The third generation BMW X3 has long been one of my personal favourite SUVs for its combination of handsome looks, engaging driving dynamics, and quite simply the right size for my family. The X3 nameplate has also evolved into a neat ecosystem that consists of a high-performance track star, a fuel-efficient plug-in hybrid, and even an electric version called the iX3 for overseas markets. My favourite of the lineup is what you see this week – the 2022 BMW X3 M40i xDrive that strikes a fine balance between daily usability and performance driving.
The BMW X3 sports a fresh mid-cycle facelift for the 2022 model year. It features reworked lighting elements and body sculpture that keep it looking sharp in the popular compact luxury crossover segment. It shares close resemblance with the larger X5 sibling but the refresh injects a splash of sportiness and gives it some much needed visual distinction.
The interior of the 2022 BMW X3 has also received a makeover with an updated centre console and infotainment software. The layout is the same as the current 3-series, meaning it is clean and easy to use. The multi-function touch-capacitive shortcut keys are still one of the best interior features in the market and the latest iDrive infotainment system is my personal favourite to use.
Infotainment commands are entered using the rotary dial or touchscreen, or simply by talking to the voice-activated BMW Intelligent Personal Assistant system. It gets activated by the ‘Hey BMW’ prompt, and is intuitive enough to understand a variety of commands spoken in your own words. If that is still not easy enough, drivers can turn to Apple CarPlay or Android Auto and enjoy music from the excellent Harman-Kardon surround sound system that our tester is optioned with.
In the Canadian market, the X3 comes with four distinct powertrains – a 292-hp plug-in hybrid, a 2.0-litre turbocharged four that outputs 252 horses, the sporty turbocharged-six that we have here, and the range-topping 503-horsepower engine in the X3 M. Power output on the M40i is rated at 382 horsepower, with maximum torque of 369 lb-ft. With the help of a quick shifting eight-speed Steptronic Sport automatic transmission, zero to 100 km/h can be achieved in as little as 4.8 seconds, all while planting occupants firmly in the seats.
I reckon the M40i is the most suitable daily driver in the X3 lineup for enthusiasts. 382 horses are plenty for the streets and the slightly calmer characteristic when compared to the X3 M is welcomed. It also has the right balance of handling and comfort for those not out chasing lap times – it feels considerably nimbler than majority of the competition without sacrificing livability, and the suspension tuning is far more livable than the full M products.
There is a wide variety of adjustability including the ability to individually control the X3’s engine tuning, transmission, dampening and steering response, with the Sport preset being my personal favourite setup. Turning on the Sport engine response also opens up its exhaust valves, complementing the driving experience with sonorous pops and crackles.
Fuel consumption is rated at 11.2L/100km in the city and a frugal 7.6L/100km on the highway for a combined 8.9L/100km. My road test was performed on a city-heavy setting in wintry weather resulting in an 11.0L/100km consumption rating, matching my expectation. The X3 M40i requires premium 91-octane fuel for its 65-litre tank.
Interior space is adequate for both rows of occupants with good head and legroom, and the rear seats are adjustable with the optional Premium package. The large side windows and optional panoramic sunroof created an airy feeling inside and I especially like that the seats are comfortable for extended trips – the lack of bucket seats like the set found in the X3 M is appreciated in a commuter. Cargo capacity is rated at 550 litres behind the second row and can expand to 1,600 litres with it folded.
My tester is equipped with the Advanced Driver Assistance Package that adds Traffic Jam Assistant and Driving Assistant Professional for a semi-autonomous driving experience. With these features, the X3 M40i is able maintain its speed and distance from the vehicle ahead while staying centered in its driving lane, make lane changes on its own with the flick of its turn signal stalk, and also mitigate potential accidents.
The 2022 BMW X3 starts at $66,990 for the base M40i model, and in typical German fashion, the price balloons quickly to $84,335 as-tested once options come into play. My tester had included the $7,900 Premium Package Enhanced, $2,000 Advanced Driver Assistance Package, $3,000 for the two-tone Merino leather interior, $1,200 digital instrument cluster, and several aesthetic enhancements.
The 2022 BMW X3 M40i xDrive is a worthy competitor to its German counterparts such as the Mercedes-AMG GLC 43 4MATIC, and the latest refresh certainly extends its appeal in this hotly contested market. There is a dark horse lurking though – the Genesis GV70 – and we expect it to give these popular luxury crossovers a run for their money. Time will tell whether the X3 M40i can fend off this newest competition but for now, it has kept up its charm to continue reigning supreme in my books.