What a pleasure to drive! That was our feeling when we stepped out of the BMW X3; every SUV should drive as this one does in an ideal world. It is that good! Our test vehicle has an MSRP of $88297 and is manufactured at the Spartanburg plant in Greer, SC.
BMW first introduced the X3 in 2003, but they launched the current generation in 2017, and it still feels contemporary. The lines on the vehicle are sharp and clean, especially on the sides with bulges over the wheels to make it look even bigger. The red M brake callipers are hard to miss, thus reminding everyone that this is a serious performance SAV. In front, the massive air intakes over the grille feed air to the engine, and the black accents on the Brooklyn Grey metallic colour stand out and make the vehicle even meaner.
When you open the doors of the X3, you can't miss the Fiona Red and Black Merino Leather. There are beautiful stitchings in the four main seats; BMW didn't cut corners to make this SUV appealing both inside and out. The seats, the headrests, the armrest, and the doors have a lot of red accents all over the place. The heated M steering wheel feels nice and firm. An appreciated touch in this SUV focused on the Sports side of the acronym. The fully digital 12.3" screen with the full-screen map display is very reactive, and Apple Carplay and Android Auto are available wirelessly, which is neat. There's also a section focused on performance, where you can see the power and torque in real-time and other information. We also like that BMW kept many physical buttons to control basic commands such as the heated seats and temperature underneath the screen with a smaller display that always shows the temperature selection. Under this panel, you'll also find the volume buttons, the presets, and skip track; at any time.
As for the rest of the interior, it is pretty roomy. The BMW X3 seats five people, and everyone will be pleased to sit for all trips. Even though this is the M40i version and comes with sportier seats, there's no compromise compared to the PHEV version. It's a great combination of plush and support, excellent for the spirited driving that this vehicle is capable of. The same can be said about the back seats, which are also comfortable and tight. Adults can sit in the back without too much trouble. ISOFIX ports are easy to reach, and attaching car seats is nearly effortless. Rear occupants get their climate zone and heated seats for the sides. The trunk is roomy. Overall, the X3 is a good family car and performant.
Now getting into the nitty-gritty of the X3 M40i, the numbers are astounding. The X3 combines a turbocharged 6-cylinder with a 48-volt mild hybrid system. The engine transfers an impressive 382hp and 369lb-ft of torque to all four wheels with the 8-speed automatic transmission. As a result, it can reach 100km/h from a still stand in 4.5 seconds. BMW's AWD system is known for being rear-wheel biased, resulting in a driver-centric experience. Putting the vehicle in Sport mode will catapult you to the front of the crowd in no time, and you won't believe it weighs two tons. The Pirelli Scorpion winter tires did an excellent job of keeping the vehicle planted and stable on icy roads, so big thumbs up on that as well. On the highway, the TwinPower system with the 48-volt battery boosts the vehicle when you want to pass someone. The boost is available instantaneously and improves the driving dynamics of the car.
When you opt for a BMW vehicle, your main focus is handling, and the X3 M40i is no exception. The steering is very connected to the road. There's a lot of feedback whenever you're on twisty roads; it brings passion to a midsize family SUV. The xDrive system keeps the vehicle in place during turns at high speeds and can get you out of a pickle if you're stuck in the snow, for example. The suspension on the X3 is firm and adapted to the vehicle's sporty feel while also being quite comfy on the highway. We are talking about an M product, so we were never worried about the driving experience. Braking is also a strong suit; this SUV stops with ease whenever you need it to feel safe while having fun with it.
Our only complaint about this version of the popular X3 lineup would be fuel consumption. The 48-volt battery is purely for a boost and the start-stop system. BMW announces 10.3L/100km combined city and highway; in reality, that number is much higher in combined driving. On the highway, you can expect to be around 9L/100km when cruising at permitted speeds and about 15L/100km in the city. We observed the numbers while outside temperatures oscillated between +8C and -11C.
It's hard to find a complaint since it is a great SUV all-around. There's plenty of space for everyone and their luggage, fine interior materials, and, most importantly, power from the powertrain. You will get your money's worth in terms of luxury and practicality. No wonder it's BMW's best-selling vehicle in North America.
BMW has lent us this vehicle for one week as a press vehicle. We have no affiliation with BMW Canada. The above is a recollection of our personal opinion of the car referred above.