BMW introduced the seventh generation of its well-known 3 Series sedan last year, launching the car in as the volume-selling, four-cylinder 330i. This year, it follows up with the speedier M340i, a six-cylinder model that bridges the gap between the standard car and the track-oriented M3.
What's New / Key Changes from Last Year
Behind the M340i's new look is a new, more potent turbo six-cylinder generating 382 hp and 369 lb-ft, big increases over the 2019 340i's 320 hp and 330 lb-ft of torque. The new engine makes the 2020 M340i nearly as powerful as the outgoing M3.
The four-cylinder 330i is carried over from 2019.
BMW's 3 Series offerings begin with the 330i and its turbocharged four-cylinder engine, which makes 255 hp and 295 lb-ft of torque. Then comes the M340i with its aforementioned powerhouse of a six-cylinder. Both cars can be optioned with various standalone features and packages, which we'll detail shortly.
M340i comes either with rear- or all-wheel drive, and the 330i is standard with AWD. Both engines use an eight-speed automatic transmission with shift paddles standard in M340i and optional in the 330i.
BMW says a plug-in hybrid (PHEV) version called the 330e will come later in the 2020 model year.
The 2020 BMW 330i comes standard with 18-inch wheels, leatherette upholstery in black or beige, interior trim in gloss black or a wood-like finish, auto-dimming interior and side mirrors, a sunroof, LED headlights, heated and power-adjustable front sport seats with driver memory, a leather-trimmed steering wheel, forward collision warning with city-speed automatic braking, rear cross traffic alert, lane departure warning, front and rear parking sensors, rain-sensing wipers and rear collision prevention.
M340i models come with an M aerodynamics package, a rear spoiler, heated steering wheel, M Sport brakes and suspension, variable sport steering, automatic high beams, surround view exterior camera views, dynamic cruise control, M Sport differential and BMW's traffic jam assistant.
330i options include an advanced driver assist package (automatic high beams, parking assist with surround view, traffic jam assistant and driving assistant professional); an M Sport package (19-inch wheels, LED fog lights, M aero kit, M steering wheel and M Sport suspension and shift paddles); and a premium excellence package (leatherette dash trim, Vernasca leather seating, laserlight headlights, heated steering wheel and rear seats, ambient lighting, head-up display, wifi hot spot, passive keyless entry, a Harman/Kardon stereo, electric trunk opening and wireless smartphone charging). Essential and Enhanced premium packages bundle select items from the premium excellence package.
The M340i can be optioned with the enhanced and excellence versions of the premium package.
According to Natural Resources Canada's website, BMW never published fuel consumption figures for the 2019 330i, and as of this writing, hasn't provided estimates for the 2020 M340i either. The best we can do is tell you the outgoing four-cylinder/AWD powertrain was rated at 10.2/7.2 L/100 km (city/highway) and six-cylinder cars' estimates were 9.2/6.2 L/100 km with RWD and 12.1/8.1 with AWD. While we expect the new four-cylinder to be a little thriftier, the more potent six will likely match the old engine's consumption, at best.
There are many car makers that want a piece of the compact sport sedan segment that the 3 Series helped create. They include the usual German-built suspects like the Audi A4 and Mercedes-Benz C-Class. Japan's Lexus IS, Acura TLX and Infiniti Q50 also compete, along with Sweden's Volvo S60. The Genesis G70 is a solid attempt from South Korea and the Alfa Romeo Giulia comes from Italy by way of the brand's tie-up with Chrysler.
Cadillac will also soon have a new 3 Series competitor when its CT5 arrives in dealerships later in 2020.