Car: BMW 340i Touring (F31)
Owned since: May 2016
Previously owned: Peugeot 205 GTI, Classic Mini, Mazda MX-5, Mazda 6 Estate, BMW 3 Series xDrive Touring.
Why I bought it:
"There's been lots of chat about fast, cool estates lately and so I thought PistonHeads would like to hear about my fast dog transporter.
After two diesel estates, it was time to scratch the six-cylinder, rear-drive BMW itch before they stopped making them. I have dogs so a Touring was the obvious choice; I'm not into the SUV craze and don't fancy picking muddy dogs up to put them in the boot. Plus, I just think estates look cooler. My last 3 Series estate was a huge disappointment for me. A 320d xDrive, the diesel was noisy and, while the all-wheel drive made it safe and predictable, it was dull as well.
I intended to buy outright and did my research with brokers first, so knew what discounts were out there. Dropped into my local dealer on the last day of the financial year and got myself a discount of almost 20 per cent off the 46k list. Yes, I did pick lots of options, some of which were perhaps misguided. More on those later. The buying experience was very special, I made it clear early on that I knew what I wanted and was willing to sign that day if the deal was right."
"The engine is the beating heart of this car, and so it should be. You can potter around in near silence (unlike the 320d) or smash up to the red line accompanied by a creamy six-cylinder wail. I love tunnels, the noise just bounces off and the pops and crackles never stop making me giggle. All the xDrive fans will say, "yeah, but what about traction?" Well I do get the odd TC flash on damp roads, but feed the power in smoothly and it just grips and goes. Boy, does it go. This is one rapid road car, there's a touch of lag in comfort mode and then its just builds and builds speed. License threatening in seconds, without restraint.
My car has the adaptive suspension fitted, which gives a clear distinction between comfort and sport. Some will say sport is too firm but not me, it suits perfectly. I love the look with the Sports Plus pack, the 19-inch wheels and the fact it's de-badged; unless you are a BM geek and clock the twin exhausts it could be a 320d... The upgraded brakes in blue also add to the look.
I also love that all of tech just works and makes life easier: LED adaptive headlights, heads up display, Connected Drive and so on. The heated steering wheel is rather lovely, too. I have a set of 18-inch winter wheels, with Michelin Alpin winter tyres. During the heavy snow of December the car just felt planted and stable under acceleration, cornering and, perhaps most vitally, braking."
"The dreaded run flats. The car can sometimes feel like it's skipping over broken surfaces rather than gripping. This disappointing trait is not helped by the rather remote steering, that's too light in comfort and too heavy in sport. Annoying! Road noise, because of those run flats again! On the winters that are not run-flat most of these traits are considerably reduced. Come on BMW, sort them out, they are making a potentially great car merely good. Back to tech. I went with the expensive Pro Nav option and the routing is truly terrible. It's sent me down back roads and single track lanes too often for me to have confidence."
"Well the discount helped with the main cost, as did delivery in May 2016 which means it's on the old VED. I've gone for the service pack as well so that's covered for the next five years and as I'm doing only 9,000 miles a year the 50k limit will not be exceeded.
Fuel costs. Well there are two very different sides to this car. The gentle cruiser on motorway or A-road will show 35-40mpg, which is amazing. Or short journeys or 'pressing on', when 22-25 will be showing. I didn't buy this car to worry about fuel consumption, but it is pleasing to know 40mpg can be had on the gentle run to Cornwall.
I pay less than £280 to insure the 340, which seems crazy cheap, but I do live in rural Shropshire and have an unblemished record. Depreciation will be the bullet to bite at change time, but that may be a way off."
"Two miles to the railway station most week days, hence the low annual mileage. Cornwall, lots of times. It's a great tool for dispatching tourists on the slower lanes. A number of good blasts to north and mid Wales, again a great way to get the dogs to the beach in quick time. I may do France this year, but no track days; it's a family estate not a sports car and I recognise that very clearly."
"The new 3 Series is out 2019-20, but at the moment I have no desire to change. I have changed the exhaust tips from chrome to black and may do the grille in black too. The thought of the MPSS performance pack from BMW is ever present in my mind but forum members say it is very loud and not sure my rural neighbours would approve."
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