For 2016 the 3 Series receives its mid-cycle update (also known as the Life Cycle Impulse or LCI). These updates usually involve tweaks to the look and performance of the vehicle to keep it fresh and competitive for the next four years.
To the casual observer the exterior changes might go unnoticed but enthusiasts will notice the new and improved front and rear bumpers coupled with new LED daytime running lights (except on 320 models) and new full LED taillights. This is a huge sigh of relief to many after BMW downgraded turn signals and taillights from LED to outdated incandescent bulbs when the model was redesigned for 2012. Overall the BMW 3 Series remains one of the best-looking vehicles on the road in my opinion.
The most notable changes to the 2016 3 Series lineup come under the hood. The outgoing 335 has been replaced with the 340 and is powered by an all-new 3.0-litre inline 6 cylinder turbo engine (called the B58 for you Bimmer nuts). The new 340 makes 320 horsepower and 330 pound-feet of torque and can go from 0-100 km/h in 4.6 seconds.
Steering and suspension components have also been updated for 2016 with a redesigned electric power steering system, new front struts, new rear damper technology, updated dynamic stability control and a re-tuned suspension that reduces body roll and improves directional stability.
This test vehicle was the 340i model which starts at $51,900 however it came with the $6500 enhanced premium package adding a plethora of features such as a surround view camera, heated rear seats, an electric rear sunshade, park distance control, heads up display, active blind spot detection, BMW Connected Services, lumbar support, auto dimming mirrors and more. If you don’t fancy all of these features there is the basic premium package which only offers the essentials and costs $3500.
It’s no secret that the BMW 3 Series is the standard-bearer for this segment and you can immediately tell why even before the vehicle is turned on. From the solid feel of the door handle to the smooth leather seats that hug you to the when you sit down, to the perfectly-shaped steering wheel – everything pleased me. This interior is visually pleasing and functionally efficient. Furthermore, BMW’s iDrive infotainment system has made great strides over the years and I had no trouble setting up the phone, and other systems to my preferences.
Occupants are treated to a throaty exhaust note from the dual rear pipes upon starting the vehicle. At normal speeds the 340i is as smooth as ever. Tap the throttle getting on the highway and you instantly have more acceleration than you’ll ever need. BMW worked greatly to broaden the power band with the new six-cylinder motor and it shows.
I’ve read many complaints about BMW’s drive-by-wire electric steering system but this car lives for spirited driving and especially on curvy roads. Ample feedback is provided to your hands and at no time did I feel disconnected from the road. Granted, track time is not an option during these week-long tests but for daily driving (even spirited driving) the system is perfect.
The manual transmission was something I wished I could have tried but unfortunately I was stuck with the eight-speed automatic. I find automatics lessen the overall driving experience of a sporty vehicle and I applaud BMW for continuing to offer manuals across most of the 3 Series lineup. DO NOT change this BMW!!
Is there anything I didn’t like? The one thing that got on my nerves during the week was the placement of the lock-unlock button. As you can see from the photos it’s beneath the hazard lights in the center of the dash. It’s been like this for years on 3 Series models and I’ve never understood why.
If one button placement is all that’s wrong with the 2016 3 Series then it’s safe to say they are in good shape vs the competition which consists mainly of the Audi A4, Lexus IS, Acura TLX, Infiniti Q50, Cadillac ATS, Lincoln MKZ, Volvo S60 and Mercedes C-Class.
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