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    New Five driven / G30 5 SERIES FIRST DRIVE

    Behind the wheel of the stunning 530d xDrive and #BMW-540i-M-Sport / #BMW-5-Series-G30 / #BMW-540i-M-Sport-G30

    BMW’s G30 5 Series has the weight of expectation on its sharp shoulders, but it shrugs it – and pretty much everything else – off with disdain. Words: Bob Harper. Photography: BMW

    The Business Behind the wheel of BMW’s awesome new #BMW-5-Series in 540i and #BMW-530d-xDrive guises.

    Now, I’m no fashion expert, but to my eyes, pairing a sharply tailored suit with a set of proper running shoes shouldn’t work, but that’s how BMW wants us to think of its new 5 Series, in its words, the ‘Business Athlete’. That’s effectively how BMW’s marketing bods have interpreted the message its engineers conveyed to us when we drove the pre-production G30 in Wales back in the October issue. The intention was to keep the F10’s comfort level but ramp up the driving dynamics to ensure the new 5 Series is the sportiest to drive option in the executive saloon class. Our first impressions then suggested the brief had been met and now, a few months later, we’re in Lisbon for the first test of the showroom-ready car just before it arrives in UK dealerships in February #2017 .

    We spent day one in the only diesel present, the 530d #xDrive , and without wishing to spoil the surprise, this really is all the car you could ever need or want (okay, maybe with the 2018 Touring body…). Nobody ever described the previous generation 530d as lacking in punch, yet BMW felt the need to turn the wick up a tad, so now there’s 265hp and 457lb ft on tap (gains of 7hp and 44lb ft respectively), and that torque figure comes on strong at just 2000rpm so there’s a real kick in the kidneys when you floor the throttle, regardless of the gear you’re in or the speed you’re already doing.

    Doing that from a standstill in the rear-drive 530d used to be met with a little shimmy from the rear and a blinking traction control light, regardless of conditions, but BMW is going large with xDrive all-wheel drive for the G30, offering it on virtually all models, and though you can still have a rear-drive 530d, we’d suggest it’s at its best with xDrive.

    Admittedly, those that are watching their emissions ratings won’t be enamoured by the higher figure (the 530d emits just 124g/km, but that rises to 138g/km with xDrive), but it makes for a more rewarding and capable car. Faster too. In spite of a 55kg weight penalty, the xDrive model gets off the line cleaner to record a 0-62mph time of 5.4 seconds – the reardrive car is 0.3 seconds slower. And those times were set in perfect conditions, so imagine how much of an advantage the xDrive version would have in the wet for the average driver.

    We didn’t need to imagine, as the skies opened at the launch later in the day, turning the Portuguese mountain roads into, well, Portuguese mountain streams. The 5 Series was relatively unfazed, quickly shuffling power between axles to keep us on the road.

    Earlier, on bone dry Tarmac, going back and forth through the same tight sequence of corners for photography, the 530d really showed its mettle. In these conditions it initially felt much like any rear-drive BMW, with strong front-end grip, decent steering weighting and great balance. Pushing a little harder and earlier on the throttle the minutest amount of slip could be detected at the rear before the electronics summoned the front axle’s help. Even then, the result was a smooth, fast exit from the corner, precisely on line and warranting a loosening of the lock, just as you would have done in a rear-drive car. Though much tidier. A little later on, through a well-sighted high-speed downhill section with a quick direction change, the 530d was sublimely balanced and surefooted.

    There was no unnerving obvious weight transfer across the car, just confidence-inspiring stability. And yet it was also a lot of fun. It must be pointed out at this stage that all test vehicles at the launch featured Integral Active Steering, which is BMW’s way of saying ‘rear-wheel steering’. At low speeds, this steers the rear wheels in the opposite direction to the front wheels to aid agility while cornering and manoeuvrability while parking, while turning the rear wheels in the same direction as the front ones at high speeds to aid stability. For the first time in a 5 Series, this system can be paired with xDrive four-wheel drive and it certainly helps make the car shrink around you on a twisty road. The standard electromechanical power steering features a variable steering ratio, too.

    Our test cars were also equipped with Adaptive Drive, combining Dynamic Damper Control with Dynamic Drive active roll stabilisation. This uses electric swivel motors to change the anti-roll bar stiffness, quickly reacting to cornering forces and massively reducing body lean, while allowing a more comfortable setup in the straights. The base characteristics of the dampers are tied into the Driving Experience Control switch, but the good news here is that, even in Sport mode, we had no complaint about ride comfort. And we traversed plenty of poor road surfaces. What was more impressive over bumps and badly maintained patches of concrete was the refinement. We reckon this is where BMW has made its biggest improvements. Low tyre roar and road noise worked with remarkably good wind and engine noise suppression to help this 5 Series do a good impression of its big brother, the 7 Series.

    And clearly BMW’s designers have aligned the new Five with the Seven in design terms, inside and out. The new Five’s cabin is sublime in its fit and finish in particular, with highlights including the gorgeous climate control switchgear. The interior is only a little more spacious than before, however. A less bulkylooking dashboard helps it feel roomier and that’s thanks to the new widescreen infotainment display adopted from the 7 Series. It’s actually more sophisticated in the Five and you can operate it using voice, touch, the rotary iDrive controller, or even gesture. We couldn’t really see the point of the latter given that most functions it allows can be done just as easily from the (new and shapely) steering wheel, but no doubt it will develop as a technology and this is just the first step. Of more use from the start is a much larger and crisper head-up display system. On the outside, we reckon that the 5 Series is the better proportioned car. Put it next to the old one and it dates it horribly, making it look bulbous and flabby in contrast to the G30’s newfound litheness. The overall dimensions are increased only marginally, but details like the coming together of bonnet, lights and kidney grilles up front, the Air Breathers at the side and the longer, slimmer rear lamps all help the new 5 Series look leaner and more purposeful. Saying that, the dark grey hue of the test cars, allied with relatively high-profile tyres and the modest Luxury Line specification, doesn’t make the design pop. If you want a subtle 5 Series, then this is the way to order it.

    But most British buyers prefer the sportier appearance of the M Sport models and it does wonders for the shape of the car. We spent day two in a 540i M Sport in white with black wheels and it looks much more purposeful. Though the 540i will be sold exclusively in xDrive guise in the UK, we only got to test the rear-drive version in Portugal. The turbocharged 3.0-litre petrol engine is the same as the gem that debuted on the new 340i, using a single twin-scroll turbocharger to produce 340hp and 332lb ft of torque, the latter all the way from 1380 to 5200rpm.

    In spite of the higher power output and a significant 100kg weight advantage over the xDriveequipped 530d, this 540i didn’t turn out to be the sporty option we expected. Sure, it’s quick by any measure, and wonderfully slop-free in its responses to braking, turning and accelerating, but you get the feeling that this particular model was developed first and foremost for comfort and refinement. The straight-six is creamy smooth, but you won’t buy it for its aural pleasures, as it’s just too quiet, even in Sport+ mode at high revs. On top of that, it’s all too easy to spin up one of the rear wheels when pulling out of a tight junction, which isn’t very satisfying – though, of course, xDrive should eradicate that. As we’ve come to expect from BMW’s excellent automatic gearboxes, the standard eight-speed Steptronic transmission makes it all too easy to extract the most from the engine and it’s perfectly judged as ever, whether you’re pootling around in Eco Pro mode or you’ve slotted the lever across into its Sport gate or you take over control of the shifts with the (new and rather more tactile) paddles behind the steering wheel. Nonetheless, the 540i should be bought if you want an effortlessly fast 5 Series that majors on refinement and quietness and you don’t want a diesel. Keener drivers will have to wait for more.

    And while #BMW tantalisingly dangled the M550i xDrive in front of our faces, with vital stats to make the outgoing M5 look a little limp-wristed, it’s not due to go on sale in the UK. There will be a new M5, of course, probably arriving here in #2018 , and all the signs are that it will feature xDrive four-wheel drive. But before that, there’s still much to discover about the G30 5 Series, starting with the 520d model and soon after that the ultra-efficient #BMW-520d-EfficientDynamics-G30 with emissions as low as 102g/km. We’re also rather keen to test one of those in finished format on the standard ‘comfort’ suspension, or the lowered M Sport suspension as most British buyers specify the car.

    Everything we’ve seen so far suggests that it won’t let business men and women of the world down. Even those that don’t wear running shoes to work.

    Even in Sport mode we had no complaint about ride comfort.

    TECHNICAL DATA #BMW-G30 / #BMW-530d / #BMW-530d-G30 / #BMW-530d-xDrive-G30
    ENGINE: Six-cylinder, 24-valve / BMW B57D30 / BMW-B57 / B57
    CAPACITY: 2993cc
    MAX POWER: 265hp @ 4000rpm
    MAX TORQUE: 457lb ft @ 2000-2500rpm
    0-62MPH: 5.7 seconds (5.4)
    TOP SPEED: 155mph (155)
    ECONOMY: 60.1mpg (53.2)
    EMISSIONS: 124g/km (138)
    PRICE (SE): £43,835 (£45,965)
    PRICE (M SPORT): £47,135 (£49,265)
    Figures in brackets refer to xDrive model

    The new Five’s cabin is sublime in its fit and finish, with highlights including the gorgeous climate control switchgear

    TECHNICAL DATA #BMW-G30 / #BMW-540i-xDrive / #BMW-540i-xDrive-G30 / #BMW-540i-G30 /
    ENGINE: Six-cylinder, 24-valve / #B58B30 / #BMW-B58 / #B58
    CAPACITY: 2998cc
    MAX POWER: 340hp @ 5500-6500rpm
    MAX TORQUE: 332lb ft @ 1380-5200rpm
    0-62MPH: 4.8 seconds
    TOP SPEED: 155mph
    ECONOMY: 60.1mpg
    EMISSIONS: 124g/km
    PRICE (SE): £46,645
    PRICE (M SPORT): £49,945

    There’s a real kick in the kidneys when you floor the throttle, regardless of the gear you’re in or the speed you’re already doing.
    • Five gremlins? I noticed that in your review of the new 530d xDrive and the 540i that there must be something wrong with the economy figures you give:Five gremlins? I noticed that in your review of the new 530d xDrive and the 540i that there must be something wrong with the economy figures you give: 530d xDrive: 60.1 mpg; 540i: 60.1 mpg?
      The emissions also seem incorrect as the M240i in the same issue has an economy figure of 36.2mpg.
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    • Oh dear Aspi-Rant, what can we say? Well spotted and many apologies for the gremlins that crept into the spec panels for the new 5 Series test. The 53Oh dear Aspi-Rant, what can we say? Well spotted and many apologies for the gremlins that crept into the spec panels for the new 5 Series test. The 530d xDrive figures are correct but, as you’ve rightly pointed out, we’re afraid that those for the rear-wheel drive 540i were a trifle optimistic. The 540i’s vital stats should in fact be 40.9-43.5mpg (6.5-6.9 litres/100km) and emissions of between 149 and 159g/km – depending on which wheels and tyres the car comes with.

      Again, many apologies for getting this wrong in the January issue, and many thanks to everyone who was kind enough to write in.
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    We loved the M135i but do a new engine and some subtle tweaks endow BMW’s hottest hatch with even more joie de vivre?
    Words: Bob Harper Photography: Gus Gregory

    Hot Stuff The best hot hatch BMW has ever made? You could make a case for the cracking M140i being just that.

    M140i tested
    BMW’s rapid and entertaining hot hatch put through its paces.
    When they’re working our motorways are a great way of getting around and if you attack them at the right time of day significant distances can be covered in pretty short order.

    Trouble is, that ‘right time of day’ window of opportunity seems to be getting shorter and shorter by the day and finding the Holy Grail of driving for a London-based hack – a free-flowing M25 – is about as common as a polite Clinton/Trump exchange.

    These are the thoughts that are flitting through my mind as I contemplate returning to London from my sister’s house in Salisbury. It was an unscheduled visit as when I picked up the M140i you can see here from a BMW event in Wiltshire the traffic displays on Google maps and on the BMW’s sat nav both suggested that a toddler had gone wild with their mother’s brightest hue of red lipstick all over the South East. No problem, I thought, blag dinner with my big sis and slope off back to London once the traffic had died down. Except the traffic appeared not to have died down. Both the M3 and M4 appeared to be closed and if anything that toddler has stayed up past its bedtime and continued its frenzied attack with the lipstick. An offer of a bed for a night and the opportunity to raid my brother-in-law’s drinks cabinet was tempting but I really needed to get home and although the F20’s cockpit is a comfortable place I wasn’t looking forward to the journey.

    It didn’t take me long to get into the swing of things though. I’d planned a route in my head almost exclusively using back roads and pretty soon the M140i was thoroughly warmed-up and eager to play.

    Even in the dark this car’s cross-country pace is simply phenomenal. We’ll get onto its vital stats in a minute but for the moment hold one thought in your head: this M140i with the eight-speed auto ‘box is quicker to 62mph from a standstill than an E61 M5 Touring, and that V10-engined monster has never been criticised for its lack of pace.

    The way the M140i will catapult itself out of one corner to the next is immensely impressive whether you rely on low-down torque to punch you along or let the turbo’d ‘six sing and elect to use all the revs.

    Lower down the rev range you’re rewarded with a bassy, baritone note and while the soundtrack is ever so slightly muffled by being a turbo by the time you’re up around the 6000rpm mark you really have unleashed the full choir and orchestra, peaking in a wonderful crescendo just before you reach for the right-hand paddle for the next upchange which elicits a wonderful ‘whummph’ from the exhaust as you continue on your charge.

    Washing off your speed for the next corner is undramatic as, time after time, the M Sport braking setup with its bigger discs and four-pot front callipers knocks big numbers from the speedo ready to tackle the next bend. The M140i’s chassis proves up to the task, too. It’s not up to M2-levels of connectivity and communication but, all the same, you still have a good idea of what it’s doing underneath you and it never gives you an unexpected response. Some more feedback through the steering wheel wouldn’t go amiss but for an electric setup it’s not bad at all and it’s only when the going gets really tough that you ever have any cause for concern.

    Unexpected mid-corner undulations or broken road surfaces can upset the car a little and with the (optional) adaptive dampers in their Sport setting you do occasionally feel as if there’s a little bit too much patter from the wheels as they hop from bump to bump, not quite settling properly in between them. After I’ve made hay for the first part of the journey the roads do seem to deteriorate somewhat and a quick fiddle with the #iDrive leaves the engine in Sport mode but backs the dampers off to their more Comfortorientated setting which I personally often prefer as I like the additional compliance it gives you. Yes, you do experience a little more body roll at times but I’m happy with that as the level of lean helps to give you an idea as to how hard you’re pressing.

    We’re onto more open roads now with less tight corners and the M140i makes short work of the straights, blatting past the occasional slower moving car with ease. As I become more familiar with the car the speed that long sweepers can be taken at is deeply impressive. Just a gentle dab of the brakes is required to settle the car into the corner before getting gently back on the throttle to balance the car through the bend.

    The original plan was to head for the A3 to come into London but as I’m having so much fun I decide to run a bit further east on the back roads and head into London on the M23. As the magical mystery tour continues it then dawns on me that one of the reasons I’ve been able to maintain such a good pace and not have any of those clenched buttock moments you can sometimes get at night on unfamiliar roads when the Tarmac suddenly goes in a direction you weren’t anticipating is because the headlights on this car are phenomenal. All higher-end 1 Series models come with full LEDs as standard but on this machine BMW has upgraded these (to the tune of £490) to Adaptive LEDs, which also includes high-beam assist.

    They make a huge difference illuminating the road so effectively and creating little light tunnels as you approach other cars so as not to blind them but still offering excellent coverage. If you reckon you’re likely to spend much of your time driving at night these really are a must-have option.

    All good things come to an end, though, and in what seems like no time I’m approaching the base of the M23 and I slot everything back into Comfort, set the cruise to a smidgen over the speed limit and relax a little. Economy for my back road blast hasn’t been stellar – I’m into the low 20s – but resetting the readout and rechecking as I approach London shows that a sedate cruise will nigh-on double that figure. With everything set to Comfort the M140i is exactly that with the eight-speed auto slurring between ratios imperceptibly and the engine quiet and subdued.

    Even the last few miles of London traffic are kind to me. I cast a glance over my shoulder once I’m parkedup in south east London as the M140i’s exhaust ticks quietly to itself as it starts to cool down and I can’t help but think that this machine is a real gem and enough of a step up over the old M135i to be worthy of the new badge.

    At the heart of the M140i is the new B58 straight-six which offers 340hp and 369lb ft of torque – gains of 14hp and 37lb ft – enough to knock 0.3 seconds from the 0-62mph time in both manual and auto guises. Economy’s improved, too, now up to 36.2mpg for the manual and 39.8mpg for the auto we have here, while emissions are reduced by 9g/km and 12g/km respectively. It’s not just the vital stats that are impressive, though, as on the road you really do feel the extra urge, particularly lower down the rev range, and the engine’s keenness to rev is a welcome improvement, too. That’s not to say the old M135i was desperately lacking in these areas, simply that the M140i offers a significant advancement.

    While the majority of the car is the same as the post-face-lift #LCI-1-Series , BMW has altered its suspension settings so that it’s more like the M240i and you do notice this on the road. It’s ever so slightly keener to turn-in, resisting understeer a little better, while it also seemed that the rear end was less inclined to breakaway unless the roads were particularly damp. And this is perhaps the only area where the M140i suffers, namely in low-friction traction where injudicious applications of throttle will see the traction control tell-tale flashing demonically.

    It’s something that can be driven around in the majority of situations but can be slightly frustrating when you really want to put the hammer down. For the most part leaving the car in a higher ratio does the trick, but occasionally pulling out of wet junctions is a little fraught, especially if you’re going for a small gap in traffic.

    Another aspect of the M140i that appeals is its stealthy nature. Most other road users don’t give you much of a second glance, especially if you de-badge the car. Only those in the know will likely clock the lack of front foglights or the Ferric grey highlights on the mirror caps and around the front air intakes. And while we’re on the subject of those lower front air intakes, am I the only one who hates the fact that the one on the driver’s side is properly functional while the one on the passenger side is simply a piece of plastic covering the whole opening that’s just made to look like an intake? I guess I never made a fuss that only one of the E9x M3’s bonnet mounted intakes was functional so this shouldn’t really bother me… but it does! And while I’m nitpicking, I’m not really a fan of the Ferric grey paint either.

    Apart from that, though, I’d say I’m a huge fan of the car and were it ever so slightly bigger I could almost see myself running one. Sadly rear legroom is an issue that brought grumpy complaints from my 17- year-old son. At £33,835 for this eight-speed auto version I also reckon it’s a bit of a bargain – and over £10k less than an M2 which also doesn’t offer the M140i’s hatchback practicality or anonymity either. Watch out for the price of options, though, as our test car came in at a tad over £40k, although bar the LED lights, Adaptive dampers and heated front seats I could live without the majority of the toys.

    That late night back road blast will live with me for a long time, though. I’ve not had that much fun in a car for ages. Thank goodness our motorways don’t always behave themselves, eh?

    TECHNICAL DATA #2016 #BMW-F20 / #BMW-M140i / #BMW-M140i-F20 / #BMW / #BMW-1-Series / #BMW-1-Series-F20 / 2016
    ENGINE: Straight-six, 24-valve / #B58B30M0 / #BMW-B58 / #B58
    CAPACITY: 2998cc
    MAX POWER: 340hp @ 5500rpm
    MAX TORQUE: 369lb ft @ 1520-4500rpm
    0-62MPH: 4.8 seconds (4.6)
    TOP SPEED: 155mph (155)
    ECONOMY: 36.2mpg (39.8)
    EMISSIONS: 179g/km (163)
    WEIGHT (EU): 1525kg (1550)
    PRICE (OTR): £32,405 (£33,835)
    Figures in brackets refer to eight-speed automatic tested #ZF8HP

    This M140i with the eight-speed auto ’box is quicker to 62mph from a standstill than an E61 M5 Touring.
    • Three-pot praise. It was surprising but pleasurable to read a review of the lowly 118i in the November issue. I share ownership of a 118i five-door SpThree-pot praise. It was surprising but pleasurable to read a review of the lowly 118i in the November issue. I share ownership of a 118i five-door Sport auto with BMW Finance. It replaced an F30 116i, which I respected rather than loved. The F30 had all those fine BMW characteristics but was too bloated – it frequently stayed in the garage while I took my wife’s car to the shops! What I wanted was something the size of an E30 and the F20 is spot-on.

      I have to disagree with your reviewer on several points however. I respect the fillings in my teeth too much to drive an M Sport model. A mere Sport also has a sensibly-sized steering wheel. Sticking below 4500rpm with that sweet-running threecylinder engine is to deny it its chance to shine though and with a redline at 7000rpm it shows that this engine loves to rev. Possibly your test car was not yet fully run-in; a process that takes a couple of thousand miles. Then you can show a surprising number of larger-engined cars the way home. I find that using Shell V-Power Nitro petrol helps too. And what a refined engine it is too – beautifully smooth, almost like a straight-six.

      My F20 is simply a lot more pleasurable to drive (and park) than its F30 predecessor and I love it.
        More ...
    • We’re glad that the 118i has put the sparkle back into your BMW motoring Peter and while the 118i might ‘only’ have three-cylinders its vital stats arWe’re glad that the 118i has put the sparkle back into your BMW motoring Peter and while the 118i might ‘only’ have three-cylinders its vital stats are actually better than the four-cylinder F30 316i that you owned previously, with the 118i being quicker to 62mph from standstill than the 3 Series.
      You are right that the Sport model will ride better than the M Sport as the latter car has M Sport suspension settings as well as wheels that are an inch larger in diameter. If you prefer the M Sport looks you can always opt to delete the M Sport suspension as a no cost option.
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    New #BMW-3-Series-GT driven / #BMW-3-Series-F34

    If you like the unusual looks of the #BMW-3-Series Gran Turismo, then there’s little reason to fault the storming new 340i range-topper… Words: Matt Robinson. Photography: BMW.

    There seems to be a trend in the automotive industry at the moment that is stifling the excitement out of midlife facelifts. So many modern cars, upon reaching the three-year halfway point of their lives, are updated with barely anything changing at all. Only the most intense of motoring enthusiasts would be able to spot the differences between the old version and the new at 50 paces.

    BMW is one of the worst offenders. Time was when a Life-Cycle Impulse (or LCI, in BMW-speak) on a BMW would see all the light clusters change shape, various design details would be overhauled on the front, back and sides and, of course, there was the easiest identifier for fans of the marque – enlarged kidney grilles.

    Nowadays, you’re lucky if Munich has even altered the front air intakes. And so it is with this, the 2017 Model Year 3 Series Gran Turismo, or GT. Visually, you’ll be hard-pressed to spot the newcomer, so let us outline the alterations. All of the illumination in the BMW’s front end is now handled by LEDs. For a fee the advanced Adaptive LED Headlights can be specified. And, yes, the air intakes have been tinkered with, too. At the rear, the LEDs have been fashioned into an L-shaped ‘light signature’, the exhaust pipes have marginally increased in diameter, and there’s a reshaped lower apron. Two new colours for all models, Arctic grey and Jatoba metallic, have been added and on the M Sport variants you can opt for a classic BMW shade: Estoril blue. Three fresh alloy wheel designs complete the revisions.

    Maybe there’s a good reason for this reluctance to take drastic exterior restyling action, namely so that it doesn’t annoy the 140,000 customers worldwide who’ve already signed up to the 3 GT’s particular set of aesthetic charms.

    Inside, its core strengths of passenger space (enough rear legroom to rival the regular wheelbase 7 Series) and a gigantic boot, starting at 520 litres and rising to 1600 with all the seats folded down, remain intact. Talking of the interior, like the 3 GT’s bodywork there’s little to see here, save for some new wood trim finishes, touches of chrome around the air vents, the Navigation System Professional dashboard screen with its tile menu arrangements and also the premiere of BMW Connected. This is one of the big changes for the Gran Turismo.

    BMW Connected is a ‘personalised digital mobility companion’ function in the car’s infotainment brain. Launched in Europe in 2016, this system will develop over the years, says BMW, to become ‘a learning, digital friend who can autonomously help you plan out your day’. For now, in the simplest terms possible, one of the key services BMW Connected can provide is to automatically monitor your planned routes for changes in traffic conditions and then alert you (long before you’ve got into the car) as to the best time to leave if things are looking nasty on the commute.

    It does this by sending messages to a smartphone or Apple Watch telling you when you need to depart in order to still get to the office, or a rendezvous with friends, or a restaurant downtown, at the scheduled time. Think of it as an extension of the traffic announcement feature of sat nav systems, only instead of getting in your 3 GT at your normal time in the morning and then finding out a traffic incident is going to make you 30 minutes late for a crucial board meeting, what actually happens is BMW Connected pings a message to your phone while you’re still brushing your teeth to say you need to leave in ten minutes to make your appointment. Clever stuff.

    More changes can be found under the GT’s bonnet where the latest family of modular, 500ccper- cylinder petrol and diesel powerplants are drafted into service. All three of the petrol choices – the 184hp, four-cylinder 320i, the 252hp, also fourcylinder 330i and this flagship 340i – are brand-new motors, while over on the diesel side just the fourcylinder units come from this family. The 150hp 318d and the 190hp 320d were both introduced to the 3 GT range in 2015, so they’re carry-overs, but there is a newcomer in the form of the twin-turbo 325d, delivering 224hp and a massive 332lb ft of torque. For anyone wanting six-cylinder turbodiesel oomph, the 330d (258hp/413lb ft) and the 335d (313hp/465lb ft) models stay on, having been part of the Gran Turismo’s line-up since 2013.

    Most GTs now come with the eight-speed Steptronic as standard and many of them can be had in xDrive as well as traditional rear-drive format; the 335d is the only GT that comes with xDrive as standard. We drove a rear-wheel drive 340i, where power is up 20hp on the superseded 335i, peaking at 326hp, while torque swells 37lb ft to a robust 332lb ft. That’s enough for a scorching 0-62mph time of 5.1 seconds and the 155mph limited maximum, yet BMW says it can achieve 40.4mpg on the combined cycle with just 159g/km CO² emissions.

    Say what you like about the modesty of the overhaul, but the 3 GT is an imposing car to look at without appearing gargantuan. The interior is superb, with little to fault about the driving position nor the visibility out and about. And the 340i, on its bigger alloys and with a sportier cabin, has real presence, so there’s a lot to like about this striking 3 Series.

    Its name tells you that it’s a Gran Turismo, so maybe we shouldn’t be too harsh on the fact the 340i’s focus appears to be on thunderous straightline pace and near-unimpeachable refinement first and foremost, with the dynamic road-holding abilities further down the pecking order. Our test car didn’t have the £515 adaptive dampers; it had a passive set of springs and shock absorbers instead and there’s just a little more body roll and a touch too much understeer in the corners to make the 3 GT feel like a truly sharp machine. It’s not without merits, such as fine steering, strong brakes and impressive traction, but manhandling the 340i GT along a twisting back road is a slightly uncomfortable affair.

    There’s nothing uncomfortable about the rest of the driving experience, though, because this thing has a brilliant ride. Supple and languorous, the 340i is as cultured picking its way along crumbling suburban streets as it is ironing out stretches of motorway. That body roll in bends speaks volumes about the softness of the setup, with the pay-off being refinement of the highest order. The lack of significant wind, tyre or engine noise seeping into the cabin certainly helps the overall classy demeanour of the 340i GT.

    And while it might not be faultless in the curves, once you show the car a straight then all is forgiven. It doesn’t feel appreciably different to the 335i that went before, but that’s no bad thing because the 340i is therefore near-M Performance ballistic if you pin the throttle. On an autobahn outside Munich, it hauled well into three-figure speeds with seemingly no let-up in its appetite for acceleration. It also sounds excellent when closing in on its redline, and it almost goes without saying that the Steptronic transmission is fluid and unobtrusive at all times. All of which means that, while there’s no seachange for the LCI 3 GTs, tangible improvements have been wrought. And as other manufacturers offer very little like it in the way of competition, then the 3 GT remains well worth a look.

    TECHNICAL DATA / #2016 / #BMW-F34 / #BMW-340i-Gran-Turismo-F34 / #BMW-340i-Gran-Turismo / #BMW-340i-F34 / #BMW /

    ENGINE: #B58 straight-six, turbocharged / #BMW-B58 /
    CAPACITY: 2998cc
    MAX POWER: 326hp @ 5500-6500rpm
    MAX TORQUE: 332lb ft @ 1380-5000rpm
    0-62MPH: 5.1 seconds
    TOP SPEED: 155mph (electronically limited)
    ECONOMY: 40.4mpg
    EMISSIONS: 159g/km
    WEIGHT (EU): 1735kg
    PRICE: From £42,735

    Manhandling the 340i GT along a twisting back road is a slightly uncomfortable affair.
    The interior is superb, with little to fault about the driving position nor the visibility out and about.
    The 3 GT has always had a great interior and subtle tweaks have improved it further; there’s a huge amount of rear legroom and the boot’s bigger than a Touring’s.
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    M140i and M240i introduced / #B58 / #BMW-B58 / #BMW-M140i / #BMW-M240i / #BMW / #BMW-M240i-F22 / #BMW-F22 / #BMW-M140i-F20 / #BMW-F20 / #2016 / / #B58B30M0

    As is generally the case, BMW’s model range will go through a series of changes and upgrades this summer and two of the machines set to benefit this year are the M Performance M135i and M235i which both receive the new B58 six-cylinder engine and see their names change to BMW-M140i and BMW-M240i respectively. The new engine receives a power hike of 14hp and now has a maximum torque output of 369lb ft – a gain of 37lb ft over the outgoing model. The three- and five-door M140is and the M240i Coupé all knock off the benchmark 0-62mph sprint in 4.8 seconds (4.6 if equipped with the eight-speed auto) while the M240i Convertible is a tad slower at 4.9 seconds for the manual and 4.7 seconds for the auto. Despite this improvement in performance the new M Performance models see a seven per cent improvement in fuel economy. When the M140i goes on sale it will cost from £31,875 with the M240i priced from £35,090. The M240i convertible will cost from £38,535.
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    Leader of the Pack We sample the new #BMW-340i to see if the F30’s still got it. Much imitated, seldom bettered, the face-lifted 3 Series might not have many immediately obvious upgrades but it’s still a step ahead of the opposition Words: Kyle Fortune /// Photography: #BMW /// #BMW-F30

    It has been 40 years since the first 3 Series arrived, the E21 starting a revolution in the firm that’s amounted to 14 million sales – and counting. The big four-O, then, though the 3 Series is presenting its new face in its landmark year with something of a whimper. A transformation it is not, BMW’s visual tweaking of the Three for its face-lift is on the conservative side, but some would argue that the Three’s lines are still fresh today.

    Key changes centre on the headlights. These don’t just get a new look (the optional LED units gaining LED ‘eyebrow’ indicators), but the headlights themselves are positioned further apart and feature LED driving lights. Broader air intakes add to the visual illusion of width, while the centre air intake’s design better integrates the radar for the Active Cruise Control. When the styling revisions highlight hiding some technology in grilles you know the design team hasn’t been too taxed.

    Don’t expect anything too radical around the back, either; the rear lights have been revised, with new LED technology arranged in a ‘BMW L shape’. They’re faster acting, while the LED indicators run across both the side and boot sections of the light. Underneath a modestly re-profiled bumper sit new exhaust pipes, which, from the 320i and 320d upwards, are dual 70mm diameter units. Add some new alloy wheel choices and that’s about as far as the revisions go externally for the refreshed 3 Series.

    It is no surprise, then, that the interior changes are similarly modest. There are some new finishes to the dash, plus some chrome accents around the new seat controls, window switches and air vents. Changes around the armrest bring a pair of new cup holders and a new tray stowage area for your phone. It is all very familiar then, and, really, that’s no complaint; the Three’s interior is a well-considered, functional and beautifully finished driving environment, more so now at night thanks to the addition of ambient lighting.

    The assertion from Dr Stephan Neugebauer, Head of Project BMW 3 Series, that: “We deliberately decided not to make wholesale design changes,” is obvious, the emphasis instead on making improvements elsewhere. Which means to the dynamics and drive, the former for enjoyment, the latter to improve the Three’s competitiveness in the cut-throat, business-bought marketplace it leads. Neugebauer insists that the majority of the work has gone into improving the 3 Series’ dynamic make-up, making it even more direct and stable yet more comfortable at the same time. Conflicting dynamic goals which Neugebauer’s colleague, Florian Dietrich, Project Manager Driving Dynamics 3 Series, admits kept his team very busy indeed. The results will vary depending on engine and suspension specification, obviously, the 3 Series’ range breadth meaning there are choices of standard, M Sport and fully adaptive suspension setups. All feature stiffer settings thanks to new damper technology and revisions to the body to increase rigidity, with the promise of improved resistance to roll, pitch and dive, greater directional stability and increased steering precision.

    Fittingly, perhaps, the only variant available to drive at the international launch was the new 340i model, in Sport Line trim, leaving testing of the standard suspension setup (and the most relevant, volumeselling 320d) to a future issue. Specified additionally here with optional Adaptive M suspension, M Sport Brakes, 18-inch Michelin Pilot Super Sport tyres on V-Spoke Style 398 Orbit alloys, the 340i launch car as specified will be a rare machine in Europe, the majority of sales stopping at another pump altogether thanks to efficiency requirements.

    Emissions and economy aren’t forefront in my mind starting up the 340i. Pressing the push-button start sees the new 3.0-litre TwinPower Turbo direct injection unit start with a pleasingly rousing, sporting note – the Three is this new engine’s first installation. It tops the petrol engine line-up (ignoring the M3), replacing the 335i. An all-aluminium unit, the 3.0-litre in-line six-cylinder B58 engine develops 326hp between 5500 and 6500rpm along with 332lb ft of torque from 1380rpm. That’s a 20hp/37lb ft improvement over its predecessor, yet despite the greater output CO2 emissions are just 159g/km, or around ten per cent less than the old 335i Saloon’s figures. Economy improves, too, with 41.5mpg quoted for the official EU combined cycle, though those figures are for the automatic model, which is the most efficient. BMW quotes 36.7mpg and CO2 of 179g/km in standard, six-speed manual form. Choose the Touring over the Saloon in 340i guise and that choice is taken away from you, as it is only offered in combination with the eight-speed auto. More practically-minded 3 Series drivers, it seems, don’t want a third pedal and a busy hand in sufficient numbers to warrant offering it.

    Given the Steptronic eight-speed’s likely sales dominance the launch car’s specification of it isn’t surprising. There are no complaints with its operation when you’ve selected Drive, the eight ratios swapped almost imperceptibly, though via the drive control unit there’s the option to change the shift points. It runs up to the rev limiter in Sport+ mode though taking over and driving via the wheel-mounted paddles makes for less frenetic revs in the vagaries of road driving, lessening the need to swap modes when entering villages and the like.

    The eight-speed ‘box offers a number of innovative functions that not only improve shift quality but economy, too. There’s a wider ratio spread and reduced torque convertor slip, these combined seeing a CO2 reduction of three per cent. There’s a coasting mode, too, which at higher speeds allows decoupling of the engine from the drivetrain, leaving the engine at idle, reducing any unwanted engine braking. The transmission also uses the navigation system to read the road ahead, using the information to best select the correct gear for approaching junctions, roundabouts and corners.

    It works, too, the biggest compliment you can give the Steptronic transmission being that you don’t notice it working. That’s true of the 3.0 TwinPower unit to a point, its refinement commendable at normal engine speeds and only becoming vocal when you wring it out. It’s tempting to do so, too, as it rewards with a delightfully sporting note, though revel in that too long and you’re quickly looking at big numbers on the speedometer and worrying about your driving licence.

    Neugebauer’s assertions that the key revisions to the 3 Series focus on ensuring it remains at the top of its class as the dynamic benchmark ring true. With that 3.0-litre TwinPower in-line six doing its job the chassis reveals the characteristically beautiful balance that’s a Three signature. It’s clearly, gloriously rearwheel driven, not just in the lurid, power oversteer videos you’ll see on YouTube – though it’s possible if you’ve a decent tyre budget – but in the way the car feels so balanced and natural in the bends.

    If there’s any corruption then it’s in the steering itself. There’s the chance to switch the steering response via the drive mode selector, each increment from EcoPro up to Sport+ changing, marginally, the character of the drivetrain and dynamic makeup. With optional M Sport Adaptive Suspension and Variable Sport Steering it’s not always a happy mix, requiring a bit of fiddling to find a combination setting in which the 3 Series feels at its best.

    Anything above Comfort adds heft at the rim, robbing it of its immediacy to turn-in. Even Comfort mode feels a touch unusual at first, the steering lacking in clarity and feeling artificial in both its weighting and response. It’s not so overbearing that it dominates the drive, but it requires a degree of learning and ultimately trust. There’s no doubting the car’s agility, its ability on testing switchback roads never in question, though BMW’s decision to bring along the entire 3 Series back catalogue and allow us to drive them all, highlighted that, while in almost all areas the modern offering is vastly superior to those that preceded it, when it comes to steering that progress has stalled, if not regressed. That might be down to the fitment of Variable Sport Steering, allied to the M Sport Adaptive Suspension. It’s hoped that volume-selling models on the standard suspension without optional steering choices will come with a bit less artificiality at the wheel. The control the 3 Series offers on a variety of road conditions remains exemplary. Like the steering the suspension’s best left in Comfort, as Sport adds a patter that’s damped at higher speeds but obvious when you slow down.

    Rarely will you find the need for more control than Comfort offers, it mixing its impressive agility with a ride comfort that’s pleasingly supple even on poorer surfaces. That’s on an 18-inch wheel and tyre package, so the ride is likely to deteriorate on the optional 20-inch wheel choices, cracking as they look. There might be some requirement to choose your options wisely when setting up the car dynamically, but there’s no need with the engine. The 3.0-litre TwinPower Turbo straight-six’s smoothness is beyond question, its power delivery exceptionally linear and its response equally impressive. With the Steptronic Sport automatic it’ll reach 62mph in 5.1 seconds (5.2 with the six-speed manual) and the top speed is an electronically limited 155mph. The ease with which it reached that on an unrestricted autobahn underlines the engine’s plentiful power.

    It’ll be an unusual sight in the UK and the rest of Europe, where diesels dominate the sales mix. Nonetheless, the entire engine line-up has seen the sort of incremental improvements demonstrated by the 340i. The 318i replaces the 316i, gaining a turbocharged three-cylinder petrol engine of 1.5-litre capacity with 136hp and 162lb ft of torque.

    Combined with the Steptronic eight-speed automatic it returns 54.3mpg and emits 122g/km of CO2. The 320i and 330i offerings – the latter replacing the 328i – feature BMW’s new four-cylinder TwinPower engine with 184hp in the 320i and 252hp in the 330i, allowing 0-62mph times of 7.2 and 5.9 seconds when fitted with the six-speed manual gearbox. The 320i’s 134g/km of CO2 and 48.7mpg capability are impressive, though that economy figure is matched by the 330i, and its CO2 emissions rise by just 2g/km to 136g/km.

    Impressive as those figures are, the economy champions in the line-up are the diesel options – of which there are seven. The range encompasses the 316d, 318d, 320d and 325d, all using a version of the in-line four-cylinder 1995cc turbodiesel unit. In the 316d it returns 68.9mpg and emits just 109g/km of CO2, the 318d achieving 67.3mpg and 111g/km of CO2. The 320d matches that, unless you specify the EfficientDynamics model, which, when combined with the eight-speed Steptronic, slips under the 100g/km CO2 threshold and returns a combined economy figure of 74.3mpg – 72.4mpg and 102g/km with the six-speed manual. Above the fourcylinder offerings sit the 330d and 335d, which are powered by a 3.0-litre TwinPower turbodiesel with 258hp in 330d guise and 313hp in 335d form, the 330d emitting 131g/km and the 335d 145g/km. With the 330d having 413lb ft and the 335d 464lb ft, they’re able to reach 62mph in 5.6 and 4.8 seconds respectively, making the 335d the fastest non-M car in the 3 Series line-up.

    The forthcoming 330e plug-in hybrid won’t be able to match its diesel relations in terms of performance against the clock, but the official 134.5mpg combined economy figure and 49g/km of CO2 will be of particular interest to business drivers. Combining the 2.0-litre 184hp petrol unit with an 80kW electric motor, its maximum output will be 252hp and 309lb ft of torque, giving it a 0-62mph time of 6.3 seconds on its way to a 140mph top speed. With a potential 22-mile all-electric mode the plug-in 3 Series will be with us in 2016.

    Until then the face-lifted 3 Series enters its 40th year as impressively as ever; the visual revisions are subtle while the technical ones ensure it remains very much at the top of the class it effectively invented. The 340i poses a few questions, around the steering in particular, that will be answered as we sample the entire 3 Series line-up in time, though fundamentally the elements of what make it such a hugely competent all-rounder remain.

    TECH DATA #2015 #BMW-340i-F30
    ENGINE: Straight-six, turbocharged, 24-valve #B58 / #B58B30M0
    CAPACITY: 2998cc
    MAX POWER: 326hp @ 5500-6500rpm
    MAX TORQUE: 332lb ft @ 1380-5000rpm
    0-62MPH: 5.2 seconds (5.1)
    TOP SPEED: 155mph (155)
    ECONOMY: 36.7mpg (41.5)
    EMISSIONS: 171g/km (159)
    WEIGHT (EU): 1605kg (1615)
    PRICE (OTR): £38,125 (£39,645)
    Figures in brackets refer to eight-speed automatic

    The all-new B58 3.0-litre engine is an absolute peach; Variable Sport Steering fitted to test car less impressive.

    BMW has tweaked the lights on the LCI with the full LED headlights gaining eyebrow indicators; at the rear there are LED units with indicators that run across both parts of the lamp.

    There’s no doubting the car’s agility, its ability on testing switchback roads never in question.

    Interior changes are minimal – new finishes to the dash, plus some chrome accents around the seat controls, window switches and air vents.
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