When we tested the BMW X3 M40i a few months ago, we claimed it to have some of the best steering of any modern BMW. In fact, I personally claimed it to be my favorite steering BMW on the market, more than even the BMW M3. We also claimed that it just had this old-school BMW feel to it. There’s a delicacy and a tactility to the X3 M40i. It feels more like an old-school sporty Bimmer more than any other modern BMW I’ve felt and it’s shocking because it comes from an X3. Some readers felt we were crazy. Turns out, though, we’re not. Car and Driver just drove the BMW X3 M40i and had similar feelings.
The opening line of C&D’s review reads like this: “Whether by corporate edict, insurgent engineers’ secret fiddling, or pure accident, the 2018 BMW X3 has some of the driving satisfaction and excellent execution that once characterized every BMW.”
It is indeed confusing that the X3 M40i is the most old-school BMW-like BMW on the current market, as it’s a sporty, mid-sized crossover. Though, it doesn’t really matter what package that magic comes in, so long as it comes at all. “However it came about, the result is a refreshing whiff of dynamic nostalgia encased in a modern wrapper.” said C&D.
The BMW X3 M40i is the M Performance variant of the new G01 X3. That means it packs a turbocharged 3.0 liter I6 engine, making 355 hp and 369 lb-ft of torque, an eight-speed automatic gearbox, xDrive all-wheel drive and a sportier suspension setup. It also gets sharper steering, better brakes and stickier tires. So everything about the X3 M40i is turned up a notch over the standard car to make it seem sportier. But this isn’t an unusual formula for BMW, as the Bavarians do the same thing to the BMW M240i, X4 M40i and M550i. None of which feel as good or as properly-BMW as the X3 M40i. So why does a hot X3 feel more like an E46 3 Series than the current F30 3 Series does?
We honestly, don’t know. BMW seems to have sprinkled some magic onto the steering rack, suspension and chassis, as we really don’t understand it. Though, we don’t really care why, we just want to enjoy it. So does C&D. “Blending everyday usefulness, relatively stealthy looks, and some strands of BMW DNA with no effect on comfort, the M40i is compelling for newcomers to the brand and fanboys alike. We hope that BMW quickly spreads the same thinking to more of its lineup.”[Source: Car and Driver]