As a brand, I have to admit that BMW has grown on me over the last few years. Where the company really shines is in its luxury sedans and when you take the very latest design and add M-Series upgrades, it’s a formidable combination that reveals why they are considered some of the best luxury sedans on the market. Designers like to work on the top-end models, often leaving the more entry-level configurations a bit stagnant, but the 340 line had a major update coming into the 2023 model year, and I’m glad to report that the 2023 BMW M340i xDrive Sedan I drove for a week lived up to the hype and expectations, offering a comfortable and highly responsive drive experience.
Even better, it’s what the company calls a “mild hybrid system” which offers a bump in fuel efficiency, delivering 23/32 according to the EPA. I saw about 31mpg with my driving – in frigid temperatures – and was very pleased to get above the mid-20s that so many vehicles seem to be trapped in if not an EV or PHEV. Before I go further, I do have to say that the weather was a significant factor in this week of driving; there were days that didn’t get above 3ºF and there wasn’t a single day that there wasn’t snow or ice on the ground, as you’ll see in my photos. The M340i handled it all very well, rather to my surprise. It’s not AWD, it’s a rear-wheel drive, making that even more surprising.
To start, an exterior photo of the M340i in Tanzanite Blue II Metallic. It’s subtle (and a $1500 upcharge) and in some photos almost looks black:
There’s not much that’s changed in the exterior design versus previous years of the 340 line, but a few subtle changes might be noted: The headlights are a bit slimmer, more like the 5-series, and the adaptive LEDs have a tiny blue or black stripe inside. This is a beloved design and while it’s not quite as eye-catching as some of the more forward-leaning BMW sedans, it’s still solid and attractive.
Climbing into the driver’s seat, the dash is very well laid out:
The iDrive controls dominate the center console, but what’s most noticeable is the stunning curved display which offers a fantastic Apple CarPlay or Android Auto experience, but also works great even if you just have your phone connected via Bluetooth:
The display screen really is stunning and plenty big enough for even the most enthusiastic information consumer. Vehicles like the Tesla might have taller displays, but personally, I don’t want to use a touchscreen for every single control, I actually prefer having physical knobs and controls to manage things. Climate control? Spinning a knob while driving in the fast lane seems a lot safer than having to glance at a display screen to see exactly what I’m doing, don’t you think?
There’s something else interesting about the interior: The steering wheel has a classic BMW emblem, but the model I had included an upgrade to the Mission: Impossible-esque 50th Anniversary emblem, which appears on the rear of the M340i for 2023:
It’s quite a cool emblem and is worth keeping an eye out for with other BMW vehicles you see on the road. Worth the additional charge? Depends on how much you’re a fan of the brand, I suspect, but yeah, I’d get it if I was buying this sedan.
Back to the interior of the vehicle, however. The center console features the iDrive control system and it’s a real pleasure to use while zipping down the highway:
Note: The xDrive system is a computer system that monitors each wheel’s activity and balances energy distribution to give you the best possible drive experience. The iDrive system is the multifunction control knob and buttons in the center console that lets the driver easily manage everything on the information display. I get them confused too.
Notice that there’s no shifter, just a little protrusion you move forward or backward to switch from R-N-D. Park is accessed through the separate “P” button, which takes a bit of getting used to when first driving. There are also three drive modes: Sport, Comfort, and Eco Pro (well, four, if you count Auto H). I generally drive in Eco Pro or Comfort and even in those more fuel-efficient modes, the drive experience was excellent, very BMW “ultimate driving machine”.
Heck, even the speed display is exciting and reminiscent of a jet aircraft:
Do you need a tachometer in an 8-speed automatic? Of course not. But is it a really cool display that’s fun to view? You can see for yourself, it’s one of the most attractive dashboards of any car I’ve test driven in the last few years!
How about passenger comfort? Well, the M340i has decent rear legroom, but it is on the smaller side of the BMW sedan lineup, so it’s not a complete surprise that an adult rear passenger might ask for the front seat to slide up just a bit:
BMW’s answer to this particular issue would probably be “yeah, you might need a bigger sedan. Like a 5-series…”, which is fair given this is listed as a “compact sports sedan” on their site.
Stepping outside of the vehicle, it’s a sedan so it has a trunk. Inside there’s actually a fair amount of room for suitcases, groceries, sports equipment, or your gear for the next sales call:
Amusingly, the tag explains that the vehicle was equipped with a “wave foot to open” feature for the trunk that I never did get to work. Perhaps it was simply user error and there is a remote trunk open button, so I didn’t find it a big deal, but maybe have the dealer demo this feature when you take delivery! Note also that the rear seat can be folded down in sections, 40/40/20. Handy if you want to slip some skis through for transport (though I’d suggest a roof rack would be easier).
Finally, the exterior from the rear again shows off that 50th-anniversary emblem:
Notice that from this angle, there’s more of a classic BMW forward-leaning appearance, the sense that the vehicle is ready to leap onto the road and take you to your destination with speed and style. It’s a beautiful car, no question.
But what about that driving experience? There’s no way around it, this 2023 BMW M340-i with xDrive offers a splendid drive experience with massive amounts of power on demand and an overall smooth and quiet experience. Interestingly, the engine originates in Austria and the transmission in Germany, though the vehicle itself was assembled in San Luis Potosi, Mexico, with 7% US/Canadian parts and 15% Mexican parts. A very international vehicle, no question!
As a taller driver (6’3″) who is less lithe than I was 20 years ago, I found getting into and out of the low-slung sedan was awkward, much preferring the vehicle entering experience of SUVs like the BMW X3 [see my writeup]. But that’s my only complaint. Once in the vehicle, the design, comforts, and drive experience all shine in this very worthy addition to the BMW sedan lineup. Definitely recommended.
2023 BMW M340i xDrive Sedan in Tanzanite Blue II Metallic with 8-speed automatic. BASE PRICE: $56,650.00. OPTIONS INCLUDED: Premium color, interior leather, driving assistance package, shadowline package, parking assistance package, premium package, remote start system, 19″ wheels, adaptive M-series suspension, 8-speed sport auto transmission, 50-year emblem, wireless device charging, Harmon-Kardon surround sound. AS DRIVEN: $67,170.00.
Disclosure: BMW loaned me the M340i for a week in return for this candid review. Thanks, BMW!