2018 BMW X3 M40i – First Ride

BMW X3 | July 9th, 2017 by 26
BMW X3 M40i ride 04 830x553

While in Spartanburg for the launch of the new BMW X3, the German automaker has granted us a few hot laps aboard the X3 M40i, …

While in Spartanburg for the launch of the new BMW X3, the German automaker has granted us a few hot laps aboard the X3 M40i, the top X3 model until the fully-developed X3 M arrives to the market. BMW Chief Driving Instructor Matt Mullins, Clive Owen’s double in the latest BMW film, “The Escape”, jumped behind the steering wheel and promised us an exciting drive. The interesting tidbit was that BMW driving instructors were also seeing the car for the first time, so in a way, we were both eager to see its potential.

BMW X3 M40i ride 01 830x553

BMW X3 M40i ride 02 830x553

Under its hood lies a variant of BMW’s B58 3.0 liter turbocharged I6 engine, similar to what’s in the BMW M240i. However, where the M240i has 335 hp and 369 lb-ft of torque, the X3 M40i gets 355 hp and the same amount of torque. It’s paired with BMW’s ZF-sourced, sport-tuned eight-speed automatic transmission and a more performance oriented xDrive system. According to BMW, it can get from 0-60 mph in 4.6 seconds, making it the fastest car in its class.

Stiffer suspension and more sport tuned damping, along with bigger M Sport brakes, should make the X3 M40i handle and stop as well as it goes. Thanks to its CLAR platform, the G01 X3 is also lighter than its predecessor – by about 100 lbs – despite a slightly longer wheelbase – 2.2 inches.

The aerodynamics have also been improved, thanks to a sportier front-end and sleeker roofline – 0.33 drag coefficient compared to the 0.36 in the current model.

Therefore, the X3 M40i should be a monster drive on the track. Mullins gives us a quick sound check before we head out on the short, yet fun to drive circuit at the BMW M Performance Center in Spartanburg. The one thing that immediately stands out is the deep sound of the exhaust system, as the car rolls out on the track. Engineers told us that the engine was tuned to misfire one cylinder to make the proper growling sound.

Mullins now floors the gas pedal as we fly – literarily – through the first corner before landing firmly on the ground as we enter the next bend where the X3 M40i stands out with its little body rolls and stiff suspensions. The rear-biased xDrive is what you’d expect from a BMW sporty SUV, so the feel of a proper sports car is immediately noticeable.

Our attempts to film the ride with our iPhone were unsuccessful, a statement to the spirited drive by Mullins who throws the car from corner to corner with a smile on his face and barely two hands on the wheel. The car responds well to his inputs and according to the professional driver, the steering feedback shows up, just as you’d expect from an M-tuned car.

The turbo lag is also minimal and as soon as torque kicks in, the car pushed forward with ease, and quickly rises to 60 mph, or past that. The eight-speed automatic responds quickly and crisply to the paddle shifters, while the M Performance brakes quickly and promptly stop the powerful SUV.

The ride aboard the X3 M40i is coming to an end, but one thing was immediately clear – the X3 M40i is a proper sports SUV, with great looks, premium materials, impressive sound and performance, and until the X3 M arrives, it will be one of the most fun BMW SUVs to drive. Overall, the driving experience is similar to the X4 M40i, but for some reason, the new X3 seems more refined and more fun to ride in it. At least until we get to actually drive the car…

26 responses to “2018 BMW X3 M40i – First Ride”

  1. Kaisuke971 says:

    Are you sure this X3 is lighter ? Because Road&Track said that the G01 is actually heavier than the previous gen, this M40i being 47lbs more on the scale than the xDrive 35i. I know it sounds off for a new BMW, but it’s a pretty big magazine.


  2. Pevvex says:

    Impressive sound ? U mean impressive speaker sound.
    Seems like still only M/M performance BMW car without terrible fake engine sound is still X6M/X5M.

    • Horatiu B. says:

      Nope. Check our YouTube channel and you can hear the sound from the outside. I’ll link it in the article also.

    • Kaisuke971 says:

      The B58 is literally that one BMW engine that is universally praised for its exhaust note lol

      • bmw driver says:

        And the N55B30TO in the M2. If anything this X3 sounds like a muted M2, which is a good thing and hopefully a sign that the current generation of mostly crappy sounding m cars will come to an end sooner rather than later.

      • Will ._.Var says:

        Agreed. Anyone who thinks that the B58 doesn’t sound good needs their hearing checked. IMO it is nicer and more natural than the barky nature of the 43 models from MB. Classic in-line 6 is what BMW do best.

    • Terry Cowan says:

      Yes, because inline 6’s are known for sounding bad. Like the 1st M3 – a 4 cyl.

  3. Will ._.Var says:

    Great write up Horatiu, hopefully your experience in the passenger seat is just as good in the driver’s seat when you drive the X3.

  4. Nipho19 says:

    Finally looks like a BMW Worth wanting to own! X1 and X3 are finally good looking

  5. Blake Everts says:

    Let’s not BS each other. There is not and will not be an ounce of steering feel or feedback in this car. Like all modern BMW’s the steering will be accurate but that’s about it.

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