Right, so no quad-turbo set-up like the X5 M50d, but the new addition to the X3 range, the M40d, sure can fly, outpacing its bigger sib, and all with just the two turbos in tow.
The M40d follows on from the M40i growler, and gets essentially the same engine as the X5 3.0d we drove recently, only with a pair of turbos boosting output. That climbs from 195 to a bristling 240kW (25 shy of the M40i) while torque swells from 620 to 680Nm, available from 1750rpm instead of 2000rpm for the X5 variant.
The X3 M40d is rather different from the X5 3.0d, although there’s some commonality, in that both come with the Driving Assistant Plus package, and a similar degree of general fit-out. Moreover, because the X3 has slightly smaller seats in the rear there’s not that much difference for rear seat occupant space.
However, the character of the M40d is different. And it’s the M prefix that gives the game away.
This model complements the M40i for those who want similar (stonking) performance but with a more easy-going delivery and reduced fuel use. Only thing is, you pay an extra $3k for the privilege of diesel.
Some might see that as unfair, given the identical specification. Others might be happy to pay for the extra 180Nm of torque, especially if they have something to tow (2500kg braked maximum), and for the fuel consumption savings of around 2.0L/100km.
The M40d sounds muted, and it’s quiet on the go too, most in-cabin dB readings in the high 60s. Not bad given it runs big 21-inch PZeros. The price has risen slightly from when it was previewed last year, the M40d retailing for $125,200.
Our drive vehicle had a few modest upgrades, the dearest being an electrically unfurling tow hitch adding $2400, taking the total to $130,290. That’s not far shy of the base X5 3.0d price, so perhaps we can compare the pair in general terms.
The newer X5 looks a bit more coherent as a design, and uses slightly higher grade components in the interior. It has a configurable dash where that in the X3 is conventional, though just as legible. Both share a head-up display, useful for ensuring you’re not overdoing things.
The X5 has a two-piece tailgate, but there’s nothing much wrong with the powered version in the X3 either. Otherwise spec is slightly higher on the X5. Both get active LED lights, multi-zone air, a smart key (but not self-unlocking in X3), and surround view camera.
There’s more width and overall bulk to the X5; we had to trim our driveway hedge during our time with that vehicle, prompting the purchase of a cordless trimmer. Free at last from the shackles of extension leads and 230v. Around town you’re always aware of the X5’s bulk, though it doesn’t look like a big rig.
But its turning circle sure is at 12.6m and that compares with 12.1m for the X3. The M40d is also easier to park and pilot around city streets, being 1897mm wide versus 2004mm for the X5, and 4716 vs 4922mm in length.
On road, these two are similar in some ways, both with four driving modes, adaptive damping and better than even weight splits but differ in their suspension tunes. Even with the M Sport package, the X5 3.0d is only ever cosetting and absorbent on uneven roads. The M40d is firmer but not crashy. There’s perfectly adequate body control even in the Comfort setting.
It feels (and is by 300kg) less weighty and therefore more eager in the turns than the X5, and with its rear-biased AWD system and torque vectoring, it will round up into tight corners with power-on oversteer. Lots of grip too with the big PZeros so plenty of lateral G action before the squealing begins.
Performance is just as riveting. Editor Cassidy rated the M40i six-pot engine a cracker last year. And this oily one is also spanking, only in a less revvy, more torquey way. Yet it also spins well (for a diesel), pulling hard to 4500rpm, on its way to a best 0-100km/h of 4.78sec. It launches hard at 3500rpm, and hits 100 right at the top of third gear.
How many diesel SUVs can crank into the fours for a 0-100km/h run? Precious few; the $176k SQ7 V8 is the only one I can recall, with which the M40d dead heated. The overtake trails the M40i by 0.2sec. And when in relaxed touring mode, it purrs along in top gear at 100km/h with just 1350rpm registering.
We calculated 2000rpm would correlate to 156km/h. So the M40d delivers big time both on the dynamic and performance fronts, while retaining a decent degree of practicality with ample luggage space and even some towing ability. Not cheap, but clever seldom is, right?
|Model||BMW X3 M40d||Price||$125,200|
|Engine||2993cc, IL6, T/DI, 240kW/680Nm||Drivetrain||8-speed auto, all-wheel drive|
|Fuel Use||6.7L/100km||C02 Output||176g/km|