Hauling the mail is an antique slang expression not so much in vogue anymore. Used to imply that an object, or even a person was capable of moving at a high rate of speed, it is a perfectly appropriate expression for the 2018 BMW X3 M40i Sport Activity Vehicle. Now into its third generation, this cargo-toting hot-rod manages to incorporate legendary BMW M technology and the ability to carry five passengers all day.
Refinement, inside and out.
With the 2018 version, BMW has taken the newly redesigned base X3 and dragged it through the M high-performance garden, if you will, and the results are impressive. Now longer and wider, it includes a new uprated powerplant that raises above the standard 2.0-liter BMW TwinPower Turbocharged engine, Instead, our X3 M40i is powered by a 3.0-liter M-Performance TwinPower Turbocharged engine making 355 horsepower and 369 lb-ft of torque. All that power makes its way to the X3’s intelligent all-wheel-drive system through a sporty eight-speed automatic transmission.
Our X3 M40i rides on the available Adaptive M Suspension that allows the user to select between Comfort, Normal, Sport and Sport+ settings as far as engine mapping and shift points are concerned. Drive settings are available that range from Cushy to Ultra Firm. We chose the Sport setting that allowed us to cut a fast corner almost without any body roll. We dug the way the way the X3 went all throaty on us when we placed the setting in Sport or Sport+ for a throaty growl from the black-chrome tailpipe finishers coming out of the rear bumper.
A BMW without the full suite of dynamic driver assists would just not be the ultimate driving machine. Even if it did speak German with a southern accent thanks to having been built at BMW’s Plant Spartanburg in South Carolina. Not to disappoint, this X3 M40i was equipped with dynamic traction control, cornering brake control, dynamic brake control, dry braking function, brake fading compensation, hill descent control, dynamic damper control and dynamic stability control that is networked with the xDrive all-wheel-drive system.
Blue M-Sport brake calipers gave the X3 an extra aggressive appearance that was only improved by 20-inch Pirelli P-Zero performance tires on Orbit wheels.
The interior of the 2018 BMW X3 M40i features a driver-centric cockpit that is specifically canted towards the tillerman so that all controls are an easy reach from the driver. A new generation of iDrive is here (we’ve come to expect it with every succeeding generation), this time more intuitive than ever, with a finger scroll surface to spell out entries via a finger’s touch. A three-zone climate control feature offers individual climate controls for the driver, passenger and rear seat occupants.
Behind the wheel
With power there as soon as you need it, the 3.0-liter inline turbocharged six offered power that was bountiful and impressive at the same time. Obviously adept at blistering the tires, it managed to tick off 0-60 mph in 4.6-seconds, which BMW says is the fastest in the X3’s segment.
Deep Throated. While driving the M40i as intended, we found the auditory note from M-performance exhaust system to be more like a growl. And we weren’t bitchin’ either. Our only wish was that it could be on all the time, rather than just when the engine was pushed.
As we found in Sport mode, the BMW X3 M40i was a firm, but smooth operator. Just as we like it. But that’s the desired characteristic needed when exercising this sport activity vehicle. Torque vectoring through BMW’s Cornering Brake Control, helped shorten the turning radius, allowing for quicker entry and exits from the turns themselves.
The Wrap Up
The 2018 BMW X3 M40i is BMW hollering at the world that just because you need a family hauler doesn’t mean you need to look like a tool in a minivan. In this case, the team from Munich, by way of Spartanburg, will have you looking like the sharpest knife in the drawer.
Story and photos by Mark Elias
2018 BMW X3 M40i
Cylinders: 6-cylinder inline
Power: 355 hp @ 5,500-6,500 rpm
Torque: 369 lb-ft @ 1,520-4,800 rpm
Fuel System: Gas Direct Injection
Fuel: 89 Octane
Acceleration: 0-60mph in 4.6 seconds
Drive Type Rear Biased AWD
Gearbox: 8-speed M Performance Automatic Transmission
Tire Size: 20-inch Pirelli P-Zero
Unladen Weight: 4,277-pounds
Cargo Volume: 62.7 cubic feet rear seat folded
28.7 cubic feet rear seat up
Fuel Economy: 20 city / 27 highway / 23 combined