The BMW X3 could be classified as a Sports Utility Vehicle and it’s also a performance sports coupe rolled into one. The newly-remodeled X3 M40i kicks the performance quotient up a few notches over the standard model, and if you are driving enthusiast, BMW has the answer. If you need a family vehicle but want a performance machine, the M40i could be your answer for both. This week we drive the performance-oriented 2018 BMW X3 M40i. It’s a family performance machine, but how practical is it?
What’s new for 2018?
The BMW X3 gets a complete redesign for 2018. This is the third generation of X. The new X3 didn’t get radical changes and looks a lot like the previous model. The X3 is longer and wider, and the size boost produces tangible increases in head and legroom for all passengers. Inside, the central display is now a touchscreen that sticks up from the dash, and it's loaded with the latest iDrive infotainment software and wireless Apple CarPlay functionality.
Features & Options
Inside the X3 M40i ($54,300) you’ll find an auto-dimming rearview mirror, a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel with wheel-mounted shift paddles, keyless ignition, adjustable driving modes, tri-zone automatic climate control, power-adjustable front sport seats, a 40/20/40-split rear seat with individual seat recline, simulated leather upholstery, driver-seat memory settings, a 6.5-inch central display, BMW's iDrive infotainment interface, a USB port and a 12-speaker audio system.
The standard Convenience Package adds LED headlights, keyless entry, a panoramic sunroof, satellite radio and four-way power lumbar adjustment for the front seats. The M Sport package adds 19-inch wheels, more aggressive-looking front and rear bumpers, a sport steering wheel, and a simulated leather-covered dashboard. Other upgrades include adaptive suspension dampers, upgraded brakes, and variable-ratio steering.
The M40i gets additional features including adaptive LED headlights, automatic high beams, a sport exhaust, a sport-tuned suspension, front and rear parking sensors, and a launch control feature.
This tester came with the Driving Assistance $900) with lane departure warning, and blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert. The Premium package ($2,950) offered up heated front and rear seats, heated steering wheel, navigation, a head-up display, and BMW Remote Services. The Executive Package ($2,550) featured front and rear parking sensors, an automated parking system and a 360-degree parking camera. Total MSRP including destination ion: $65,920.
The cabin in the X3 M40i is luxurious with lots of wood trim, aluminum accents, leather, and plenty of quality soft-touch materials throughout. The fit and finish is top-notch and BMW is a master at using colors that make the interior stand out in the crowd. Just like their Sports sedans, this Sports utility vehicle has a driver-focused cockpit. All the gauges, adjustments and gear shifter are positioned perfectly.
The front sport seats are comfortable for long trips and it's easy to find the perfect driving position for family members of all sizes with the 14-way driver’s seat with memory. The view from the driver’s seat offers good visibility out the back and sides, but we think the side mirrors are a bit on the smallish side.
The X3's elevated cabin gives a strong sense of space. There's tons of headroom for all passengers, while foot-and legroom is adequate for even taller passengers. While BMW says the X3 is a five-passenger model, the reduced backseat head clearance and deeply contoured bucket seats make it more comfortable for four adults. Three kids can ride in back as long as they don’t fight about who sits in the middle seat. Fold the second-row seats flat and there's plenty of cargo space for camping gear for weekend getaways.
The X3 offers a healthy 28.7 cubic feet behind its second row, which can easily be lowered from release handles in the rear, revealing 62.7 cubic feet of space. The standard full-size spare limits underfloor storage and makes for a somewhat tall loading space.
Engine & Fuel Mileage Specs
The M40i is powered by a turbocharged 3.0-liter six-cylinder engine producing 355 hp and 369 lb-ft of torque. It comes mated to a sweet 8-speed sport automatic with manual shift gate and steering wheel paddle shifters. EPA fuel mileage estimates are 20/27 city/highway mpg, and 23 combined mpg if you can keep your foot out of it.
The X3 M40i performs like a much smaller vehicle and has the driving dynamics of a true sports SUV. We pushed the BMW performance machine hard up I-70 west of Denver at altitude, and the twin power turbo came to life as it whirled up. We passed slower traffic with ease and had more power when needed. The ride is quiet and smooth at higher speeds and the sports suspension is perfect for mountain driving.
We tossed the M40i around tight mountain corners and the SUV breezed through the curves with little body lean. The vehicle's brakes responded quickly thanks to upgraded front brake rotors that raise their ability to curtail forward motion.
The 3.0-liter turbo inline 6-cylinder comes mated to a sweet 8-speed sport automatic gearbox. It also comes with ECO PRO, Comfort, Sport, and Sport Plus settings. Sport mode was our choice most of the week and it tends to be the most effective choice for most driving conditions. Sport plus affects steering feel, transmission shift points, and the feel of the gas pedal.
The available head-up display projects the current speed onto the lower part of the windshield and came in handy as we pushed the M40i hard this allowing us to keep eyes on the road ahead.
The 2018 BMW X43 M40i is a capable SUV for families who want something out of the ordinary. It ramps up the fun-to-drive meter and it still offers enough cargo-carrying ability to satisfy a small family's needs. The M stands for marvelous if you are a performance enthusiast. The X3 M40i has a substantial list of options and packages that can raise the price sharply.