But ahead of the super saloon, BMW has revealed the top-spec M340i version of the new 3 Series which will debut at the upcoming LA Motor Show. And even though is not the full-blown M3, the M prefix has made it the most powerful 3 Series in the current lineup.
The drive technology, which has been extensively redeveloped and numerous details of which have been completely renewed, provides the six-cylinder with an increase in output by 35 kW/48 hp to 275 kW/374 hp vs. the most powerful engine previously used for the BMW 3 Series, as well as an increase in maximum torque by 50 Nm to 500 Nm.
Paired exclusively to an eight-speed automatic, that engine will rocket the M340i to 100 km/h from zero in just 4.4 seconds, when paired with xDrive all-wheel-drive. The sound development that accompanies the engine's dynamic power delivery is also intensively perceptible inside the BMW M340i xDrive Sedan. It is powered by a 3.0-litre twin-turbo straight-six sending power to the xDrive all-wheel-drive system channelled through an eight-speed Steptronic automatic gearbox. Steering shift paddles are standard, of course. A rear-wheel-drive auto is also available. Adaptive suspension with comfort, sport and sport-plus modes is optional.
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As for the Audi S4, it is perhaps the most visually subdued vehicle here, even though it also has a beefier front spoiler, larger wheels and quad exhausts. The M Sport differential is electronically controlled with a fully variable rear-locking function. There's also a variable steering option, but experience suggests this one might be less desirable. The M sport brakes achieve this with a more direct ratio as well as a different hydraulic configuration including four-piston, fixed calliper brakes and 348 millimetres discs at the front and single-piston, floating calliper brakes with 345 millimetres discs at the rear.
Various model-specific styling features are also included, from the design of the front apron, side sills and rear spoiler to the trapezoidal exhaust trims. Instead, it signals its ranking with some extra aerodynamic features on the front bumper, a few M badges and some grey metallic trim outside.
Despite all these differences, we can see the appeal of all three interior designs, although knowing what we know about the W205 Mercedes C-Class, we wouldn't be surprised if the M340i's cabin quality would surpass that of the C43's, with the S4 being slightly better in that department as well.