BMW’s seventh-generation 3-Series is looking poised to take its segment by storm, with a new M340i version here to keep us warm until the M3 flagship comes along.
The M340i happens to be the most powerful 3-Series version (short of the M3) that BMW has ever built, thanks to a turbocharged 3.0-liter straight six, putting out 374 PS (368 HP) to go with its 369 lb-ft (500 Nm) of torque. On top of that, you can have it with rear-wheel drive or an xDrive all-wheel drive system.
What about the alternatives?
The M340i has a lot of things going for it. Performance aside, you could easily describe it as being more modern than both the Mercedes-AMG C43 as well as the Audi S4. Since it’s based on the all-new G20 3-Series, this latest version of the saloon is rocking the same dynamic exterior design, a longer wheelbase than its predecessor and sharper character lines, somewhat reminiscent of the latest 5-Series.
You might find a bit more style if you choose the Mercedes, especially since this 2019 AMG-styled C43 model also features a new grille, sportier-looking front and rear bumpers, enhanced aero elements, trunk lid spoiler, larger wheels, side skirts and a wide array of sporty interior mods.
As for the Audi S4, it is perhaps the most visually subdued car here, even though it also has a beefier front spoiler, larger wheels and quad exhausts. It goes without saying that Audi really needs to hurry up and come out with an all-new version of the A4 – especially since Mercedes have already begun testing their next-gen C-Class.
Still, if you only care about performance and you don’t want people to instantly notice that you’re driving a “hot saloon”, the S4 could be a good choice.
I want the best tech
Inside, all three of these cars get a carbon fiber look, sports seats, loads of contrast stitching and sporty steering wheels, although the M340i’s is just chunky, whereas the other two have flat bottom designs.
Another common feature shared by all three is the digital gauge cluster, which the C-Class got only recently. However, it’s hard to deny the 3-Series’ advantage when it comes to on-board tech. It’s also obvious that the BMW and the Mercedes have way better-looking paddle shifters (if you care about that sort of thing), whereas the S4’s seem more plasticky and barely even visible.
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.
Which one is the quickest?
As you can imagine, they’re all pretty similar in a straight line. Technically, the 2019 Mercedes-AMG C43 has the most power with 390 PS (384 HP) on tap, whereas the S4 has 359 PS (354 HP) of its own. The M340i claims a zero to 60 mph (96 km/h) time of 4.2 seconds, whereas the Audi needs an extra 0.2 seconds and the Mercedes another 0.4 seconds – an increase in power for the 2019 model year didn’t lead to a better sprint time for the C43 unfortunately.
All things considered, which of these three sporty saloons would you rather have and why?