The Ultimate BMW 3 Series

CarBuyer Team

When the BMW M340i xDrive meets the BMW M3 Competition in Singapore, which one is going to be the better daily driver?

If there’s a single series of cars that has shaped the way most people have come to think about a modern BMW, it has to be the 3 Series sedans. Sprung onto the world in 1975 as a successor to the BMW 02 Series, the BMW 3 Series has grown from strength to strength, with seven generations behind its history to date.

What makes the BMW 3 Series so special, from the base 318i all the way to the M models? The biggest point is that they are designed from the ground up as sports sedans, with the kind of agility that you’ll never find in any other run-of-the-mill cars that were designed as basic cars first, then modified for the sportier versions.

BMW M3 Competition (left) and BMW M340i xDrive (right)

There are two BMW 3 Series sedans at the top rung of the performance lineup. The M340i xDrive and M3 Competition, as available in Singapore, are the peak expressions of not just 3 Series performance, but some would argue represent the whole ethos of BMW itself.

The rear ends of the BMW M340i xDrive (left) and BMW M3 Competition (right)

So the big question is, will the BMW M340i xDrive satisfy a car enthusiast on the roads of Singapore? The breadth of its dynamic ability is already far beyond what any sports car requires on public roads, and it has the practicality of being a five-seater with four doors.

Or do you really want to pony up an extra S$100k or so for the top-flight, uncompromising BMW M3 Competition?

We have CarBuyer Singapore’s Managing Editor, Leow Ju-Len, along with Chief Editor Derryn Wong, weighing up the pros and cons of the two greatest BMW 3 Series sedans this generation. Whose side are you on?

Derryn Wong at the wheel of the BMW M340i xDrive

Derryn Wong: The BMW M340i xDrive has a 3-litre turbocharged inline 6-cylinder engine with 374hp, an eight-speed Steptronic Sport gearbox, as well as various additions from BMW M in the tuning department. Despite all that power, the special thing about the M340i xDrive is that it does normal, relaxed driving, very well too.

The BMW M340i xDrive features a 3-litre, turbocharged inline 6-cylinder engine with 374 horsepower

Obviously there’s more power in this car than you could ever expect to use on public roads. But it also has a secret weapon, the M Adaptive Suspension. This allows you to go from sporty to comfortable at the push of a button.

M Adaptive Suspension in the BMW M340i xDrive allows it to suit any driving condition

Still, there’s loads of room for two adults at the back, and three isn’t really a squeeze either. If you ask me, the M340i xDrive is the perfect BMW daily driver that’s also a serious sports sedan.

Leow Ju-Len driving the BMW M3 Competition

Leow Ju-Len: If you want the ultimate 3 Series, it has to be the mighty BMW M3, and not just any M3 but the full-blooded M3 Competition with 510 horsepower and capable of doing the 0-100km/h sprint in just 3.9 seconds.

The BMW M3 Competition has 510 horsepower from its 3-litre, twin-turbo inline 6-cylinder engine

All the BMW M3s have been quick over the years, but this is the first one to have more than 500hp and that’s just desirable. You can tell the M3 Competition is fast just by looking at it. The engineers at BMW M have worked on its brakes and given it a unique suspension setup. This is why it’s so wide and the wheel arches bulge out so much.

And then there’s the aerodynamics – with scoops to take in air for cooling, or bleed out air to cut drag, or do all sorts of things with the air just to make the M3 Competition more stable at high speeds.

BMW M3 Competition cabin is trimmed in carbon fibre

The M3 Competition has racy bucket seats and acres of lovely carbon fibre, that light strong stuff that Formula 1 racing cars are made of. Plus, in typical M fashion, it’s also super customisable. You have buttons to change the settings for the steering weight, suspension firmness, throttle response, and even how fast you want the eight-speed M Steptronic transmission to change gears.

Derryn Wong: But do you really need all of that in Singapore? Consider this: the M340i has xDrive, BMW’s adaptive all-wheel drive so 0-100km/h is dashed off in only 4.4 seconds. That is already super quick. The M340i xDrive is also not excessive. It’s subtle, with a sleeper vibe to it.

The BMW M340i xDrive’s engine

Leow Ju-Len: We’ve both driven these cars extensively as journalists, but what I find amazing about the M3 Competition is how well-rounded it is. You can be bobbing along with something super sporty one moment and then you push a couple of buttons, you’ve got something that’s really nice, relaxed, comfortable and refined.

Programmable M modes allow the driver to tailor the BMW M3 Competition to individual driving preferences

Derryn Wong: Do you really need more than 400hp in a car in Singapore? The M340i xDrive is much less expensive to buy and maintain, and still has genuine M Power pedigree in its architecture. Plus, it’s more comfortable in daily use. If you can drive for hours in an M3 Competition you can definitely go for days in an M340i xDrive. It’s a car for a more civilised drive more of the time. 

BMW M3 Competition features powerful brakes to bring the car to a stop confidently from high speeds

In fact, I tried the M340i xDrive on the track in Portugal a few years ago and that car made me feel like a racetrack hero without staining my pants.

The BMW M340i xDrive’s cabin is comfortable yet sporty

Leow Ju-Len: The M3 has been a legend long before that though, so I think you can’t argue with the weight of history. If you tell people you drive an M3, that just tells the whole story right there.

Derryn Wong: That’s true, but I would argue that the BMW 3 Series is the whole story. 

BMW M340i xDrive has a sports braking setup that is also very progressive in urban driving conditions

Leow Ju-Len: Let’s focus on the common ground. I do agree that even a regular 3 Series is nothing to sniff at and after all these years, it’s still the quintessential sport sedan. Whichever one you drive, they all share the same sporting DNA and that’s what makes a BMW 3 Series so different from its competitors.

Which car would you choose? Head on over to to choose your own sports sedan and book a test drive to experience it now!


bmw iDrive M3 M3 competition M3 sedan m340i

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CarBuyer Team

CarBuyer Singapore brings the most relevant, accurate and useful car news to Singaporeans in both print and online formats.

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