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BMW X3 M40i review: Practical matters

BMW X3 M40i is fast enough to please fans, but practicality is its trump card.

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BMW X3 M40i

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BMW X3 M40i

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BMW X3 M40i

Lisbon

IN BMW's world, the letter "M" stands for "motorsport", but a more relevant word here would be "mate". You know, the person who stands between you and the low-slung sportscar you always promised yourself because she knows that at your age, you can't flop down into one without feeling like your spine is made of rusty metal.

But brands like BMW M can help, serving up sportscar-like performance with few of the compromises. Case in point: The X3 M40i, a fast car even the wisest of wives would approve of. It takes the space and practicality of the new BMW X3, and adds the stuff that gets a speed junkie salivating. It has a 360hp engine, beefed-up brakes, firmer suspension, and an exhaust note that crackles like gunfire.

Mind you, the X3 isn't a full, fire-breathing "M" model (slated to appear only next year) but it is a step up from the BMW norm, or what its maker calls an "M Performance Automobile".

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It gallops to 100km/h in 4.8 seconds, which is rapid enough for you to close in on the odd sportscar and take its driver by surprise.

If anything, the X3 M40i is actually capable of surprising its own driver with how fast it is, and is only one indiscretion away from turning your driving licence into worthless plastic.

While the engine delivers the goods, there's a nice soundtrack to match. Unlike other BMWs, which have become almost mute in their refinement, this one lets you know it has six busy cylinders. Some of that is the fruit of an electronic sound generator, but it's sweet nonetheless.

Things don't become sour when you arrive at some corners either. The BMW grips fiercely and the steering, while heavy, is mighty direct. The payoff for a firm ride is good body control. And when you combine it all, you have a Sport Utility Vehicle that feels as agile as a sporty sedan.

The M40i gets the posh new interior of the latest X3, with new features such as a touch-screen system and some expensive-looking hardware in the form of metal switchgear. But in general, the X3's greatest strides concern its space packaging. Rear passengers have room to stretch out and the boot is enormous. Fold the rear seats and you can fill the back of the car with 1,600 litres of stuff.

For all that, the X3 M40i enters a fiercely-contested segment. Mercedes-AMG's GLC 43 4Matic is elegant, big and fast; while Porsche's Macan Turbo just about edges the BMW in terms of how fluid it feels around corners.

Still, even if the X3 M40i falls short of the Porsche as a driver's car, it matches the Mercedes for size, and is a strong overall package. It may be an SUV with near-sportscar performance, but what makes it a winner are the boring, practical bits.


BMW X3 M40i

  • Engine 2,998cc, inline 6, turbocharged
  • Power 360hp at 5,500-6,500rpm
  • Torque 500Nm at 1,520-4,800rpm
  • Gearbox 8-speed automatic
  • Top Speed 250km/h (limited)
  • 0-100km/h 4.8 seconds
  • Fuel efficiency 8.3L/100km (estimated)
  • CO2 190g/km (estimated)
  • Price To be announced
  • Agent Performance Munich Autos
  • Available Early 2018