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When I am here and now, I announce that 2018 BMW X3 M40i To be the bare minimum of what it means to be a sporty crossover, the SUV / Crossover Apocalypse may be a bit more bearable.
I know, I know, the BMW M line is the one that typically steals all headlights. Currently there is no X3 M, so the X3 M40i is the highest you can go. The thing is, just because it's not attuned to maximum attack does not mean it's no less capable. Or it is worthwhile choosing the market for one of these things.
(Full disclosure: BMW wanted me to drive the 2013 X3 M40i so hard that it lends me a full gasoline tank for the weekend.)
If SUVs and Crossovers really conquer the world, then I would have them all.
No real M option, no problem
Among the large family of SUVs and crossovers that BMW currently offers (six series at the time of writing, each with its own variations), the X3 is the mid-size. Not as petite as the X1 and not as massive as the X6. And the M40i part of the name refers to the turbocharged 3.0-liter straight-six engine. There is no X3 M, so the X3 M40i is the supreme you can go.
I experienced this wonderful machine for the first time in the M240i Coupe, It was rough and torquey and all sorts of fun. Would it offer the same joy in a larger, heavier body? I wanted to find out.
The X3 M40i weighs over 4,200 pounds and is set to 355 hp and 369 lb-ft of torque. All this is paired with an eight-speed car. BMW claims it will be sixty seconds off in 4.6 seconds with a top speed of 155 mph.
It has four-wheel drive and even a startup control function. It's a mystery to me why you need to take control of the start in a car that's likely to spend most of its life in Costco's car parks, but it's here.
You can see a lot of stuff
It's not about the fact that a transition is more spacious inside than limousines, wagons or coupes. Since I've just returned the 2 Series and normally do not drive crossovers, the height of the headroom in the X3 M40i was initially surprising.
The windows of the car are nice and big and the roof is high. From the outside it looks a bit absurd, but from the inside you can see almost everything on the street. New cars are becoming harder to see Because of the rising waistlines and the like, and it does not help that some transitions favor the "coupé" silhouette – a design decision that I find very inadequate because it reduces the rear window to the size of a pinhole and looks out of it almost impossible.
The X3 M40i suffers from such a design folly. BMW took a basic crossover form and went with it. I would not call it an attractive car, but at least it does not pretend to be something it is not.
And because it's a crossover, it fits in with many things and people. At least 17 people, four Bernese Mountain Dogs and enough equipment for a NASCAR tailgate. This is a professional estimate.
Steering still bad
I was afraid that the controls would be vague and too light and I was right. I think that properly weighted and calibrated steering is important to have in all cars, but especially when applied to a large, lumbering intersection. With its incredibly light steering, the X3 M40i felt the same way: lumuzing.
Bringing the car into sports mode eased the problem somewhat, but it was just another matter to give the steering more weight, rather than increase responsiveness.
Overall, the controls were fluid and vague. It's definitely not the kind of steering you want with a big car – it feels so disconnected because it's so light and the front of the car is so big.
Happy Errand Runner
Since most Americans use their cars to commute to work and run errands, I am pleased to report that the X3 M40i is quite comfortable to be on the road and to roll around on local roads with speed limits that do not exceed 35 mph. You never feel like the car is angry at the low speeds and the constant stopping.
The high ride offers you a good vantage point over everything that lies ahead. And because the X3 M40i is equipped with BMW's award-winning 360-degree camera system, parking is also child's play. I could only find four small blind spots, and those were at the corners of the car. But, coupled with a good, old-fashioned look, there is not much that you will not see.
"Sport" actually means something
Get in the throttle, especially when the car is in sports mode, and you'll get the same sweet, croaking, row-six howling I liked so much in the 2 Series. The acceleration was not as aggressive as that of the smaller car (because there are so many more cars to move), but the X3 quickly gets going for something so big.
The transmission is not as keen to turn up a gear in Sport mode, so the engine revs up a bit longer and drives you. It's a great feeling – a real encouragement for you to gas it more.
In fact, the X3 M40i responds well to a bit of caning. As it is slow, it also makes athletic. Of course you can not drive it so hard like the M240i-don't corner, do not stop so short – but the suspension is well balanced in the corners. It's perfect for a bit of light road carving or aggressive highway merging.
The MSRP for the X3 M40i comes to $ 54,300, but with options like the adaptive M suspension and the support, premium and executive packages, the price of my lender came to $ 65,045. That's about the price you would pay for a Porsche Macan S. The two are also almost identical in performance.
Maybe the BMW will depreciate faster over time than the Porsche. But if that does not bother you and you just want a punchy and punchy crossover with a punch, then the X3 M40i is your car.
No, the X3 M40i is not an M car, though it sports 15 /// M badges. I counted them. Well, that's too many badges, but I've heard that the more your car carries, the more horsepower it has. Can not confirm if that's true or not.
With the X3 M40i as punchy and pleasantly comfortable as it is, I just can not imagine that its less flavors, the X3 sDrive 30i and the X3 xDrive30i, are equally interesting or funny. If you want to market something as an athletic crossover then it should sound better and have some pickup. Otherwise you only drive in vehicle anesthesia with higher ground clearance.
The X3 M40i is for those who either want or need the extra crossover space, but also appreciate something that comes into the youth football game faster than any other moms and dads. It's fun to do that boring stuff, it's also nice that you have the opportunity to get some excitement.
It's the bare minimum of what a performance crossover should be. Everything is less boring, boring and pedestrian. You can sleep when you are dead.
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