Some people would say you don’t need to get from 0 to 100 kmph in under 5 seconds. Or that 50:50 weight distribution between the front and rear axles doesn’t make a jot of difference in the quality of your drive. And that an easy toggle between remarkably different drive modes does nothing to enhance your 2-km trek to the local liquor store.
For those people, there’s light beer and off-brand rum.
With 28.7 cubic feet of cargo space, the BMW X3 M40i looks like an SUV, yet drives like a power sedan. It’s equipped with a grizzly bear beneath the hood: that M Performance 3 litre, 6-cylinder twin turbo engine generates 355 hp from 5,500 to 6,500 revs and 369 lb-ft of torque from just 1,520 to 4,800. It’s matched with an 8-speed sport transmission you summon simply from the foot or milk with paddles.
The noise upon ignition is like a 21-gun salute. But beware: that engine drinks from the top shelf, so keep your loyalty cards at the front of your wallet.
Throwing the X3 into drive is a treat — even if you’re just off on a quick tootle through the neighbourhood. There’s been a lot of rain here lately and xDrive—BMW’s branded name for intelligent all-wheel drive—maintains grippiness on even the wettest surfaces.
The point of such all-wheel capability when there’s never any call for off-roading is debatable, but the car’s 8-inch ground clearance makes short work of the cavernous potholes we suffer around town here—and of those ubiquitous speed bumps between our parking pad and our favourite liquor store. (An extra two clicks farther from home, the shop houses the city’s best selection of small-batch brewers.)
Despite its height and clearance, the X3 feels well connected to the road. This ain’t no tippy olden times SUV. The speed-adjusted steering means excellent accuracy on the vital arteries, but little difficulty negotiating those last few metres in and out of the parking lot.
Once you’ve made a purchase —quality vodka and a local IPA is today’s tipple—comfort access means never having to find your key, or even bother flipping open the rear gate. Just give it a kick and watch it unfold. The storage compartment package and comfort access, along with the panorama sunroof, satellite radio and a few other extras, are all part of the premium package enhanced upgrade. Now, after you’ve cached your vodka, you can swing your foot in and out to shut the rear gate.
On the ride home, you can move safely and confidently courtesy of some clever safety features, like city collision mitigation and cross-traffic alert. And if the computer does anticipate a collision, a litany of extra safety measures kick in. The front seats’ seatbelts tighten, the windows close, and the computer overrides whatever input you’re feeding the accelerator, automatically slowing the X3 to a standstill. After which time, you’ll probably be ready for a drink.
As driven: $69,595