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The 2022 BMW X3 M40i review

I recently picked up a 2022 BMW X3 M40i and discover if it's a better option than the 30i model. Also, how does it compare to the X3 M?

BMW X3 M40i
X3 M40i

We love our “special” cars don’t we? They get all the attention, the extra washes, performance parts, and back road love. But it’s the daily that’s called upon to deal with the day to day drives. Does that mean it needs to be boring? It does not! Meet my new 2022 BMW X3 M40i.

This 2022 BMW X3 M40i was purchased from Danny at Circle BMW, who also helped with my M3. Again, his service was excellent, and I cannot recommend him or Circle enough.

X3 M40i
Extended Shadowline trim gives me black headlights, mirrors and a black grille.
X3 M40i
It’s a mouthful, but the M badge isn’t just ornamental.

LCI time

BMW’s Life Cycle Impulse is their term for a mild update – it usually means new headlights, taillights, grilles, and trimmings. In the X3’s case, you get some updates that bring it in line with the rest of the models.

  • New headlights and taillights.
  • A new, unified grille.
  • On the X3 M40i, you get M side mirrors with double hinges, very similar to the X3 M design, along with a revised rear bumper with fake vents.
  • Inside, you get an updated shifter, climate control display, and the start button moves to the center console. This matches the interior of the M3 almost exactly.
  • The Auto start/stop button goes away. Unless the car is in SPORT mode, it will turn off at red lights and in traffic.
  • M40i models now get a small 48V mild hybrid battery to help offset that start/stop for smoother rides.
  • An updated shifter, like in the G20 3 Series.
X3 M40i
New taillights in the rear bring the X3 in line with other modern BMWs.
X3 M40i
The shifter from the 3 series comes over, along with a new iDrive controller.
X3 M40i
This is display is now 12.1 inches across, up from 10. It’s sort of like sitting too close to the TV.

Compare it to your X3 xDrive30i

I sort of did, taking an X4 M40i and driving it together with the 30i. In that comparison, I called the M40i a good compromise between an M and a regular Series model, wishing for an X3 M40i most of all. Here we are.

Was anything wrong with the 30i?

Not at all, it was flawless. With the market the way it is right now, it made more sense to trade it in and get the M40i. Clearly this car offers a much better driving experience.

How long did it take to build?

Normally, cars from Germany take 8 weeks, and cars built in South Carolina take 4. Things being what they are, this took 3 months to arrive.

X3 M40i
Tanzanite Blue Metallic. Similar to Carbon Black, but more blue.
X3 M40i
I opted for a dark look, with black 20-inch style 699 wheels and high-performance rubber. Winter tires are coming for cold weather. Red M calipers complete the look.

How did you spec it?

Like this. But I did change the base 19-inch wheels for 20-inch black ones, as I was able to obtain a set of winter wheels. But please note some things:

  • Extended Shadowline Trim is no longer available (for now)
  • Passenger lumbar and driver and passenger seat bolster adjustment is unavailable
  • No Satellite radio
  • No HUD if you’re getting a 30i model

Each BMW has different equipment limitations, so check with your client advisor if you’re ordering one.

How does it drive?

You’ve heard me lament about the adjustability of the M3, but this X3 is closer to my 335 in terms of settings. You get a comfort mode, in which the car feels pretty much like the 30i, and a SPORT mode. The M40i has adjustable shocks, steering, throttle mapping and exhaust sound, and putting it in SPORT brings the car alive.

It’s closer to X3 M than it is 30i. The little BRAP from the exhaust on upshifts makes it sound like a mini S58, which it is. Steering feedback is pretty good, and that SPORT mode ups the heft to a reasonable degree. The suspension is excellent – firm enough for spirited driving but not enough to crunch your bones. Keep in mind this is a tall SUV, so it handles exceedingly well. It’s so good that I wish I had specc’d the optional rear M differential.

All this in a car that still “baby’s” well, hauls my camera gear around, and retains all the functionalty that I loved about the 30i model.

X3 M40i
Tacora Red Sensatec, which will hold up to the abuse a 4-year old can dish out. Also, BMW doesn’t offer a red leather, and this looks best.
X3 M40i
The M steering wheel even has tri-color stiching.

What don’t you like?

I can go on about the digital gauge cluster, but at least there’s no stick here to “need” the tach. The default display cuts that tach in half and shows a voltage reading, which is pointless. I changed it.

The climate controls. Dials in the pre-LCI model worked better. Now I need to tap the button a million times to get the temperature I want.

The steering wheel should really be power-adjustable. This isn’t a cheap car, but BMW insists on saving the feature for 5 Series and above. Sharing the car with someone means you need to move it every time, as oppose to it being part of the memory setting.

Curiously, you can’t get all-season tires on anything but the base 19-inch wheels. Given this car’s all-purpose use (and the fact that those base wheels are not pretty), I’m surprised. Still, summer and winter tires are a better match, performance-wise.

X3 M40i
This is one of the best modern BMWs you can buy – the magic is still here.

Do you wish you had gotten an X3 M?

Hopping into this car after the M3 highlights the difference the S58 makes. It’s a 100 horses more and the throttle is much more responsive. Still, I already have an M car. It’s loud. It’s still slightly obnoxious. Still likes gasoline.

If every day were a fall cruise, sure, give me the X3 M. But that’s not the case. Even I want to chill sometimes. But that doesn’t mean, should I turn onto a back road, that I need to be bored to death.

All hail the 2022 X3 M40i. Enough M when you want it, and a relaxing ride when you don’t.

X3 M40i
Your daily doesn’t need to be boring. I look forward to driving this almost as much as the M3.

This X3 was prepped with AMMO NYC Skin and Reboot.

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