By Amanda Mfuphi
We may sound like a broken record by now, but SUVs have captured the imagination of consumers and they are here to stay. It is therefore no surprise that the main luxury car manufacturing brands has placed quite capable offerings in the luxury SUV segment of the market to vigorously compete. We recently had the pleasure of hosting the BMW X3 M40d and found it to offer a good balance to a consumer looking for a family car and sheer driving performance.
As you approach the X3 M40d you are confronted by the large black grille with chrome coatings. The grille is complemented by the wide front bumper and adaptive LED headlights with daytime running functionality as well as rectangular sport lights. Being an M Performance derivative, the X3 M40d gets an exterior sporty styling such as the M Sport brake, M Sport suspension and cerium garnishes on the side mirrors which complemented our X3’s navy body colour well. The X3 M40d also comes with 20-inch light-alloy wheels and a panoramic sunroof. Finishing the exterior look of the BMW X3 M40d is the double exhaust system and the legendary BMW shark fin antenna. The BMW X3 M40d comes in at 4716mm in length and 1676mm in height and has a ground clearance of 204mm.
Getting inside our X3 M40d, we discovered our ride was not short of a luxurious experience with leather materials on the dashboard, steering wheel and most places your hands land on. The leather steering wheel also had an M-Sport signage. The dashboard is also garnished by black oak wood and grey or silver colours. The seats came in dark brown leather. I must say I was also impressed with the amount of stowage capacity in the BMW X3 M40d. There was no shortage of space to store items such as our house keys, wallets and beverages for the trip. In case you forget that you are driving an X model, the side door panels of the X3 M40d are quick to remind you with the huge X signage.
The X3 M40d has a touchscreen infotainment screen, instrument cluster and digital cockpit ensure that most functionalities are accessible on the digital platform. Connectivity and entertainment were not an issue in our X3 M40d which was Apple CarPlay enabled and USB ports. The back passengers also had their own climate control which was independent of the front passenger and driver as well as their own cupholders. The boot of the X3 M40d is well shaped and generously proportioned and it has a maximum boot capacity of 1,550 litres.
On the technology front, the X3 M40d came with various conveniences such as a 360-degree camera system and front and rear parking sensors to ensure that you are easily able to pilot yourself through any parking situation. The X3 M40d also came with Adaptive Cruise Control with Brake Function, lane keep assist and a live navigation system. Other useful active safety assist feature was the vehicle being able to assist the driver maintain a safe following distance by issuing a warning if the vehicle is too close to a vehicle in front. Another cool and useful feature is the BMW Intelligent Personal Assistant (an intelligent, digital character that responds to the prompt “Hey BMW” and allows for the driver to interact with the vehicle). It is quick and easy to use.
The X3 M40d is powered by a 3.0 litre 6-cylinder turbocharged diesel engine with 240kW of power dcand 680Nm of torque. The engine is paired with an 8-speed automatic gearbox. The X3 M40d comes with driving modes being the Sport, Comfort and Eco Pro modes. I found Comfort mode to provide enough power delivery for any situation I confronted on the road and it provided a comfortable ride. Eco Pro, although the most efficient mode, made the car feel a bit sluggish which made me overcompensate on the throttle and that defeated the costs savings so that was more motivation to stick to Comfort. That mode also made the car feel brisk and sound good. Can I also just add that the 0 to 100km/h sprint in just 4.9 seconds is no myth, and it is easily achievable on Comfort mode. The Sport mode offers an exhilarating drive with the suspension tightening up and the steering wheel firming up for better handling. Still though, it’s not that kind of party so I was satisfied with Comfort mode.
The engine of X3 M40d is smooth and refined on all driving conditions. Acceleration is quick and the car feels light, so it jumps out of sticky situations fairly quickly. The vehicle is also comfortable and quiet, even on gravel road driving. Even though the X3 M40d is a relatively big SUV, I did not feel any body roll cornering even on higher speeds. The vehicle also feels planted on the road and therefore offers added assurance to the driver on the road. Being a diesel vehicle, BMW had claimed a fuel consumption average of 6.8L/100km but we found the consumption to be on the high side during city driving as we only managed to get to 9L/100km. The fuel consumption was much pleasing on the open highway drive as it got down to an average of 7.8L/100km. Overall, the X3 offers a good balance between performance and family car, and saves you at the pumps being a diesel.
The BMW X3 M40d is priced at R1,034,964. The price includes a five-year/100,000km maintenance plan and two-year/unlimited mileage warranty.
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