2018 BMW X3 M40i SAV Test Drive

“2018 BMW X3 M40i SAV”
All-new Flagship X3 Joins the M Club
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The all-new 2018 BMW X3 M40i becomes the first M Performance model in the X3 stable, delivering the best in segment acceleration figure of 0-60 mph in 4.6 seconds and with a top track speed of 130 mph. It is being built alongside the BMW X4, X5 and X6 models in BMW’s Spartanburg, South Carolina plant, the Group’s largest global production facility.

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The first BMW X3 appeared in 2003 spearheading the premium compact Sports Activity Vehicle (SAV) segment. The new 2018 model X3 displays a bold design with dynamic elements that eschew performance blended with luxury.

Not a dedicated “M” model, the new BMW X3 M40i is rather an M-tuned vehicle with an M Aerodynamic kit, sporting a front apron with larger air intakes, side skirt trim, and a diffuser-style rear apron. Also included are Shadowline exterior trim and 19-inch M Double-Spoke Wheels with All-season Run Flat Tires or Performance Run Flat Tires. For a more dynamic BMW X3, M Double-Spoke 20-inch Wheels with Mixed Performance Run Flat Tires are optionally available as an upgrade. The interior includes a new M Sport leather steering wheel, M doorsill finishers and the SensaTec upholstered dashboard.

New for 2018, the X3 boasts a carefully developed chassis featuring a significant reduction in unsprung mass, more sophisticated kinematics and optimum weight distribution, which enhance its sporting capability along with an improvement in passenger comfort regardless of the terrain. Aerodynamics have been improved featuring BMWs Active Kidney Grille, underbody cladding, and a roof spoiler with Aero Blades on the sides along with Air Curtains.
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Visually this new third generation X3’s exterior design boosts the already bold and dynamic styling of its predecessor, blending a rugged off-road persona with a substantive presence. The exterior dimensions are largely unchanged, although the wheelbase is lengthened 2.2-inches. The long hood accommodates the inline engine and the front overhang is extremely short presenting proportions that are nicely balanced, emphasizing an ideal front to rear 50:50 weight distribution.

The front fascia features a muscular “three-dimensional” kidney grille and fog lights that form a hexagonal design. Moving aft, the tail light housings present a similar three-dimensional look with the optional Adaptive LED and iconic BMW Adaptive Full LED Headlights, serving up a considerable impact. The downward-sloping roof spoiler and twin exhaust tailpipes not only adding to the muscular appearance, but to the authoritative exhaust note as well.

The standard xLine design emphasizes the X3’s athleticism standing out with several trim elements in Satin aluminum, Silver matte, and 18-inch Y-Spoke wheels with All-season Run Flat Tires (19-inch V-Spoke wheels with All-season Run Flat Tires are available as an upgrade option). The interior gives the driver and front passenger standard Sport Seats that feature power adjustable side bolsters, along with an Anthracite headliner.

An optional Luxury Package, is available for the first time in the X3 model range, showcase an elegant character with features such as chrome kidney grille bars, two-tone exterior front and rear bumper trim finishing elements and a SensaTec upholstered dashboard interior.

Inside the cabin is a full-color Head-Up Display that is 75 percent larger, a 10.25-inch Touchscreen with BMW’s Gesture Control technology. Comfort and Safety features have been improved with an Active Protection pre-crash accident detection system, Sport seats that are standard fare, an automatic three-zone climate control as well as reclining rear seatbacks. Additionally, a factory-installed trailer hitch is available for the first time in a BMW SAV. The 2” receiver will allow the use of a broad range of BMW Accessories including tongues, drop tongues, towing balls, a step to help access roof mounted accessories and several varieties of bike racks.
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The driver-focused and ergonomically optimized cockpit layout of the X3’s interior serves up several new, comfort enhancing features not offered before, including the 3-zone automatic climate control, with separate temperature controls for the rear compartment in addition to those for the driver and front passenger. Rear compartment comfort is enhanced by the angle of the standard 40:20:40 split/folding rear seat backrests that may be adjusted individually and through various stages thanks to the standard cargo function. This feature allows the backrests to be released remotely from the load compartment, expanding the standard load capacity of 28.7 ft3 to 62.7 ft3. Newly available convenient functions include front ventilated seats for driver and front passenger. The interior benefits from a roomier feel with the 9.8-inch longer panoramic glass moonroof.
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Contour lighting above the trim strip in the instrument panel is included with the available Extended Ambient Lighting, directing a soft stream of light downwards from below the accent strip, lighting the cabin in a unique and relaxing ambience. At night, the iDrive display appears to be floating above the instrument panel. Six color tones are accessible.

Motive force comes from a longitudinally mounted front 3.0-liter M Performance TwinPower Turbo technology 6-cylinder inline engine placing the all-new BMW X3 M40i at the top end of the X3 model ladder. Horsepower measures 355 in a range from 5,500-6,500 rpm and torque is rated at 369-pound feet from1,520-4,800 rpm. Energy reaches the BMW xDrive all-wheel system via an 8HP50 Sport eight-speed automatic transmission with paddle shifters and launch Control. The powerful SAV scoots from 0 to 60 mph in 4.6 seconds. The X3 M40i also includes a wealth of model-specific set-up and equipment features, which both underpin and lend added impact to its performance credentials.
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The xDrive all-wheel-drive system now features a more pronounced rear bias than on the other model versions. The Performance Control feature integrated into the DSC system and acting on the rear wheels has been reconfigured producing pronounced agility and traction.

A new Driving Dynamics Control toggle switch offers an Adaptive Mode when the vehicle is equipped with Dynamic Damper Control in addition to configurations including, ECO PRO, COMFORT, SPORT and SPORT+ modes.

The power-assisted braking system features blue-painted aluminum four-piston fixed calipers up front with amply proportioned brake discs providing high levels of thermal resistance and delivering excellent stopping power despite their extremely low weight offering optimized performance as well as an Electric Parking Brake. An impressive array of electronic control systems aids maximized safety including: Driving Stability Control, Anti-lock Braking System, Dynamic Traction Control, Automatic Differential Brake, Cornering Brake Control, Dynamic Brake Control, Start-Off Assistant, Performance Control, and Hill Descent Control.
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The X3 M40i may be equipped with the available Adaptive M Sport suspension that covers an even wider spread of ride comfort featuring the sportiest set-up suspension available.

This latest iteration X3 delivers the same off-road prowess as its predecessor. The ground clearance is 8 inches. The approach angle is 23.1° and the departure angle is 21.4°, the breakover angle is17.4°. and the fording depth measures 19.6 inches.
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The 2018 BMW X3 is loaded with connectivity and infotainment features and equipment, including: Human Machine Interface through a refined system. In addition to the iDrive Controller fitted as standard, specifying the Navigation system Professional featuring iDrive 6.0 enhances the iDrive Controller with a 10.25” display with Touchscreen technology. The optional BMW Gesture Control, which debuted on the current BMW 7 Series, adds a unique way to interface with the X3. BMW Gesture Control allows numerous infotainment, communication, and navigation functions to be operated intuitively using finger and hand gestures. The vehicle can also be controlled using the cloud-based Intelligent Voice Control, which offers an advanced level of natural voice control currently available, enabling drivers to formulate their request in natural, everyday language instead of having to use a rigid set of spoken commands.

BMW’s Connected app is available on both iOS and Android, with the intelligent Open Mobility Cloud platform – the digital services connect to the BMW X3 via devices such as smartphones or smartwatches, resulting in seamless connectivity.

The selection of devices that can connect to the new BMW X3 by means of BMW Connected, go beyond the smartphone by supporting devices such as smart wearables like the Apple Watch and Samsung Gear (S2 and S3) to the Amazon Echo. Customers can use the Amazon Echo’s Alexa voice service to check the fuel level of their new X3, lock the vehicle or activate the ventilation function, all by voice control from the comfort of their home.

Navigation Professional, the Advanced Real-Time Traffic Information can continue to optimize your routing options. Car-to-car communication is now also employed within the inter-connected BMW fleet to provide advance warning of hazardous traffic situations. Information on any detected hazards presented by an accident, a broken-down vehicle, dense fog, heavy rain or black ice, for example, is also relayed to the BMW backend from where it is imported into the navigation system of both the driver’s car and other BMW vehicles in the vicinity.

Intelligent Emergency Call with automatic locating and accident severity detection. With the new BMW Teleservice Accident Assistance, Active Protection enhances passive safety by detecting potential accident situations as they arise. If a collision risk is detected, the system automatically triggers a variety of occupant protection measures. The driver’s and front passenger’s belt tensioners are activated, and the windows and Panoramic moonroof are closed. Following a collision, Active Protection automatically brings the vehicle to a standstill. The Frontal Collision Warning function detects an imminent risk of collision with vehicles ahead, and prepares the vehicle systems for a possible impact from vehicles behind.

The ParkNow service, available in iDrive, allows the location of parking spaces at the roadside and in parking garages to be easily located, booked and paid for without the need for cash. In-car integration of ParkNow is initially available in select cities nationwide. Visit www.park-now.com for details.

The options list includes a WiFi hotspot offering a high-speed internet connection (LTE) for up to ten mobile devices. Apple CarPlay is also available and can be used wirelessly. The driver can seamlessly switch between BMW and Apple CarPlay via the iDrive controller or touchscreen interface if so equipped.

Driver assistance and semi-automated driving, include all the systems currently offered by BMW, such as the latest generation of Active Cruise Control, with Stop & Go, whose capabilities include braking the car to a halt in stop-and-go traffic and automatically restarting to drive.

The Driving Assistance Package includes Active Blind Spot Protection, Lane Departure Warning, Daytime Pedestrian Protection, and Frontal Collision Warning with City Collision Mitigation, Cross Traffic Alert rear, and Speed Limit Info in the Navigation system. The Driving Assistant Plus Package offers additional comfort features: Active Cruise Control with Stop & Go, Active Lane Keeping Assistant with Side Collision Avoidance, Traffic Jam Assistant, Evasion Aid & Cross Traffic alert front and rear.
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The optional Head-Up Display allows important driving-related information to be projected directly into the driver’s field of vision. Another unique feature that the all-new BMW X3 boasts over its competitors is the Remote 3D View function, which may be used to beam a 360-degree, three-dimensional view of the car’s immediate vicinity directly to a smartphone through the BMW Connected App.

My test 2018 BMW X3 M40i sported an exterior finish of Phytonic Blue metallic while the interior was executed in Cognac Vernesca leather seating with charcoal accents. Trim elements for the doors and instrument panel were done in a machined metal pattern. The base price was set at $54,300., while the as tested sticker rose to $65,045. after factoring in extras and the Destination Charge. Extras included: the metallic paint; Cognac Vernesca leather seating; Driving Assistance Package; Premium Package; Executive Package; Adaptive M Suspension; 20-inch performance tires; Apple CarPlay Compatibility; and Wireless Charging.

SUMMARY: Driving the new 2018 BMW X3 M40i is a much more exhilarating and pleasurable experience than piloting that first X3, which was extremely firm and somewhat of a boneshaker. This latest X3 still delivers a firm ride, but with a more comfortable compliance and stability.

The acceleration is incredible with instant response when nailing the throttle and the exhaust brapping when lifting off the throttle is almost as enjoyable, especially when dialing the Sport Plus mode, which elevates the thrill factor with a drivetrain aggressiveness and adaptive suspension settings. Gear changes come quickly in either a fully automatic mode or in manual mode utilizing the paddle shifters.

Body roll is minimal and braking is positive when diving into corners and the optional 20-inch Pirelli P-Zeros stick like glue. Cornering maneuvers are enhanced by the updated xDrive all-wheel drive system with its lighter rear diff , improved transfer case and added rear torque bias.

The Sport Plus setting’s ride quality is extremely firm and the escalated overall vehicle performance requires strict but rewarding attention. To relieve stress and “on edge” alertness, there’s the Comfort mode and Adaptive Cruse Control.
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Bottom line, the BMW X3 M40i is not only an SAV, but it’s an SUV as well delivering versatility and functionality with 28.7 cubic feet of cargo space aft of the 40/20/40 split second row rear seats. Having the backseats folded flat, space increases to 62.7 cubic feet and the 4,400 pound towing capability ups the practicality quotient.
The base model 2.0-liter powered X3 is likely to be more popular in terms of sales than the M40i and a diesel engine is slated later on during the model year, but for the highest level of driving enjoyment, the BMW X3 M40i delivers e-ticket performance and is definitely the way to go.

SPECIFICATIONS: 2018 BMW X3 4.0i

Base Price: $54,300.
Price as Tested: $65,045.

Engine Type and Size: 3.0- liter BMW TwinPower Turbo technology / M Performance TwinPower Turbo technology: TwinScroll turbocharger, High Precision Direct Injection, VALVETRONIC fully variable valve control lift, Double-VANOS variable camshaft timing

Horsepower (bhp): 355 @ 5,500-6,500 rpm
Torque (ft./ lbs.): 369 @ 1,520-4,800 rpm

Transmission: 8HP50 Sport eight-speed automatic with paddle shifters.

Drive Train: Longitudinally mounted front engine / xDrive all-wheel system.

Suspension: Front – Aluminum double-joint spring strut axle
Rear – Five-link with light weight steel axle

Brakes: Power-assisted four wheel vented discs with ABS, DSC incl. ABS, DTC CBC (Cornering Brake Control), DBC (Dynamic Brake Control), Dry Braking function, Fading Compensation, Start-Off Assistant, DSC networked with xDrive all-wheel-drive system, Hill Descent Control,Performance Control and optional Dynamic Damper Control.

Tires: Pirelli P-Zero 245/45 R20 103W front / 275/40 R20 106W mounted on 5-stylized “V”: machine faced with painted inners.

Wheelbase: 112.8 inches
Length Overall: 186.1 inches
Width: 74.7 inches
Height: 66.0 inches
Curb Weight: 4,277 lbs.
Turning Circle: 39.7 ft.
Fuel Capacity: 17.2 gallons
EPA Mileage Estimates: 20 mpg city / 27 mpg highway
Drag Coefficient: 0.33
0 – 60 mph: 4.6 seconds-Top Track Speed=130 mph

Arv Voss is a Northern California based freelance motoring Journalist and member and past officer of several noted Automotive Journalist organizations who contributes regularly to a number of national and international media outlets. He reviews not only cars, trucks and SUVs, but motorcycles and unusual wheeled vehicles as well.

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