 45, beating it out by 8.1 cubic-feet. The Audi S5, however, takes home the cake and enjoys a big piece of it too with a minimum cargo rating of 21.8 cubic-feet.

2019 BMW M340i - Driven Interior
- image 862602

2020 BMW M340i Drivetrain and Performance

  • 3.0-liter Inline-Six
  • 382 Horsepower
  • 369 LB-FT of torque
  • RWD or xDrive AWD available
  • 4.2-seconds to 60 mph
  • More powerful than AMG CLA 45
  • More powerful than Audi S5
  • Slow to 60 mph than CLA 45
  • Up to 30 mpg on the highway
2019 BMW M340i - Driven Drivetrain
- image 862697
Under the long hood of the BMW M340i sits a 3.0-liter inline-six that’s good for 382 horsepower and 369 pound-feet of torque.

On paper representation food chain, the BMW M340i sits at the top, beating out the CLA 45 7 horsepower and 19 pound-feet and the S5 by an impressive 33 ponies. The Audi S5 manages to tie the M340i in the torque department with 369 pound-feet.

These power output figures are only part of the story, though, as weight plays a major role here – the reason why the M340i isn’t the fastest to 60 mph. It’s close, but with the M340i tipping the scales at 3,849 pounds, the CLA is significantly lighter at just 3,450 pounds. The S5 is actually the heaviest of the three at 3,923 pounds. So, how does that translate to performance? Well, the BMW M340i can walk to 60 mph in 4.2 seconds, but the CLA will beat it there by one-tenth of a second (4.1 seconds). The S5 gets left behind and won’t cross the same benchmark until 4.7 seconds have passed. All three models, naturally, top out at 155 mph.

In standard form, the BMW M340i comes standard with power sent to the rear wheels only. If you pony up an extra $2,000, you can upgrade to the xDrive model that sends power to all four wheels. Meanwhile, the CLA 45 and S5, come standard with all-wheel drive. Shifting duties are handled by automatic transmissions across the board with the M340i and S5 offering up eight gears while the CLA45 offers a seven-speed automatic. All three models offer a superior driving dynamic in their own way, and all feature four-wheel independent suspension and electric power steering.

2020 BMW M340i Fuel Economy

2019 BMW M340i - Driven Drivetrain
- image 862685

The BMW M340i is rated at 22 mpg in the city, 30 mpg on the highway, and 25 mpg combined. The CLA matches the M340i on the highway but beats the M340i by one mpg in the city and combined driving. The S5 Sportback, on the other hand, falls one mpg short of the M340i in the city and during combined driving but does manage the same 30 mpg on the highway. In our testing, the BMW M340i managed to attain around 27 mpg during our various driving situations which is quite admirable given its EPA ratings.

BMW M340i vs competition - fuel economy
City Highway Combined
BMW M340i 22 30 25
Mercedes-AMG CLA 45 23 30 26
Audi S5 Sportback 21 30 24

How Fast is the 2020 BMW M340i?

2019 BMW M340i - Driven Exterior
- image 862727

The 2020 BMW M340i can hit 60 mph in 4.2 seconds on the way to an electronically limited top speed of 155 mph. This comes courtesy of a 3.0-liter inline-six that’s tuned to deliver 382 horsepower and 369 pound-feet. Power is sent to the rear wheels in standard form, but if you upgrade to the XDrive model, you’ll welcome all-wheel-drive functionality.

BMW M340i specifications
Engine 3.0-liter, inline six 
Transmission 8HP Sport automatic
Power Output 382 HP @ 5,000 – 6,500 RPM
Torque 369 LB-FT @ 1,600 – 4,500 RPM
Driveline Rear wheel drive
Fuel Gas
Fuel Capacity 15.6
Fuel Economy 22/30/25
0-60 mph 4.2
Top Speed 155

2020 BMW M340i Driving Impressions

  • Handling worthy of the M badge
  • Spunky when you want it to be
  • Comfortable and supportive up front
  • Rear passengers need more support
  • Needs to be pushed hard to feel its specialness
2019 BMW M340i - Driven Exterior
- image 862680

So, what’s it like to drive the BMW M340i? Well, it’s sort of a mixed bag, to be honest. We came into our tester for the first time thinking that it would be a budget M3 and, at first, it does kind of feel that way. In the right conditions, the chassis feels thoroughbred, steering is sharp and predictable with good feedback, and you can even kick out the rear end on hard corner exits without feeling like you’re losing control. In this way, it’s clear that there is some M Sport DNA built into the M340i.

As we continued driving the M340i, however, we began to realize that the M340i isn’t a whole-hearted replacement for or a budget M3.

The B58 under the hood does sound better than even the S55 in the M2 Competition, but the truth is that the M340i is far from an M3. It’s more like a base 3 Series that’s been tuned to deliver a gran touring driving experience. It is fast; there’s no denying that, but it’s also smooth like luxury car should be. And, while it does offer a luxurious drive, the chassis and steering are more weighted and more communicative than the lesser 330i.

2019 BMW M340i - Driven Exterior
- image 862664

The real downside to the M340i is that you really have to push it to the limit – way beyond the legal limit – to understand just how capable it really is. It’s great for track day if you don’t want to spend the money on a full-blown M3, despite not being as fast or track-tuned, but as far as street use is concerned, it’s hard to recognize that it’s more than the standard 330 without really getting into it. To be honest, the M340i isn’t the halfway house to the M3 that we (or probably you) thought it would be. It feels more like a regular BMW during normal driving than it does an M product, and that weighs in as both its downfall and appeal.

The extra luxury and power are there, but one could argue that you might as well go for the full-fledged M3 when it becomes available in the next year or so assuming that the price is within range.

With the M2 Competition commanding around $59,000 and the M4 commanding around $70,000, the upcoming BMW M3 needs to be Priced in the $63,000 ballpark, and it might be a worthy price to pay for full-on M specification.

2020 BMW M340i Pricing

2019 BMW M340i - Driven Exterior
- image 862720

The 3 Series lineup currently consists of 2 different models or 4 models if you count the XDrive variations as their own standalone models like BMW does. The 330i starts out at $40,750 with the 330i xDrive commanding $42,750. If you want the M340i, the next model up the food chain, you’ll have to pony out a shock-inducing $54,000, some $12,000 more than the 330i with xDrive. Opting for the M240i xDrive will cost you $2,000 more at $56,000. When the next-gen M3 becomes available, we’re expecting pricing somewhere in the range of $63,000, which would put it right in the middle of the current M2 Competition and M4. Compared to the competition, the all-new M340i is actually more expensive than the CLA 45, which starts out at $53,100 and the Audi S5 Sportback, which starts out at $52,400.

2020 BMW M340i vs. the Competition

Mercedes-AMG CLA 45

left right

The second-generation Mercedes CLA was just introduced for the 2019 model year, so the next-gen CLA 45 has yet to make its introduction. We expect that to happen by mid-2020 at the latest, but for now, we have to focus on the current model that was last updated in 2017. Be that as it may, we don’t expect the next-generation CLA 45 to differ all that much from the current model, and it will still be powered by a 2.0-liter four-cylinder, however, it could be tuned to deliver just a little bit more than the current model’s 375 horsepower and 350 pound-feet of torque. In its current iteration, it’s capable of hitting 60 mph in 4.1 seconds and is limited to 155 mph at the top end.

left right

The CLA 45 is a die-hard competitor for the M340i, despite the fact that it’s billed as a coupe with four doors. This is only possible because of the M340i’s sporty roof structure and the fact that it’s about as close to a four-door coupe as you can get this low in BMW’s lineup. The CLA 45 in its current form is $900 cheaper than the M340i, and it’s a tenth of a second quicker, but it isn’t without its downfalls, either. Compared to the M340i, the CLA 45 has less passenger room all of the way around from the amount of headroom down the line, with the exception of front shoulder room, which comes in at the same 56 inches. Rear passengers really feel the pinch, quite literally, with legroom being laughable at just 27.1 inches. Cargo room is also subpar with the CLA offering just 13.1 cubic-feet with the rear seatback in place.

left right
BMW M340i vs Mercedes-AMG CLA45
BMW M340i Mercedes-AMG CLA 45
Engine 3.0-liter, inline six  2.0-litre 4 in-line 
Transmission 8HP Sport automatic 7-speed automated manual
Power Output 382 HP @ 5,000 – 6,500 RPM 375 hp @ 6000 rpm
Torque 369 LB-FT @ 1,600 – 4,500 RPM 350 ft-lbs. @ 2250 rpm
Driveline Rear wheel drive All wheel drive
Fuel Gas Gas
Fuel Capacity 15.6 14.8
Fuel Economy 22/30/25 23/30/26
0-60 mph 4.2 4.1
Top Speed 155 155

Audi S5 Sportback

left right

Audi introduced the second-generation A5 after nine very long years, and it followed suit with the S5 in 2017. Now, considering the S5 is based on a model that’s creeping up on four years old as of 2020, the S5 is still relatively fresh, and you can thank that to the fact that it features Audi’s latest (and greatest) grille design in all its history. This means that the current S5 is wider and has a lower hood than ever before. The front end, in general, is sportier than ever and even features some aggressive design cues. The rear end is largely attractive too, thanks for that coupe-like roof – the whole reason that Audi calls it a “Sportback.”

left right

Of the three models we’ve discussed here, the Audi S5 is the cheapest at $52,400, some $1,600 cheaper than the new M340i. However, it only offers 349 horsepower and 369 pound-feet of torque, something that’s only good enough for a 4.7-second sprint to 60 mph. So, it offers the same amount of torque but less horsepower. It is comparable in size to the M340i, both inside and out, though, so it does have that going for it. One could argue that its luxury appointments are fairly on point in comparison, but the seats aren’t quite as supportive and you don’t feel the get-up-and-go like you do in the M340i. There is one trade-off to the S5, though. That $52,400 starting price I mentioned – that’s only good enough to get you in the door. If you want the Premium Plus trim , with the Audi Virtual Cockpit, MMI Navigation, and added safety technology. That one will set you back by $55,300 while the Prestige trim with the B&O sound system, even more safety goodies, and better materials will set you back $59,000 with no performance gains whatsoever.

BMW M340i vs Audi S5 Sportback
BMW M340i Audi S5 Sportback
Engine 3.0-liter, inline six  3.0-liter turbocharged TFSI V-6
Transmission 8HP Sport automatic 8-speed shiftable automatic
Power Output 382 HP @ 5,000 – 6,500 RPM 349 hp @ 5400 rpm
Torque 369 LB-FT @ 1,600 – 4,500 RPM 369 ft-lbs. @ 1370 rpm
Driveline Rear wheel drive All wheel drive
Fuel Gas Gas
Fuel Capacity 15.6 15.3
Fuel Economy 22/30/25 21/30/24
0-60 mph 4.2 4.7
Top Speed 155 155

Final Thoughts

2019 BMW M340i - Driven Exterior
- image 862744

The BMW M340i is a strong proposition in the mid-performance niche – an area where luxury and performance blend together to offer the best of both worlds. None of these cars are stupid fast, but they are luxurious and quick, all in a reasonably affordable price bracket that can give you a taste of the best without letting you indulge in the whole peanut butter jar. Overall, we’re quite impressed with the M340i and, to be honest, it was hard to write up a down-to-earth review after just spending a week with the Ford Mustang GT, but after driving the M340i for so long, we found our hearts desiring more of the M340i. So much more, that one could say we’re itching to give the M3 a try because if the M340i is this good – despite the fact that it didn’t live up to our initial expectations – the M3 has to be downright amazing. Is the BMW M340i right for you? Well, it really depends on what you want out of a car. If you want absolute performance, then you should probably wait for the M3, but if you want a car that can perform when needed but serve as a great, luxurious family car too, then the M340i will fit the bill perfectly.

  • Leave it
    • Isn’t the perfect budget M3
    • Could get expensive with options
    • You need to break the law to feel how special it really is

Further reading

The 2019 BMW 3 Series Comes to Paris with a Lighter Footprint, Wider Track, and Longer Wheelbase
- image 798091

Read our full review on the 2020 BMW 3 Series.

Philippe Daix
Philippe Daix
Obsessive and Compulsive Automotive Expert -
Always on the lookout for the latest automotive news, Philippe Daix is our most senior editor and founder of He likes to see himself as a consumer advocate with a mission to educate motorheads of all ages.  Read full bio
About the author
What do you think?
Show Comments
Car Finder: