We’re excited to announce a new partnership with Cooper BMW Colchester and bring you our first review of the new BMW X3 M40i.
Let me start by giving you a brief insight as to why we’ve chosen to begin with this car.
From an early age I’ve always been a big BMW enthusiast, having previously owned one and with several in the family over the years (I had a 325 Convertible prior to Ralphie arriving). However, in the past few years I felt that they’d lost their mojo slightly, and we’d actually gone over to Audi for the past 6 or so years. I can’t explain what it was, but I just felt they’d lost their kind of special-ness.
So when the lovely Scot at Coopers Colchester phoned us for an initial chat and he could understand the kind of cars that I liked, he straight away said to me ‘why don’t you try our X3 M40i, see what you think?’
I quickly hopped online to do a bit of research and see what this might be about, as I’d never even considered an X3, seeing them as a bit dull in previous years. But then two figures stood out to me. 354 horse power and 0-62mph in 4.8 seconds…. Am I reading this right? Four point eight seconds to sixty two miles per hour?! For a small SAV (Sports Activity Vehicle)?!
I think I may like this car….
On The Road Price £53,835
Our Car As Tested £57,200.01
500 Nm torque @ 1,520rpm
0-62mpg in 4.8 seconds
Manufacturers claimed fuel consumtion 25.7-26.6mpg
CO2 emissions combined 206 g/km. First year VED £1240,£140 per year thereafter
VED band K
Insurance group 40
As we arrived to Cooper BMW Colchester, we were greeted by the lovely reception staff and showed over to the waiting area and brought coffees for us and juice for Ralphie. It’s a nice touch that most dealerships do now think about catering for the kids too as most the time they’re in tow. Obviously with all my excitement I couldn’t just sit and wait so I had a wander around the showroom to take a look at the lovely cars on show. The new M5 Competition certainly caught my eye. If you’re not after an SAV style family car, this could be the perfect super family saloon surely? Also on show were the new Z4 and 8 Series which have only recently been released. Both very nice additions to the range.
Meanwhile, Ralphie had spotted a little ride on BMW which he was more than happy pushing himself around the showroom on, with some of the staff having a laugh watching him choose which of the cars he liked. Most of the time it was ‘blue car’.
Scot then showed us outside to the forecourt where our loan car was waiting. On first glance, it’s certainly a very smart looking car the X3, but it definitely doesn’t scream ‘look at me’. Which actually, if you know your fast BMW’s, this is what they’re all about. They do look the part, but if you didn’t know your cars, this could go right under your radar. This is all part of the appeal.
The first few things you will notice straight away are the upgraded 21” Cerium grey M double spoked wheels, with the big blue M brake calipers visibly on show behind these. You do actually get 20” M light alloy double spoke style as standard, but after seeing some of these online, the bigger wheel upgrade does make all the difference.
These upgraded wheels actually come as part of the M Sport Plus Package, a £2000 option. As well as the wheels, you also get Adaptive M sport suspension, sun protection glass, and a Harman/Kardon surround sound loudspeaker system.
It’s obviously personal preference, but we would always go for a car with sun protection glass/privacy glass as we just feel it finishes off the look of the car, and actually it does help Ralphie in the back when the sun is glaring through, it makes a notable difference for him. Ralphie is just over two years old and apart from the odd occasion, we’ve actually never bothered with the sun visor nets that most people tend to put on their cars. Can’t have them affecting the look of our car now can we? In all seriousness though, it’s just never been an issue for us.
Music is also a big thing in the car, especially as now Ralphie is copying us every time we say ‘hey Siri’, he’s definitely enjoying music more and more. This Harman/Kardon system has a 600 watt digital amplifier, vehicle-specific equalising and loudspeakers with chrome detailing. We haven’t tried the car without this option, but after experiencing the clarity, bass and sound of this, I think it’s a definite yes from us.
After Scot sat in the car with us to show us how the features worked and talked through them, we spent a few minutes having a wander around the car and just taking it all in for the first time.
As you go round the back, you’ll notice some rather large dual, quadrilateral exhaust tailpipes with black chrome finish. Which works even better combined with the black sapphire paintwork. Complete with the M aerodynamic bodystyling, it is a mean looking machine. The exterior trim is finished in high gloss shadowline, which basically means all the bits that would be chrome around the windows is actually a gloss black – much, much better. You’ll then notice that the kidney grill at the front, mirror caps, air breather and front air inlets are finished in Serium grey embellished. Now for anyone that knows their fast BMW’s, this is a tell-tale sign it’s a fast one.
Scot then left us to get comfortable, hinted to me that Sport mode was good fun, without giving too much away. I noticed a full tank of petrol, and the excitement began….
As soon as you open the driver’s door of the car, you know that you’re in something special and luxurious. One of the first few things I picked up on were the lovely black with blue stitching Vernasca leather sports seats, which even have a little M badge stitched on too – a nice premium touch. Seat heating in the front is standard too, which is a big thumbs up from us, especially in this weather. Ambient lighting is standard, and being the sucker for fancy lights or LED’s that I am, this was very welcome indeed. Once you go into the cars entertainment system you can actually choose the colour that you want. We found that during the day blue worked really well, matching the blue stitching on the seats. However at night, we tended to opt for orange lighting which created a nice warm glow, matching the digital dials for the climate control etc. Incidentally these dials are actually white in the daytime, and change to orange in the dark so it’s easier on your eyes.
Jump in the driver’s seat and it’s clear to tell you’re in a car with sporting pretences. You can position the seat nice and low with the steering wheel adjusted close to you. This car had electric front seats with driver memory. What’s nice though is that even with the seat low; you’re obviously still sitting higher than you would be in say an M4 for example. So actually, vision over the bonnet is extremely good and you can place the car brilliantly. A nice touch is also a couple of power bulges at either side of the bonnet, giving the car a real muscular feel. The lumbar support on the seats is adjustable too, so depending on the type of driving you can either have the side bolsters quite tight, supporting you in the seat, or loosen them up if you want to feel less restricted. Personally I like to have them hugging me tight.
Once I’d got myself comfortable, I noticed that even though the instrument cluster does have some shape to it, it’s actually a fully digital cockpit. So the whole dial is digital - and a standard feature on the M40i. Very crisp and clean. Each display changes based on which driving mode you’ve chosen. These range from Sport, Comfort, Eco Pro and Adaptive.
If you choose Eco Pro you’ll get shown your speed on the left up to 80mph, then on the right you’ll be shown your fuel consumption, and any times you’re helping to regenerate energy. I’ll go more into this in the driving section of the blog. Choose Comfort and you’ll get a classic speedmoter display. So a full speed and rev dial. Select Sport and the speedometer goes up in 40mph increments, along with a full rev range. But this time in the middle of the rev counter it will show you what gear you’re in, if you‘ve chosen to select gears yourself.
This car had the Head-Up Display too, a £895 option. This is a pretty nifty bit of technology. It’s full colour and will show you several different things on the screen. Your speed is always shown, and then depending on what you’re doing it will show you various other commands too. If you have the sat nav on it will show you instructions. And I’m not talking basic instructions, it will actually show you a little diagram of the road and even has the road signs in the colour they actually are. You can also scroll through your music or radio stations too, so you really don’t need to take your eye off the road.
With this test, Scot loaned us the BMW Junior Seat 1 for us to test with Ralphie in the car. At £240.01 for the seat and £167.00 for the Isofix base it is up there with the premium car seats. But obviously given that it’s BMW branded, you would expect this kind of price. This seat is suitable from approximately 12 months to 4years old (approx. 9-18kg) and can be installed facing forwards or backwards. There are patented air bags which guarantee good protection against impact to the head area in case of an accident. The ergonomic padding and skin friendly, washable cloth ensure baby always travels in comfort. And I must say that Ralphie seems to have been comfortable every time he’s been in the seat. It’s obviously a bit more difficult to put him into a chair that doesn’t swivel like our normal car seats, but it’s always nice to try something different. However, given that this is a fairly tall SAV, you won’t find yourself bending down to put your child into the car, at least they’re going to be level with you are, which makes it an easy task.
Talking of car seats, that get’s me onto Isofix points in cars. You may have read in our Macan blog that I said I just don’t understand why some car manufacturers make it so bloody hard to find the Isofix points. Some are tucked in the crease of the leather between the bottom and the back – how ridiculous! As we find in most German cars, this isn’t the case. They’ve thought of this. It’s no different in the BMW. As opposed to having covers that clip off, this actually has covers that all you need to do is push your Isofix brackets into and the cover goes inwards – so there’s never any chance you’re going to lose the covers. Great idea! It’s therefore really easy to get the car seat clicked in.
General space inside the X3 is good and ample. We haven’t once said that we’ve needed more space whilst we’ve had the car. We can get both the drivers and passengers seat comfortable with plenty of room still in the back. Speaking of the back, we’ve had two adults and Ralphie’s car seat in there. Obviously that’s never going to have masses of room but its been ample. This car didn’t have rear seat heating but you can have it as an option. I think if it was my choice I’d probably also spec the £1,190 panoramic glass sunroom. I just think they’re a really cool feature and having more natural light in the car is always a good thing.
Boot space stands at 550 litres so slightly more than the Macan, but I wouldn’t say it’s a noticeable difference. Both can fit in everything we needed to. We never had any problems fitting our prams in the boot and any baby bags or shopping bags that we needed to. A last minute airport run was no problem either, fitting four adults, one child, two big suitcases and a couple of hand luggage bags with ease and in comfort.
So how would I sum up our driving experience over the 10 days and around 700 miles we covered?
Well, we used the car for various things on all sorts of different roads and occasions, but let me start with our first impressions.
One thing I noticed straight away, was that I could instantly get comfortable and place the car extremely well, giving me confidence that I knew the size of the car.
Where Coopers Colchester is located, as you leave it’s right by a junction for the A12, the way we needed to go to get home after picking the car up.
As I pulled away, the car felt smooth and like it had a lot to give. Going down the slip road onto the A12 I decided to see what this power was all about… Holy Moly this thing shifts! Stace was ahead in our car actually talking to me on hands free so I could tell her my initial thoughts while were driving back. Although I’m not sure she could get much sense out of me other than laughs and whooping. This is a seriously fun car with a lot of character and a really good noise.
After a few kick downs I settled down to a cruise for a bit until we reached a petrol station halfway to swap over. Admittedly, Stace isn’t a petrol head like me, but I think even she was extremely impressed by the car. I’d rather have been driving the car but at least I got to actually look at it on the move while she was driving it, and I have to say it does look impressive. From these first moments, I think I knew this was going to be a fun 10 days.
As I said earlier, there are several driving modes you can choose from in the x3. I’d say if we found ourselves just cruising around doing general day to day bits, we’d be in either Eco Pro or Comfort. I found both to be as comfortable each other, the engine was smooth and fairly responsive. With Eco Pro you can play a bit of a geeky game with your driving if you wish (which I did). On both the dash, and the trip computer you’ll get told tips on how you can improve your economy. So for example, if you’re getting near to a roundabout, you’ll see a little symbol come up on the head up display advising you take your foot off the accelerator and let the car coast, so it builds up a regenerative charge. It will also tell you on the dash how long you’ve used the stop start function for and also how long you’ve coasted for. All of these tips basically give you extra miles on the range. So you’ll see a bars building up on the left telling you how many you’ve gained, which is quite a fun game when you’re just driving on boring roads. When I’ve used this mode I think the highest MPG reading I saw was around 34mpg which was on the airport run driving smoothly, but only to Heathrow. I’d imagine if you were undertaking a longer journey and did take it easy you could average anywhere between 31 and maybe 35mpg if you were careful.
Saying that though, Sport mode is an absolute riot! You can choose between Standard Sport and Sport Plus. From what I can tell, Sport Plus gives you a bit more savagery and also the ability for launch control if you’re feeling brave. All you need to do is put your left foot on the brake, right foot on the accelerator to the floor and the car will hold it at optimum revs until you release the brake. Then seriously, this thing just pins you to your seat and GOES.
I’ve just never experienced this much speed and power from a car this size. It’s absolute insane and plenty enough to give passengers a fright. I think when you explain to them about the power it has they underestimate it until you take them out in and can see their heads pinned back out the corner of your eyes!
There just never seems to be any let up in the power at all, it just keeps going on and on! You actually forget about the size of the car because it hides it so well. I actually had to turn around and look behind me at some points to remind myself the type of car you’re in because you genuinely don’t realise while you’re moving swiftly. It hides its size and weight so well with hardly any body roll at all.
The sound is pretty impressive too. Obviously being a premium car the sound proofing is really good, so while it does sound excellent from the inside, for full drama I’d say crack a window and listen to turbo whooshes, induction noises and exhaust note. Even just cruising in sport mode has a nice low pitch tone. I just couldn’t get enough of the noise and acceleration, it’s utterly addictive. To the point where I was finding any excuse to nip out in the evening for milk and taking the long way out and back. Stace could often hear me leaving or driving past the house (sorry neighbours!).
Driving in the dark is a doddle too, thanks to the Icon Adaptive LED headlights, which are a standard feature on this car. These are extremely intelligent headlights. So on the left stalk there’s a little button at the end which will set your headlights to auto. What this will do is adjust your full beam accordingly. So it will stay on until it detects another car coming, then it will dip them accordingly. Now what you’d get in most cars with this technology is that the full beam would just go to dipped. But not in the X3, these headlights dip whichever beam would be shining in the drivers face. So when you’re driving along, you might find that your left headlight is full beam and the right dipped. Or what’s even more impressive is that you could have a car directly in front of you driving ahead, and the X3’s full beam will adjust to show you around both sides of the car but block out the middle so the driver in front doesn’t get blinded. This actually works fantastically, lighting up both sides of the road so you can keep a look out for wildlife or pedestrians. The headlight beams also move with the steering wheel too so you have exceptional vision, particularly down country lanes. I also found on the motorway that the beams are adjusted according to your speed. So on a motorway it will project the beams much further ahead, which really is noticeable in helping your vision on these sort of roads.
One of Ralphie’s favourite things is cars, and one of the best things about driving the X3 for me was that he genuinely loved it (just like his Dad). He actually started calling it ‘fast car’ after he found a few quick accelerations absolutely hilarious. So every time we’d go out, it was always a really fun thing for us to say to him ‘we’re going out in the fast car’ which always got him excited!
The only sad thing about that was handing it back and him saying bye fast car, but I’ll try not to touch on that too much before I get too emotional.
I found it to be quite a ‘feel good’ car. It just seemed to make everything better. If you’re feeling tired or had a crappy day, go for a drive in the X3 M40i, it always made me smile. I think multiple times I came back home just grinning ear to ear. I did notice as well, that people do definitely look at the car if you’re at say, a petrol station or shops etc. I’m not sure if it’s because as they walk back they can’t understand why an X3 makes such a good burbling noise, or if its the big wheels and sporty kit. But this car does get noticed.
I’m not sure if you can tell but I completely and utterly fell in love with this car and the rush it gives you. It just ticks all the boxes for a sporty, do-it-all family car. What other car can you get your child seats, prams, shopping and anything else you need to run a family in that does 0-62mph in 4.8 seconds for under £60,000? It is just a brilliantly fun, practical car. The only thing you do have to get used to is that if you are going to have fun with the car you can expect around 22-26mpg which isn’t great. But you do have to weigh up the performance you’re getting from a fairly big car, so really I don’t think it’s unreasonable. And if you want to save yourself some fuel money, well you could always spec a lesser engine and still kit out the optional extras. But for me, its the X3 M40i please…
You might also have noticed that we have’t done a direct comparison with the Porsche Macan we reviewed. While they are both similar cars in size, they’re engines weren’t comparable as the BMW has a bigger engine displacement and more power. They both cover the family stuff brilliantly, but the BMW was miles ahead in terms of performance. Obviously if we’d had tested the Macan S these would have been a bit closer.
Would we buy an X3 M40i?
Yes. Scot sort us out PLEASE!
Written by Adam Waplington @dad2r
Run Flat Tyres
M Sport Braking System
M Sport Differential
Sport Automatic Transmission
Variable Sport Steering
Alarm System (Thatcham 1)
Roof Rails, High-Gloss Shadowline
Floor Mats, Velour
First Aid Kit & Triangle
Rear-View Mirror, Auto Dimming
Electric Front Seats & Driver Memory
Sport Seats, Front
Seat Heating, Front
Instrument Panel In Sensatec
Aluminium Rhombicle Interior Trim With Pearl Chrome Trim Finisher
Automatic Air Conditioning
BMW Icon Adaptive LED Headlights
LED Foglights, Front
Passenger Airbag Deactivation, Front
Navigation System Professional
DAB Digital Radio
BMW Emergency Call
BMW Online Services
Real Time Traffic Information
M Steering Wheel
M Aerodynamic Bodystyling
Exterior Trim, High-Gloss Shadowline
M Sport Plus Package £2000.00
21” Cerium Grey 718 M Double Spoke Wheels With Mixed Tyres & Run-Flat Tyres
Adaptive M Sport Suspension
Sun Protection Glass
Loudspeaker System - Harman/Kardon Surround Sound
Exterior Mirros - Folding With Anti Dazzle £300.00
Galvanic Embelisher For Controls £110.00
Head-Up Display £895.00