By Nauman Farooq
A few months ago, when I tested the 2018 BMW X3 in its xDrive30i configuration -which uses a turbocharged 2.0L inline-four motor- I exclaimed that the vehicle was just about perfect, and does not need any more power to make it more appealing!
However, by chance, I found myself in the driver’s seat of the new X3 M40i – instead of the 640i GT I was expecting to be in. This was no bad thing, because I did like the X3 xDrive30i a lot, and to now sample it with more power could prove to be even better! So, was it?
Styling: From a styling point of view, the changes between the xDrive30i and M40i are very minimal – I can barely tell them apart. Sure, the M40i version can come with bigger rims wearing sportier rubber, but lets just say, you won’t be picking one version of the new X3 over the other based on just looks. Overall, this third-gen model is the nicest looking X3 that BMW has offered so far, but it still won’t win a beauty contest!
Interior: The interior of the X3 xDrive30i and the X3 M40i is also the same, which is a really good thing, because I love spending time in it. First of all, it is very well made, so fit and finish is simply superb. The technology on-board is lifted largely out of the 7-series, which means a wonderful around-view camera that lets you see your surroundings in ways you could never imagine, plus all the usual infotainment tech.
One of the best things about the X3 is the step in height – it’s not too high, or too low – so you can just slip in and out of this vehicle. Once seated, you’ll find plenty of room -front and back- and the seats are very comfortable. Couple that with a large trunk, and the new X3 just makes a lot of sense as a daily driver.
Powertrain: Of course, the big difference between the xDrive30i model and this M40i variant is the motor. Under the hood in the M40i is a 3.0L straight-six cylinder that features a twin-scroll turbocharger. As a result, you get 355 hp and 369 lb-ft of torque to play with. Power is sent to all-wheels via a eight-speed automatic gearbox which is not only quick, but also smooth.
As you’d imagine, with the output under the hood, the X3 M40i would be fairly quick, and it is: Zero to 100 km/h is covered in just 4.8 seconds, and top speed is electronically limited to 250 km/h – this is a seriously fast family hauler. Driving Dynamics: Typically, an SUV that is fast, doesn’t ride well, and is clumsy around corners! Not the X3 M40i, as this vehicle rides like a car -not a truck- and bites into corners rather than be tossed about. Couple that with one of the best electronic steering systems and an active all-wheel drive system, and this X3 M40i proves that it is the “Ultimate Utility Vehicle.”
Fuel Economy: In my test cycle (170 km of highway driving + 130 km of city driving), the X3 xDrive30i had averaged 10.0 L/100 km. The X3 M40i on the same test gave me a figure of 11.5 L/100 km – which is very good, when you consider the power on board.
Pricing: The 2018 BMW X3 M40i has a base price of $61,500. Given its performance, comfort, and practicality, I actually think BMW is not charging enough for this vehicle.
Verdict: I liked the X3 M40i so much, it might just be a contender in my “Top 10” list at the end of this year. More power doesn’t always equal a better driving experience, but it does here. So, if you want a daily driver that you can also have fun with, this might just be the right vehicle for you!