Words & Photos: Kevin C. Limjoco
Last September BMW quietly released the updated LCI (Life Cycle Impulse) versions of their best-selling F30 3-series to enhance and extend the model range much like they did in the previous E90 5th generation model. Unlike the treatments done before though, the aesthetic alterations are not as obvious. The bumpers are different even if the changes seem imperceptible. For example, the front bumper has slightly revised intake openings to complement the more chunky face, and the rear design nuances which give the car a sense of wider girth are even less noticeable.
At a quick glance even some current 3-series owners may miss the subtle headlight and rear light assembly design changes as well. Once you do figure out that there are differences though, they stick with you and you can’t go back! Why? Not only are the new lights more effective, they do look better especially with the full LED headlight option that comes standard on the new top range 340i, which so happens to be our test unit. If the new headlights look familiar, it’s because their design is very similar to the units on the already updated faces of its larger brothers. The reshaped rear LED lighting design is unique and attractive. In the interior, there is a bit more metallic treatments, a broader ambient lighting system, and updated infotainment systems. Getting past all that, the real profound changes occur mechanically, where it counts most, this is BMW’s bread-and-butter after all!
Our test unit was the new BMW 340i Sport coupled to a Getrag 6-speed manual for maximum tangibility with the additional bonus of automatic rev-matching. You might think that the new 340i designation is simply renaming a further boosted N55 3.0-liter turbo engine from the previous 335i, which BMW could have easily done without any complaints from us consumers, but there is much more to the all-new B58 with the same 3.0-liter displacement. All the powerplants of the LCI 3-series have been changed with the addition of the 330e plug-in hybrid, belonging to BMW’s new portfolio of modular EfficientDynamics engines, which stretches from three to six cylinders and includes the diesels.
The 340i is the lone turbocharged inline-6 left in the stable. The steering has been retuned for even more pronounced feel and precision. The suspension has also been redesigned with optimized front strut towers, new rear damper technology, five (up from three) suspension anchor points and the Dynamic Stability Control has also been recalibrated. The result of all that combined with a very healthy power upgrade of 24 bhp and 37 lb-ft over an even wider powerband creates a compact sports sedan truly without equal.
Engine: Inline-6, 2998 cc, dohc 24V, Valvetronic, Bi-VANOS, Direct Injection Intercooled Turbo, 6-Speed MT
Max power: 326 bhp @ 5500-6500 rpm
Max torque: 332 lb ft @ 1380-5000 rpm
0-100 km/h (0-62mph): 5.0 sec.
Top Speed: 250 km/h (155 mph) Governed
Fuel Mileage: 22 mpg City / 33 mpg Highway
Price as tested: US$ 53,395.00
+The premium compact sports sedan standard
-Flawless, the 8-speed AT is even quicker!
C! Editor’s Rating: 10/10