Driven: BMW X3 M40i
Since its introduction the X3 has grown in popularity, so much so that BMW South Africa converted its iconic Rosslyn Plant from 3 Series production to X3 production for local and international markets. Now the current model has been given a refresh and we got behind the wheel to fully expose ourselves to what the refreshed X3 in M40i guise has to offer.
Let’s be honest here, BMW has been releasing a few questionably designed cars lately, the X3 is, thankfully not one of them. This refreshed model or LCI (Life Cycle Impulse) benefits from subtle yet noticeable styling changes. Up front you will notice a redesigned bumper as well as a slightly bigger, 1-piece kidney grille. There are also slimmer LED headlights as well as redesigned tail-light clusters, which clearly distinguish the updated X3 from other BMW SUV models.
Staying with the rear you might also notice the newly designed rear section just above the tail lights which emphasises the horizontal lines. Lower down is newly designed underbody protection for a rugged look.
The X3 M40i has been garnished with a few M-specific items to distinguish it from the rest of the line-up. These include a more aggressive front bumper and M double bars on the grille, aerodynamic M side mirrors, a sportier rear bumper, exclusive 21” M light alloy wheels and larger tailpipes. All of this has been further complemented by various M-badges. Our test unit proudly displayed the 50th anniversary-themed badges, a nice touch.
Inside the X3 it’s a quality affair as usual. Not much has changed from the previous model but if you look a little closer you will notice a newly designed 12.3” touch display as standard as well as a newly designed centre console with the current iDrive controller as well as a new gear-lever. We particularly like the digital instrument cluster and the fact that paddle shifters are now standard across the range as well for a more engaging driving experience.
The interior is further enhanced thanks to ambient lighting, quality materials, leather trim and silver inserts which contrast well with that of the gloss black elements throughout the cabin. As always, space is impressive with a luggage capacity of around 550-litres which can be increased to 1600l when you lower the rear seats.
For the power hungry and those wanting aural excitement then the M40i is a must. It is powered by a 3.0-litre in-line six cylinder turbocharged motor that develops 285kW and 500Nm of torque, it will reach 100kph from standstill in around 4.5 seconds. Show it some corners and an eager right foot and the X3 M40i does not disappoint.
Overall the X3 remains a winning formula and the refresh has now just modernised the overall package ever so slightly. Both the X3 20d and the M40i impressed with decent ride quality, features and performance. We will still opt for the 30d model however the 20d will most probably be the most popular offering within the range.