More S…less UV
"Promising member joining the M fraternity."
"It features a thinner steering wheel and also excellent front seats with all imaginable adjustments."
"What started off as a racing program supplement is now a full-blown commercial tuner Mecca!" said Ershad.
Sharp corners and quick steering corrections form an essential part of the X3’s Sport mode diet."
The ‘M’ badge has been fuelling the auto enthusiast’s need for speed for close to five decades. The moniker has found its way into every possible auto souvenir and will be among an auto lover’s most prized possessions.
BMWs are often referred to as the ultimate driver’s car and the ‘M’ just adds a couple of feathers to the cap. What started off as a racing program supplement is now a full-blown commercial tuner Mecca!
The newest kid to join the ‘M’ family is the X3. Yearning for a revamp for quite some time, the previous gen X3 felt lost in the recent wave of urban compact SUVs. There couldn’t be a better time to launch a fully updated X3 and that too is the hooligan M avatar.
Faced with a hasty braking situation while approaching a local alley roundabout, the X3 was downshifting like a pro and all the crackles and burbles from the exhaust pipes sent pigeons flying out. Sorry dear fellahs! Thanks to the M-spec brakes on the X3, my stop was all smooth and un-dramatic. I was playing around alone with the Sport mode on the new BMW X3 M40i and loving every second of it. Press the gas pedal, release it or just simply sit on those sweet looking sport seats; the X3 M40i keeps your adrenaline levels spiked up. Powered by a 3.0-liter twin-turbocharged inline-six spitting out 355 horsepower and driving all fours through the brilliant eight-speed steptronic transmission, the new X3 claims to hit 100 km/h from standstill in 4.8 seconds. Although I could not time it, I was pretty much glued to the seats till I released the throttle. It definitely feels quicker than 4.8 seconds! The new engine comprises a lot more aluminum in it and so do a lot of the chassis components. The overall exercise has made the new X3 M40i lighter by 55 kgs over its predecessor. This translates into improved agility and road manners for the new X3. Sharp corners and quick steering corrections form an essential part of the X3’s Sport mode diet, but you need to be wary with that right leg. Shifting to Comfort drive mode relaxes things a bit, but the ‘M-ishness’ shows up every now and then. The new X3 has a perfect 50:50 weight distribution, which is a pleasure to the driver. All-wheel drive is a bit rear-biased for improved agility and for a bit of fun for enthusiasts! Suspension can now handle rough patches more maturely, although road noise from those humongous 21-inch wheels can cause a bit of concern. Overall, the chassis remains composed and feels polished for performance. There is never any hint of body roll or pitching under any circumstances.
One of the essential components of a high performance vehicle like this is a good seat-steering geometry. BMW is a brand that excels in this, but I am not a big fan of those chunky steering wheels seen in their recent models. The X3 M40i features a thinner steering wheel and also excellent front seats with all imaginable adjustments. Special mention to the extendable thigh supports and adjustable side bolstering which kind of cocoons you in that signature M style. Rear seats are not super spacious, but can accommodate three passengers quite comfortably. There is a slight increase in the wheelbase of the new X3, but with no appreciable difference in leg space or cargo capacity. The remotely controlled 40:20:40 split rear seats add versatility to your loading requirements as does the auto tailgate.
Gone are the days when performance cars needed only bare spec interiors. Today’s enthusiasts are much more demanding and expect a performance car to be comfortable on their daily commutes as well. The interiors on the X3 M40i feature a mix of leather and high quality steel finishes. The dashboard, however, is clear of any clutter and is driver-centric to a good extent. The new central touchscreen and excellent heads-up display are class leading, and makes the i-drive system easier to work with. Speed and navigation guidance are never out of your sight again! Also featured, is a gesture control which may or may not work when you want it to; but the kids love it. During my family trip to Jebel Jais, the X3’s calm and composure was put to the test and I would say that it passed with flying colors. The dual sun-roof added roominess and the top spec Harman Kardon audio made sure that our favourite tracks were enjoyed at full blast. The speedo display screen changes its layout according to the selected drive mode and the selectable ambient lighting sets the mood for your long drives.
Long drives are assisted by features like Active Cruise Control, Steering and Lane Control Assist, Lane Keeping Assist and Blind Spot Assist. One of the best things on the X3 was how quickly I was acclimatized to its modes and settings. On my two-hour drive, I was majorly stress-free. Thanks to the driving assistance features on the new car, I was able to maintain highway speeds with almost zero inputs from my side. All I had to do was reach the speed, set the cruise control speed and set the distance I needed to maintain from the vehicle in front. And voila, you are driving semi-autonomous and feel like Tony Stark. The X3 brakes and accelerates automatically depending on the traffic ahead of you and keeps within the lane without any inputs. Electronic control systems like Automatic Differential Brake, Cornering Brake Control and Hill Descent Control assure you peace of mind in any kind of terrain.
BMWs look stunning whether in motion or static. The same applies for the new X3 M40i. The exterior redesign, though subtle, strikes you at the right places. The contour is quickly identifiable as an X3. Overall dimensions and lines feel unchanged. Major rework was done under the outer shell. The new X3 has got an updated kidney grille design flanked by adaptive LED headlamps. Huge air intake vents with integrated LED fog lamps wind up the drama on the front end. Profile remains similar to its predecessor with just a wheel arch vent and rear spoiler helping to distinguish the new model. M-spec wheels add a ton of sportiness and the four-piston blue brake calipers peep out on my black test car. Personally, I felt that the blue color was not visible enough…yellow maybe? The car sits lower to the ground due to the ‘M’ factor and may at times remind you of an M3 estate (is there even such a car?). The 50:50 weight distribution is visibly evident as the X3 sits horizontally straight. The rear end looks packed with the new rear spoiler, optional 3D effect taillamps and the squared-off sport exhaust pipes.
The new BMW X3 M40i is a promising member to join the M fraternity; although I could never understand what ’40’ stands for in the ‘M40i’ badge. Hopefully BMW is not following Audi with its naming methodologies. The new X3 is sure to impress potential sport compact SUV buyers with its over-the-top acceleration and handling charisma in a luxurious package. If you are buying an X3 for thrills, the X3 M40i it is.
Pros: M power fun, luxurious and clutter free interiors, excellent driving assistance package
Cons: Design lacks refreshment
Rivals: Audi SQ5, Mercedes-Benz GLC 43 AMG, Porsche Macan GTS
Engine: 3.0L twin-turbocharged inline-six, 355 hp @ 6,500 rpm, 500 Nm @ 1,520 rpm
Transmission: 8-speed steptronic transmission, AWD
Performance: 0-100 km/h: 4.8 secs, top speed: 250* km/h, 9.5 L/100 km,
Weight: 1,885 kg
one word: sportier
4 / 5 STARS