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Review of the 2018 BMW X3 M40i: In sight of perfection?

Right, so it’s important right off the bat to place this in context, and not compare the 2018 BMW X3 M40i to just any other SUV on the market. This vehicle sits in the luxury compact SUV segment. The regular X3 is already pretty hard to beat, even as it faces down competition from the likes of the Audi Q5, Mercedes-Benz GLC, Porsche Macan, Volvo XC60, Alfa Romeo Stelvio, Jaguar F-Pace, Lexus NX, Acura RDX, INFINITI QX50 and Cadillac XT5.

This year, we get a cherry on the sundae, with the arrival of the new X3 M40i xDrive. It immediately stands apart from its rivals because it resets the boundaries for sport utility vehicles at a new, higher level, particularly in terms of performance.

In fact, I’ve never driven an SUV as well calibrated and performance-minded as the X3 M40i. And beyond the wonderful sensations you experience at the wheel, this vehicle also does an outstanding job combining luxury and ergonomics, sporty driving and fuel economy, comfort and performance – all while being the perfect platform for getting the kids to school, in whatever weather conditions apply.

If you’re looking for a dynamic driving experience in a genuine luxury SUV, BMW has the right package for you this year!

Photo: K.Lajoie

The M40i delivers the best acceleration in its segment, doing the 0-100 km/h in 4.8 seconds. This is thanks to the new 3.0L inline-6 that replaces the 2.0L 4-cylinder turbo; the new engine generates 355 hp and an impressive 369 lb-ft of torque. Wedded to it is an 8-speed Steptronic automatic transmission with automatic stop/start that works impeccably, as well as the xDrive all-wheel drive system that is more rear-biased than on other models.

The X3 M40i has a wheelbase longer by 5 cm, and weight is distributed evenly between the two axles. The SUV is built on a high-performance M chassis with improved aerodynamics. Road grip has also been improved and only enhances the exceptional road handling that is a trademark of BMW vehicles.

I loved the drive modes, which genuinely alter the driving dynamics of the vehicle. In ECO PRO mode, the X3 M40i gave me remarkably good fuel consumption totals, hovering around 9.3L/100 km, mainly with highway driving. COMFORT and SPORT models deftly recalibrate a number of elements to offer either a smoother or edgier ride; the SPORT PLUS mode, meanwhile, is unique to the M40i version and ramps up the performance capabilities and driving dynamics.

All this helps explain what I mean when I say this vehicle represents the ideal mix of premium drive qualities on all surfaces and without restrictions, for a daily-use vehicle!

Photo: K.Lajoie

Over and beyond its prowess on the road, the 2018 X3 M40i also offers up a well-designed interior, equipped with advanced technologies. The head-up display is 75% bigger than before, for one, and is now in full colour. Comfort and safety elements have been augmented and upgraded, the standard enveloping sport seats are ventilated for both front-row occupants, the leather-wrapped M steering wheel is a pleasure to grip, and the power panoramic sunroof is longer by 250 mm (though I do wonder how well it will weather the years).

The ergonomics are pretty much faultless throughout the cabin, for example the angle of the back seats can be adjusted individually for greater comfort. Trunk space is 500 litres with the back seats up, and 1,600 litres with them folded down, which is really impressive! Unsurprisingly, the drive assist systems are plentiful and latest-generation.  

As for pricing, well…you’ll have to pony up, no question! The base-model BMW X3 M40i de base starts at $61,500. To benefit fully from the features mentioned above, you’ll need to put in another $12,500 for the Supreme package. It goes without saying that this SUV takes Super gasoline, and that maintenance costs will be hefty.

But really, if I had the budget to go for a true high-performance luxury SUV, I’d pick the 2018 X3 M40i eyes closed… and ears wide open. Because the sound produced from its dual-exhaust system is simply majestic. Watch our video through to the end to give you an idea.