2016 BMW 340i xDrive: A rolling feast for the eyes and senses

13 Mar 2016 | 1,351 views | No Comment
By Don Hammonds One of life's great mysteries--at least to anyone who doesn't own a BMW--is why these cars are so treasured by auto enthusiasts and anyone else who ever touches one. [caption id="attachment_8096" align="alignnone" width="648"]All-new BMW X1 and 340i launch drive in Chihuahua, MX. All-new BMW X1 and 340i launch drive in Chihuahua, MX.[/caption] After years of driving them, I must say I'm at a loss to explain the whole mystique thing that these cars have going for them. I've decided that BMW products are far more than just sterling road going manners and thunderous performance and acceleration---both of which they possess in abundant amounts. No, it's also about the way everything is put together.  The BMW 340i xDrive 4 door sedan, which is the subject of this article, felt as one smooth unit. Nothing was out of sync with anything else. It's simply a smooth, well-oiled thrill ride. It's the little things, too that make a difference. The senses that flow through your hand when you touch any of the controls. They click, snick, tick or whatever else they are supposed to do with nary an interruption in the overall flow of things. While we are talking about the interior, I can say that the seats are clearly the most supportive that I have used in quite some time. They wrap firmly around you and there isn't any wiggle room. Yet they are enormously comfortable, and they hold you completely in place on sharp curves. [caption id="attachment_8097" align="aligncenter" width="648"]All-new BMW X1 and 340i launch drive in Chihuahua, MX. All-new BMW X1 and 340i launch drive in Chihuahua, MX.[/caption] And though all cars these days have a lot of computerized information to share with you, BMW is truly remarkable in this regard. If you don't use the electronic shifter correctly when changing gears, it tells you what to do. There's a detailed graphic of equipment on a cutaway illustration of the car on the screen so you can see what components in the car will be in use during each driving mode. The brakes are equally commendable. No fade, no grabbiness, just firm straight line performance with no dramatics. The only qualm I had was that the rear seat area felt somewhat cramped to me. Even the I-Drive, once a much feared navigation/entertainment and climate system, has long since become intuitive, requiring little more than a glance when you are ready to make a selection. And there really are no words to describe the steering. The steering wheel feels like it was attached to your hands permanently, and it goes exactly where you point it. Excellent. But you had better pay attention. This car, as do all BMWs, reacts quickly to your input. No wasted motion. No wasted effort. This is not a car that you simply sit there lazily. If you do, I have to ask "Why did you buy it?" It's meant to be driven. Vigorously. Our test model was the 340i xDrive--the suffix BMW uses with all of its all wheel drive models. For 2016, BMW is making a host of improvements and addition to their legendary 3Series models. The big news is the an all new inline 6-cylinder gasoline engine, producing 320 hp with 330 lb-ft of torque. Other changes include new front struts, new rear damper technology and redesigned electric power steering to enhance overall vehicle dynamics. The BMW 3 Series Sedan and BMW 3 Series Sports Wagon feature a sharper design and a sportier front, supported by the newly designed headlights with optional full-LED headlights (standard on 340i models). The rear view also cuts an even more dynamic figure thanks to its LED tail lights and sculptural, clearly defined lines. Standard equipment included  the all new 3.0 liter TwinPower turbo inline six cylinder engine with variable valve control, Driving Dynamics control with ECO Pro; comfort, sport and sport plus settings; an eight speed Sport Automatic transmission with automatic Sport and  manual shift modes and steering wheel mounted paddle shifters. Other standard features include Dynamic Stability Control, including Brake fade Compensation,   Start-off assistant,, brake drying and Brake Stand-by features. .Other standard items include Dynamic Traction Control, anti- lock brakes, Dynamic Brake Control and Cornering Brake Control and xDrive all- wheel drive system, LED headlights and LED fog lights, ten way power sports seats with four way lumbar support and drivers memory and an anthracite headliner. Base price is $47,800, pretty reasonable for what you get. But there's one problem. BMW puts its options in rather expensive packages, and in order to get the things you want, you are likely to have to accept some features that you likely would do without if you could. The bottom line is you have to be very careful before you order your car. Don't go crazy with the options. For instance, heated seats and  steering wheel are pretty much standard on most cars costing as much as this one, so are  automatic high beams. Not on this car. And the Technology Package costs $2550 large. By the time you add all these up, you are paying  $59,920. The combined fuel economy is rated at 26 miles per gallon,  with a rating of 22 mpg and 33 respectively. The government says you will spend $500 more over five years for gasoline than you would with most new cars. And annual fuel costs are $1,900 for this car based on 15,000 miles of driving annually on $3.30  a gallon gasoline. One thing of note: This BMW model uses the popular stop-start management system to help save on gasoline. When you lift your foot off the brake, the car starts instantly and you continue on. This system has been much improved with little to no jerking or shuddering, characteristics that some earlier BMW models we tested. The whole system is as smooth as butter now. Standard safety equipment includes front and rear head protection system, driver and passenger front airbag, supplemental restraint system, front and  rear head protection system, and seat mounted front side-impact bags. The  audio system is an excellent one--a Harmon Kardon SurroundSound Audio system which provided amazing sound. The 340i xDrive series sedan also comes with keyless entry, two way power glass moonroof, automatic dimming interior and exterior mirrors and rain sensing windshield wipers. After a week with this car, I still can't say I've cracked the mystique code for the BMW 340 I xDrive. BMW knows the code--clearly--and it's not telling. And that's the way it should be.  

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