While the M340i will surely be outclassed by the full-fat M3 when it eventually arrives, the car represents the pinnacle of the ‘regular’ 3 Series range.
The key figures are impressive, with 275kW and 500Nm propelling the car to 100km/h in 4.4 seconds. That’s a decent improvement over the outgoing M340i’s 240kW/450Nm and 5.2 second 0-100km/h sprint.
BMW claims the power bump is thanks to “a newly developed” engine, which follows the tried and true 3.0-litre straight-six turbo format that is becoming as iconic as the company’s kidney grill design. The engine is mated to an eight-speed automatic gearbox.
Read next: 2018 Los Angeles Auto Show: what to expect
Unfortunately for Australians it remains uncertain that the M340i will be available in rear-drive guise. As standard, the M340i will be fitted with BMW’s xDrive system, delivering power to all four corners.
Wheels spoke to a BMW Australia spokesperson, who confirmed the local launch line-up for the 3 Series would consist of the 320d and 330i, with the M340i joining later in 2019.
The spokesperson explained that the M340i will initially be available in all-wheel-drive xDrive form initially, while a business case for a rear-drive variant is evaluated on the proviso that it is available to the company.
Along with the higher engine tune, the M340i will also feature 18-inch alloy wheels, more luxurious interior trim, and aggressive exterior styling. Australia-specific spec is yet to be confirmed.
When it does arrive on Australian shores, the BMW’s main rivals will be the Audi S4 and Mercedes-AMG C43.
The all-paw 2019 C43 produces 287kW and 520Nm from a twin-turbo V6, which is good for a 4.7 second 0-100km/h spring. We’ll be sure to put both BMW’s and Mercedes-AMG’s claims to the test with independent performance testing when we get our hands on them locally.
A facelifted A4 is expected to arrive in Australia early next year, while the current S4 produces 260kW and 500Nm from a turbocharged V6, and can sprint to 100km/h in 4.7 seconds.
As an aside, let’s take a moment as enthusiasts to revel in the fact that the ‘baby’ performance sedans from Audi, BMW and Mercedes-AMG can all cut sub 5.0 second 0-100km/h times.
The M340i is expected to launch internationally in the US and Europe in July 2019, while an Australian launch is slated for late 2019.