The inevitable forward march of technological progress is once again making itself undeniably evident, this time in just how capable the new 3 Series is. Back in September we wrote about how the G20 330i is incredibly efficient at freeways speeds, sipping fuel to achieve a staggering 42 mpg at 75 mph according to Car and Driver. Now, the instrumented test for the G20 M340i, the most powerful 3 Series variant currently available, has been published, and the performance metrics are quite impressive.
As per Car and Driver‘s test results, the M340i, which weighs exactly 200 pounds more than the 2015 M3 they tested a few years back, can sprint from zero-to-60 in the same blistering 3.8 seconds. If you’re like me, you immediately suspected xDrive was to thank for the M340i matching the F80 M3 to 60, but the G20 tested was actually a rear-drive model, as xDrive remains optional.
Other figures are within spitting distance of the outgoing M3, with the M340i achieving 0.96 worth of roadholding ability around the skidpad, compared to the M3’s 0.99. While the S55 in the M3 makes 425 horsepower and 406 pound-feet of torque, the B58 six-cylinder of the M340i, even in M Performance trim, comes in at a serous deficit, developing 382 horsepower and 369 pound-feet. As you might expect, the M3 covers the quarter mile faster, in just 12.0 seconds at 119 mph, but the M340i isn’t far behind, clocking 12.3 seconds at 114 mph. Emergency braking from 70 mph to a dead stop takes 156 feet in the 3 Series, while the last-generation M car needs 153.
Of course, the G20 M340i does it all while achieving 23 mpg versus the M3’s 20, while curb weights were measured at 3,813 and 3,613 pounds respectively. The M3 has one more cubic foot of passenger room at 96 compared with 95, but the 3 Series boasts significantly more cargo room; 17 cubic feet as opposed to 12.
The upcoming G80 M3 is guaranteed to restore the proper order within the lineup, but the M340i drives a hard bargain, especially consider its base price which is about $10,000 less than what the F80 M3 started at when it was available. Performance plurality in the lineup like this has never happened before, but it should be noted that it usually doesn’t take long for the current 3 Series to catch up with the last-gen M3; the E46 330i, especially in ZHP form, remains an excellent competitor to the E36 M3, but today’s realm of blistering acceleration is a whole different ballgame.—Alex Tock
[Photos courtesy BMW AG.]