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Grand-touring on my BMW M340i: 7 observations after a 2000 km road trip

Funnily, the undulating roads in MH weren't felt on my Octavia but were noticeable while driving the BMW.

BHPian krishnadevjs recently shared this with other enthusiasts.

Ever since we got the M340i, I've been making one excuse or the other to just take her out and drive.

From, "Oh? You want a chocolate, dear? Let's go and buy it in the M340i" to my daughter to "2 days WFH is for wimps, I'll work from the office every day" just to drive this beast back and forth, it's been one excuse after the other.

However, none of these small drives could do any justice to the amazing car that the M340i is. And therefore, over the Holi weekend, we decided to do something super courageous.

We decided to go on a 2,000km Road Trip from Mumbai to Bangalore and back. By itself, it doesn't sound very courageous, does it? Well, we decided to go on this trip with our 4.5-year-old daughter and our 4-month-old daughter!

Of course, I presented this to the wife as an opportunity to go and stay with her brother for a few days, and she agreed (not without seeing through the plan, though).

I've done this trip countless times on my Mumbai - Trivandrum road trips in the Octavia, but never with the kids (well, just once with my elder one who was 1.5 years then, during the 1st lockdown). Given we had a 4-month-old, we decided to take it easy and take a halt in Hubli in both directions.

The route was Mumbai - Pune - Satara - Kolhapur - Belagavi - Hubli. Stay at The Ananth Grand near Hubli airport, my standard halt on this route. And then continue to Bangalore via Neelamangala - Tumkur route on the next day. The return trip 2 days later would be the reverse.

We started from Mumbai a bit late on Day 1, as we had a school function for our daughter. Started at 3 PM, filled up XP95 at the Mankhurd IOCL pump, caught all the Navi Mumbai traffic and finally entered the Pune Expressway around 4:15 PM.

It was smooth sailing to Pune, with the M340i easily covering the distance with constant triple-digit speeds. We did get a bit of traffic at the ghat section, but much lesser than usual.

To throw the car around the twisties was real fun up until my wife reminded me that we had a baby in the back, who was now fighting G-Forces to get to her milk. I was quite impressed by the grip the car offered, as I could easily do turns at speeds which would've surely thrown any other car off the road.

Pune did see some bit of traffic on the bypass but as soon as we crossed, it was smooth sailing again. Well, smooth in terms of traffic, but not so much in terms of the road surface.

All the way to the MH border, the roads were undulating. Funnily, I had never noticed this in the Octavia, but on the BMW, it suddenly seemed that the roads were very uneven. In fact, the car would stick to the surface like a leech so much, that any expansion joint or raised portion on bridges would send us occupants flying inside. While my well-bolstered front seat kept me hinged and in place, I think the back seat occupants bore the brunt a bit more than I did.

Some more of this undulating surface, and I soon found a constant nagging noise coming from the back seat. It sounded something like, "You spent so much money on such an uncomfortable car. The Octavia was so much better! How bad a ride quality this is!" The nagging sound did come down when we dropped speeds and did a bit more sedate driving.

Post the MH border though, roads became significantly better and I could do better speeds without the occasional jumping jacks game inside. And by now, night had also befallen us, and traffic got significantly sparse.

This stretch from Belagavi to Hubli was the most enjoyable part of the drive, as we flew past trucks on smooth tarmac. The M340i was truly in its element with quick acceleration and effortless cruising at 3-digit speeds. Finally, around midnight, we reached our hotel in Hubli, for a well-deserved rest. 570 km took us 8 hours - around 70 km/h avg speed.

We left Hubli early the next day to avoid traffic and continued on from the previous night's fantastic drive. The remaining 422km came in quick time, and at much lesser stress, courtesy of better roads, much lesser traffic and fresher people inside the car. We reached Yelahanka, at my BIL's house in time for lunch.

A couple of days later, it was time to head back, and we decided to leave around 3 PM from Bangalore and reach Hubli around 9. Luckily, Bangalore traffic didn't hit us, and we exited the city well in time. The ride back was pretty smooth till Hubli and I reached the hotel in just 5 hours.

On this stretch though, we ran into a wall of insects and the windscreen as well as the front portion was completely ruined. I had to spend a good hour with Colin to get the icky gooey yucky stuff off the windscreen.

Around 6:15 AM on the next day, we left the hotel yet again, on to the final leg of the journey. This time though, it was much better, which leads me to think that the experience on the 1st day was more because of us being tired than the road is bad.

Stopped at a Mcdonald's in Kolhapur for breakfast, and again at the McD on the Pune Expressway for a quick snack around lunchtime. Overall, we made good time and reached Mumbai back around 2 PM.

A few points from the drive:

  1. It sure feels amazing to be the fastest car on the road. Throughout the journey, the M340i was effortless in overtaking or accelerating - even in EcoPro mode. After a 2,000 km drive, I can confidently say that not a single car overtook us - very juvenile, but feels good nevertheless.
  2. The level of confidence this car gives is mind-blowing. It's so sure-footed and planted that you feel like it'll do exactly what you tell it to - and it does do that. Whether it be cornering or taking high-speed turns or overtaking or braking, the car does it when you think of it!
  3. We did the journey to Bangalore majorly in EcoPro. Ended up getting around 11.6 to 11.8 km/l. The journey back was mostly in Comfort, except for the single-lane stretch in Belagavi which we did in Sports Plus. We ended up getting 12.6 km/l! Personally, I felt these numbers were super impressive for a ~400 HP, 6 Cyl.
  4. While the 0-100 timing, the power figures etc are well known for the M340i, the brakes have to be the single most confidence-inspiring feature on this car. They effortlessly stop the car from high 3-digit speeds to a standstill in no time.
  5. Finally, the low GC caught up with me, as my BIL's apartment entrance has a hump designed by Satan's son. The dude probably designed it to keep wild elephants at bay, cos no matter how wide a crab move I tried, the underbody would scrape the floor.
  6. A good heads-up display is such an underrated feature. Not needing to glance down to see the speed, is just one of those things you never knew could be so liberating!
  7. The 120kmph chime is JUST SO ANNOYING! A few coders I've contacted have said they don't yet know how to code this out in the LCI, but I've asked them to let me know the moment they figure. This HAS TO GO!

And here are some pics from the journey:

Now, I'm looking forward to April end, when I'll be doing a Mumbai - Trivandrum road trip and then back by May end. The M340i has hit 3500km as of now, in about 30 days with me. And so far, I don't think I could find a better use for 80 lacs.

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