We simply cannot let Model-Year 2018 end without a glorious write-up of the charming new X3M40i we tested out on video a few months back.
Here is a crossover so much like its X5 big broether on the luxury and refinement charts. Yet one whose agility and light-feeling moves are joined by massive turbo power and a perma-grippy, rear-biased AWD system.
It is a combination your scribe has never found before. A trucklet that rides like a dream and launches like a pro with big exhaust howls.
It is all upside for this X3M40i for 2018.
Check out the drive review video below for a triple-camera run on some curvy roads.
Performance Drive Video
The most striking elements of the new X3’s design are its giant grille and baby-X5 details all around. The designs on the road take a genuine second to distinguish – this new X3 is not only bigger but simply far more premium and finished than most X3’s on the roads.
But from dead ahead, this new X3 M40i looks much more like the next-gen X5 and7 tan anything current. That is mostly due to the sheer scale of the new-shape kidney grilles. It looks slightly comical at first glace but your eyes do warm to its new scale over time. The larger grilles are now mounted much lower and deeper into the front bumper than before. It helps the brilliant LED DRLs and LED low and high beam light concepts to look ultra slim and sexy. The LED amber pipes for blinkers and the LED fogs down below make this car look like it’s worth double the $40k base models.
And if you were really against the grille, take a look at the transformation this nose undergoes when cooling is needed! This is easily the most dramatic active-aero element on the mass market.
This big M40i motor of course brings the sexiest painted trim packages and smoked silver accents in place of chrome. This applies to the lower intakes, giant kidney grilles, mirrors and badges throughout. It is a middle ground between the standard M Sport package and the top body-color-everything aesthetic of the X5 and X6 M.
We adored the design from all sides. The balance of all the lines makes it seem absolutely perfect. Yes, giant wheels but not in a déclassé way. Yes, big square exhausts and M badges galore. But in a subtle, Q-car-ish manner like the new M550i.
Cabin of the X3M40i stands out most for its huge upgrade in perceived, touchable materials and a giant upgrade in NVH materials. For the first time, an X3 really glides silently around town and even over lumpy roads. Just like its big bro the X5, the new X3 is now chock full of solid, strong feelings in every inch of its body.
The design inside is not quite revolutionary but does nicely integrate all the next-gen controls making their way downmarket since their debut in the 7 series. This means the high-res Google Earth maps, headsup-display and gesture control to take phone calls with a poke in the air. Or turn the stereo volume up or down with the twirl of a finger.
Seating and drive comfort are first class, while the new tab saddle leather all around is very yummy indeed.
The real genius of the X3M40i is how effortlessly fast it is. This is a machine that is satisfying in a serious way. Just enough play in the throttle and AWD system to boot you around and out of corners like a soccer ball. Yet enough around-town comfort that you never get the jiggles. Even the new GLX43 AMG suffers from this performance-suv affliction over rough roads. It is a rare sport-SUV indeed that can be so insanely plush yet also handle like a boss when you’re in the moon.
Spooky good fun, and mostly thanks to the active handling package with its millisecond-adjustable suspension.
Is it okay to fall in love with a test car? We certainly did with this next-gen X3 M40i. The engine is a dream on throttle and off — smoother than glass and packing serious turbo thrust at all times.
For those looking for bigger space inside but avoid the bulk and hulk of a full-size SUV like the X5, the X3 is just about perfect.
And for those coming out of true M cars but wanting something family-friendly? Perfect for that as well.
That “p” word keeps coming up for good reason: this car is just about perfect in every way.
Tom Burkart is the founder and managing editor of Car-Revs-Daily.com, an innovative and rapidly-expanding automotive news magazine.
He holds a Journalism JBA degree from the University of Wisconsin – Madison. Tom currently resides in Charleston, South Carolina with his two amazing dogs, Drake and Tank.
Mr. Burkart is available for all questions and concerns by email Tom(at)car-revs-daily.com.