Viewed : 21,646 times

15 May 2018

What We Dislike
Stiff suspension makes the ride too busy for everyday driving
Do you really need so much power in a family SUV?
Caters to a very specific kind of taste

The BMW X3 M40i is a very particular kind of car for the driver that wants a family SUV that also packs a ton of power and a whole lot of noise.

"Hey, I want a premium family Sport Utiltiy Vehicle (SUV), but I also need 355bhp and 500Nm of torque, along with a roaring exhaust to scare people off!" Does that sound like something you would say? If the answer is yes, then this is the car for you - the new BMW X3 M40i.

Yes, tell me more!

The BMW X3 M40i is the first ever M Performance model in the X3 lineup. To be clear, this isn't an M car. The M nomenclature might be a little confusing, considering there is also something called the M-Sport trim. M cars are the full blown performance models. M-Sport is a trim level featuring a collection of sporty accessories and design elements.

The X3 M40i is a handsome and visually imposing SUV

M Performance models come somewhere in the middle - offering a performance bump over the base models, but not to the level of the full M models. Think of it as a 'half-M' car, if you must.


Put simply, this car sits atop the current X3 lineup. With that said, the first thing you notice is the sheer size of the thing - big car, big grilles, big 21-inch wheels, big everything. Visually, it's certainly imposing. Quite handsome too, we reckon.

The X3 M40i rides on biggish 21-inch wheels

In fact, as far as size goes, this new generation X3 is actually bigger than the first generation X5.

It is still premium and comfortable inside, yes?

Absolutely. The interior is pretty standard premium BMW fare. It's high-tech, highly functional and ergonomically faultless.

The latest ConnectedDrive system with Navigation Professional also gives you all the nifty gizmos you could want - Gesture Control, surround 3D view, wireless charging, the list goes on. The only real quibble you could have is that the car you see displayed on the surround 3D view is a 5 Series, not an X3. But that really is splitting hairs. 

The cabin is comfortable, high tech, premium and ergonomically flawless

How does it drive?

Taken in isolation, the car is composed of several remarkable parts. The engine, a 3.0-litre turbocharged straight six, is a brutally powerful unit. With 355bhp and 500Nm of torque on tap, acceleration is rapid and slightly alarming for a car its size. 0-100km/h takes 4.8 seconds, which is much faster than anyone needs to travel in a family SUV.
In Sport, the car also makes a great noise - rowdy and angry, yet rising to a sonorous roar as you climb the rev counter. You could chase people out of your lane just with the sound alone. Lift off and you're greeted with gratifying pops and bangs. So as far as power and bluster goes, the M40i has got you covered.

The chassis is taut, offering excellent body control. Coupled with the M Suspension, the X3 handles extremely well in corners. Noise insulation is very good, too.

The new eight speed Steptronic transmission shifts gears seamlessly

But (and it's quite a big but), when you put all those parts together, the X3 M40i feels slightly confused and mismatched. The throttle doesn't have the direct responsiveness to really engage the engine thoroughly. Power delivery from the engine comes in lumps and lacks enough linearity for effortless daily use.

The M Suspension in particular, while never to a point of being uncomfortable, is too stiff for daily driving. You feel every bump in the road, and the ride is much too busy for just heading to work and back.

The 3.0-litre M Performance engine develops 355bhp and an immense 500Nm of torque

Who's buying this car?

Why would anyone buy this over a standard X3? Compared to the base X3 xDrive30i xLine, which costs $245,888, the M40i costs $70,000 more. If it's a premium family SUV you're after, $70,000 is a lot of money to pay for less comfort and power you don't need.

If you wanted the full blown M experience, this isn't it, either. For the $315,888 pricetag, you're better off buying an M2 (with change to spare).

The X3 M40i is a very specific kind of car for a very specific kind of buyer

This car is something of a halfway house. It's an SUV with compromises. But with all that being said, we're pretty sure there's still going to be a rather specific clientele that wants something like that, that's looking for a very particular kind of car. And this X3 M40i will be that very particular kind of car. 

Car Information

This model is no longer being sold by local distributors


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Engine Type


6-cylinder in-line 24-valve TwinPower Turbocharged

Engine Cap





265kW (355 bhp) / 6500 rpm



500 Nm / 4800 rpm



8-speed (A) Steptronic

Acceleration (0-100 km/h)



Top Speed



Fuel consumption



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