If BMW suddenly decided to become a one-model automaker and had to build a single vehicle to replace absolutely everything else it currently makes, that end product might look a bit like the 2022 X3 M40i.
Not too big, not too small, high and comfy enough to slog through Canadian snowstorms, but sporty enough to placate the Ultimate Driving Machine stans, the M Performance X3 attempts to do it all. And fortunately, it mostly succeeds.
For 2022, the third-generation X3 receives a mid-cycle refresh that gives the design sharper edges that fall closer in line with the brand’s new, more-chiseled design language. (A style that’s perhaps most overtly showcased with the new iX electric crossover.) The fascia’s been revised with thinner headlights and a bigger grille, and, in person, it somehow looks more streamlined and aerodynamic than before. The rear bumper and taillights, meanwhile, are also new, with the latter sporting pincer-shaped LED signatures some have compared to the swords in the “Halo” video game franchise.
The inside has been thoroughly overhauled, and by that I mean replaced by the same interior found in, like, all other BMWs 4 Series-and-lower. It’s a clean and relatively understated design that holds up reasonably well to physical scrutiny. I did notice a bit of creaking when applying pressure to the centre console buttons, but build quality is very solid everywhere else.
Overall, the X3’s style is… fine. Actually, you know what? It’s good. Does it strike as much outright visual appeal as, say, the Bentley-lite Genesis GV70 or even Volvo’s subtly stylish XC60? No, but breathtaking beauty has never really been BMW’s bag anyway. The updated X3 is conservative, dignified, classy, and slightly dorky in that quintessential BMW way.
This tester was equipped with the $2,000 Advanced Driver Assistance package, which encompasses adaptive cruise control that works in stop-and-go traffic, steering and lane control, automatic lane-change functionality, and active lane-keeping, among other aids and warnings. Intended to be used with your hands still on the steering wheel, BMW’s semi-autonomous tech works quite well.
When tested by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), the 2022 BMW X3 scored straight “Good” marks in terms of crashworthiness but was rated merely “Marginal” when it comes to child-seat anchors. The organization criticized the lower anchors in the two outboard rear seats to be both “too deep in the seat” and “difficult to manoeuvre around.”
One safety criticism that comes from the Highway Safety Institute of Yours Truly, however, are the fairly chunky A-pillars that hinder visibility. [Ah, yes. The lesser-known HSIYT. – Ed.]
As standard, the X3 M40i features LED lights and parking sensors all around, auto-dimming mirrors, an automatic tailgate, automatic three-zone climate control, sport seats, and a leather-wrapped steering wheel. In typical premium brand fashion, it can be had with most of the tech and creature comforts out there – as long as you’re willing to pay for ’em.
The key options package to have here seems to be the $7,900 Premium Enhanced kit that encompasses ambient interior lighting, a clear and useful head-up display, a 360-degree camera system, adjustable lumbar support, keyless entry (yes, this is not standard, if you can believe it), a panoramic sunroof, rear sunshades, a built-in BMW dashcam system, and an upgraded 16-speaker sound system. There’s also a $1,200 charge if you’d like the two 12.3-inch screens: one in the centre of the dash handling infotainment, and another in the instrument cluster.
Despite being an option on last year’s model, wireless charging is not available in the 2022 X3 as of this writing. A BMW spokesperson confirmed, however, that it will become available “within the next few months.”
User Friendliness: 8.5/10
In predictable crossover fashion, getting in and out of the X3 is remarkably easy. That it’s a BMW also means its infotainment system is snappy and (mostly) easy to use. The 12.3-inch touchscreen is wide, sharp, and boasts vibrant, accurate colours. It can also be redundantly controlled by a knob placed low in the centre console. It’s a good input device while driving – a good substitute for reaching towards the touchscreen when doing so may not be very safe.
Most other controls come in the form of knobs and buttons that are logically laid out and feel decently solid against the fingers. As an exception to this, however, I am not a fan of the half-touch-dependent drive mode buttons placed low and out of plain sight and reach. Just give us a knob or rocker-style switch for that stuff like everybody else, BMW.
BMW’s compact crossover boasts rear seat space that’s decidedly usable and, as far as my average frame can tell, about as roomy as any other vehicle of this type. The equivalent Mercedes-Benz GLC-Class, for example, has about 20 mm (0.8 in) more rear legroom and approximately 30 mm (1.2 in) more headroom. Hardly a night and day difference, and if you’re actually stressing over space this much, you’d probably be better off with a bigger X5 anyway.
The X3’s 550-L cargo area is appropriately sized, although just from eyeballing it, the load floor seems a bit high even by crossover standards. Rear seats fold down in a 60/40 split (and quite easily, I might add), with your choice of which side is the larger portion of the two. Folding these down gives way to 1,600 L. A hand cargo cover is similarly simple to deploy, keeping any valuables back there out of sight.
Fun fact: the X3’s cargo capacity is statistically identical – 550/1,600 L seats up/down – to that of the aforementioned GLC-Class. (I feel like there’s a story here and refuse to believe that this is just a wild coincidence.) In any case, the Audi SQ5 offers a dominant 725 L with all seats up but lags with the rear ones down, at just 1,516 L.
As a bit of a BMW hallmark, the seats here can feel noticeably firmer than most others but are actually quite comfortable and well-shaped once you spend more time in ’em. The front seats in this tester were heated as was the steering wheel, and both of these functions can be programmed to automatically turn on when the temperature dips below a level of your choosing. Seat ventilation, however, was not present nor were the rear seats heated.
Similarly, the ride errs on the side of stiff (this is the M Performance model, after all) but, like the seats, remains livable in comfort mode. The X3 isolates most outside noises fairly well, contributing to a sufficiently quiet and luxurious highway cruise.
Engines are a strength with this particular automaker, and the mill inside the X3 M40i does not disappoint. It’s a 3.0L turbocharged straight-six, the same one found in the BMW-built Toyota Supra, BMW’s new M240i, and a handful of other 40i-grade Bimmers. In the X3, it makes 382 hp and 369 lb-ft of torque that’s funnelled to all four wheels through a seamlessly smooth-shifting eight-speed automatic transmission, and lets the vehicle get from zero to 100 km/h in a positively speedy 4.5 seconds. Not counting electrics, this makes the X3 M40i among the quickest accelerating entries (if not the quickest) in its class.
Not only is the X3’s straight-six powerful but it’s also very smooth and sounds quite nice. Its voice is cool and sonorous in that signature BMW way, and sportier drive modes even add in some muted popcorn exhaust noises, like an M Performance model should.
Driving Feel: 8.5/10
Other aspects of the X3 M40i’s driving demeanour are similarly competent. Highway cruising is appropriately stable, with passes happening effortlessly thanks to that dominant engine. City driving is also luxuriously pleasant.
Engage the sport or sport+ modes and the suspension gets stiffer, steering is heftier, exhaust is boomier, and gears are held for longer, essentially rendering the BMW crossover a high-riding hot hatch. However, it’s still not really a vehicle I’d describe as communicative or terribly emotional (at this point, that may be asking too much of a modern BMW product that doesn’t come with CS badges), but it is technically very accomplished and mostly earns its midway M badge.
Those looking for a less sterile-feeling luxury performance-ish compact cross should check out the Genesis GV70. AutoTrader Editor-in-Chief Jodi Lai once described the Genesis G70 sedan as a less artificial-feeling interpretation of the BMW 3 Series recipe and, to my hands, that comparison parallels the one between the Korean automaker’s GV70 3.5T crossover and this X3 M40i.
Fuel Economy: 8/10
New for this model year of X3 M40i is the addition of a 48-volt mild hybrid system that lets the vehicle move on electricity only at very low speeds. Arguably, the biggest benefit here would be that it smooths out the auto stop-start system. Per this BMW’s onboard data logger, the gas engine was apparently shut off automatically for about 12 per cent of the total time I spent driving it.
According to Natural Resources Canada (NRCan), the 2022 X3 M40i is rated for 11.2 L/100 km in the city, 9.1 on the highway, and 10.3 combined. After 700 km of mixed winter driving, this tester showed 11.1 L/100 km on its trip computer. Premium fuel is called for.
Those aren’t terrible ratings considering the power on tap and the competition’s efficiency stats. The aforementioned 3.5L GV70 is rated for 11.6 L/100 km combined, while the Audi SQ5 and Mercedes-AMG GLC 43 are rated for 11.2 and 11.3 L/100 km combined, respectively.
Starting at $66,900 before freight and taxes, the X3 tested here came equipped with more than $17,000 worth of options. Add in $2,480 for destination and the Brooklyn Grey X3 seen here came out to $86,915 before tax. If it were my money, I could probably do without the $3,000 leather option, while those that never use advanced driver aids can save $2,000 by foregoing the Advanced Driver Assistance package. But even then, the X3 M40i would still command almost $82,000.
Granted, this sort of coin is right in line with (if not a little less than) what you’d pay for similarly equipped versions of the rivaling Mercedes and Audi. You can save a few bucks by going with the Genesis GV70 but even then, the price difference isn’t exactly huge. In its top 3.5T Sport Plus guise, the GV70 costs $76,000.
The 2022 BMW X3 M40i – and, it appears, most of its direct competition – is a fairly expensive proposition but it is one that’s mostly justified. It delivers on all of the luxury and performance that those BMW and M Performance badges suggest and does it in a format that’s practical and versatile, all while wearing a dignified, classy design.
If you’ve got the cash and don’t mind (or perhaps even prefer) this BMW’s decidedly robotic driving personality, it’s a great daily driver that’s about as at home at the cottage as it is on the proverbial Canadian autobahn.
|Engine Cylinders||Turbo I6|
|Peak Horsepower||382 hp @ 5,800–6,500 rpm|
|Peak Torque||369 lb-ft @ 1,800–5,000 rpm|
|Fuel Economy||11.2 / 9.1 / 10.3 L/100 km cty/hwy/cmb|
|Cargo Space||550 / 1,600 L seats down|
|Model Tested||2022 BMW X3 M40i|
|Price as Tested||$86,915|
$17,345 – Premium Package Enhanced, $7,900; Fiona Red/Black Merino Leather, $3,000; Advanced Driver Assistance Package, $2,000; Digital Cockpit Professional, $1,200; Brooklyn Grey Metallic Paint, $895; Carbon Fibre Trim, $850; 21-inch M Wheels, Double-Spoke 718M, $500; Shadowline Headlights, $500; M Sport Brakes, Red, $500