BMW X3 M40i: Practical performance for the everyday enthusiast

Posted by Wheels On Edge about 6 months ago
When car enthusiasts start a family, can they still have a car that checks all the boxes on top of being practical and usable? BMW may have stumbled on the answer with this new offering – the X3 M40i.

At a glance there’s not too much that differentiates this M40i from a standard X3 – or even last generation’s X3. But a closer look at details like the 21-inch M-Individual wheels, M-badged brake calipers and massive rotors, black chrome twin exhaust pipes and a restyled, more aggressive front with Cerium Grey kidney grilles hint at the sportier nature of this X3. Our tester was finished in the only non-metallic colour option on the X3 M40i, Alpine White. While looks are an entirely subjective thing – we feel the X3 falls somewhat short compared to offerings from competition including the Porsche Macan and the Jaguar F-Pace
Inside, unique M touches set the X3 M40i apart from a base X3. The door sills feature BMW M-badging and the M40i’s model designation. Leather-laden bolstered sport seats offer a supportive, comfortable and body-hugging throne for both driver and front passenger. The seats also feature an extendable thigh support. The centre console and digital gauge cluster also feature BMW M-badging, setting the X3 M40i apart. 

Perhaps the most important feature however, lies under the hood. Powering the X3 M40i is a 355 horsepower, twin turbo 3.0L inline-6 engine paired to a quick and smooth shifting 8-speed transmission. With 369 lb-ft of torque, 0-100 takes just 4.8 seconds. The aforementioned M-brakes and re-sculpted front end, coupled with sportier suspension and handling tweaks make the X3 M40i sound more like a sports car than anything. So is it as fun to drive as it sounds? We put it to the test.
Pushing the start button results in an aggressive growl from the engine – and if you’re lucky – a few sharp cracks and pops from the X3 M40i’s sport exhaust. It’s worth noting BMW pipes artificial engine noise into the cabin in this hot X3. While purists will scoff at the notion, the same system is present across other BMW models and is unlikely to vanish any time soon. To be honest, it doesn’t sound all that bad either. Pop the X3 into sport mode and you’ll be greeted by a cacophony of crackles from the exhaust. The gearbox and throttle response become more responsive and aggressive and the suspension firms up. This of course means it’s less comfortable in daily driving over Canada’s many pothole-laden roads, but it’ll certainly make the everyday humdrum commute more exciting – and it’ll give you surprising capabilities in sharp corners. Despite its massive size and high centre of gravity, the X3 M40i is remarkably low on body roll. Twists and turns are handled with the kind of ease you might not expect from such a sizeable vehicle.
The countless M badges and sporty nature of the X3 M40i do not change the fact that at the end of the day, this is a family vehicle. In comfort mode, the engine and piped in sound are dampened considerably, only flaring up on hard acceleration. The suspension also softens up, absorbing road bumps and levelling out the vehicle for a smooth and comfortable ride. BMW claims a combined fuel economy of 8.2 L/100km, which, for something of this nature, is quite impressive. Our testing was not anywhere close to this – largely due to having too much fun listening to the exhaust crackle.

There’s no such thing as a vehicle that can tick all the boxes. Compromise must be made no matter what the case. The X3 M40i can be looked at as an attempt at hitting all the right notes. It’s fun and exciting to drive, sporty, comfortable, decent on gas and very practical for the family. In an era where North Americas are embracing SUV’s and crossovers, it’s an excellent formula. The only problem is – everyone else is doing it too. While the X3 M40i is no doubt very good, its competition has never been tougher. With excellent offerings from the likes of Audi, Porsche, Dodge, Volvo and others, it’ll be tough to stand out. But those loyal to BMW – and those that know the prestige and engineering that come with the letter M – know they’re in for a treat when they get behind the wheel of an X3 M40i.

Written by Shane Kalicharan

BMW X3 M40i, performance, luxury SUV

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