R700,000 vs R1,100,000 – Big difference in the BMW 3 Series range – TopAuto
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HomeFeaturesR700,000 vs R1,100,000 – Big difference in the BMW 3 Series range

R700,000 vs R1,100,000 – Big difference in the BMW 3 Series range

There is a R441,000 price difference between the top-of-the-line M340i xDrive and entry-level 318i in the BMW 3 Series range.

This amount mostly covers the uprated engine and luxurious cabin features.

It also goes towards the significant distinctions in styling, with the M340i offering a more aggressive look thanks to an M aerodynamics package.

This extra spend to get the range-topper might not be worth it to everyone, but for drivers looking for proper performance in a practical package, the M340i may be the answer.

Upmarket features

The BMW 3 Series sedan is the company’s bread and butter, as this premium four-door has been a bestseller since its arrival in the 1970s.

In part, this is due to a cabin that provides the best of both worlds by treating passengers to comfortable seats and high-end features, while still being driver-focused with a sporty atmosphere.

Even at the low-end the 3 Series leaves little to be desired, as every model comes with dual-zone climate control, keyless entry and start, automatic LED headlights, rain-sensing wipers, cruise control, and a large infotainment display that supports Apple CarPlay and 24/7 concierge and emergency services.

In the 318i, owners can expect Hevelius cloth upholstery and an 8.8-inch screen on the dash, while 16-inch alloy wheels and standard bumpers are fitted to the exterior.

The range-topping M340i then boasts an impressively-long equipment list.

This model brings with it leather upholstery, electrically-adjustable and heated front Sports seats, the M Sport steering wheel, and an upgraded sound system as standard.

The BMW Live Cockpit infotainment system is included, too, which sees the central display grow to 10.25-inches while adding a 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster.

Passenger safety

Another area where the BMW 3 Series excels is passenger safety.

The range was awarded a 5-star safety rating from the Euro NCAP, and receives a host of active and passive safety systems.

In the entry-level model, this includes run-flat tyres, all-round parking sensors, driver attentiveness assist, ABS with cornering brake control, and six airbags.

Once again the M340i offers all the bells and whistles, the most notable of which are cameras and sensors to enable features like lane departure warning, lane change assist, front collision warning with automatic braking, rear cross-traffic alert, and road-sign recognition.

In addition, 360-degree cameras allow the parking and reversing assistant to autonomously manoeuver the vehicle in tight gaps – with the system automatically remembering the path that it took so that it can follow the same path out.


In the BMW 318i lies a 2.0-litre, four-cylinder, turbo-petrol motor paired with an eight-speed automatic transmission.

The unit delivers 110kW and 250Nm to the rear wheels, which sends the sedan to 100km/h in 8.4 seconds and to a top speed of 223km/h.

The M340i easily beats these figures with its 3.0-litre, six-cylinder, turbo-petrol motor mated to an eight-speed Sports automatic transmission. This produces 285kW and 500Nm.

Furthermore, this specification receives the M Sport differential, M Sport brakes, M Sport suspension, xDrive all-wheel-drive system, and the variable Sport steering system as standard.

The result is a 4.4-second 0-100km/h acceleration and an electronically-limited top speed of 250km/h.

The 318i does win the fuel consumption battle, though, with its smaller motor achieving a 6.3l/100km ratio while its larger sibling comes in at 7.7l/100km.

In every 3 Series, a nearly 50:50 weight distribution, adjustable traction control, adjustable throttle and steering sensitivity, and a stiff suspension set-up are standard.


The BMW 318i has a South African starting price of R697,524.

The BMW M340i xDrive has a South African starting price of R1,139,216.

All prices are inclusive of a 5-year/100,000km BMW Motorplan.

BMW M340i xDrive

BMW 318i

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