Pros and Cons: 2018 BMW X3

by Member - Michael Accardi on November 10, 2017, 4:24 pm

By: Stephanie Wallcraft

The third-generation BMW X3 has been revealed to the world, and it unquestionably comes across as more evolution than revolution. At a time when the luxury compact utility vehicle segment is heating up more than ever, this can be taken in a positive light. After all, when something isnít broken, thereís no need to fix it, right?
A test drive of the earliest 2018 models reveals a wealth of positive developments along with a handful of nitpicks.


The First-Ever M Performance Model

Two new gasoline engines are available in the newest X3. The base motor goes from the lower powered 28i equipped in 2017, to a new 2.0-liter BMW TwinPower Turbo inline 4-cylinder, 30i, the same engine already pulling duty in some 3 Series models. With it comes a slight 7 hp power bump to a total of 248 hp while producing the same amount of torque, 258 lb-ft, from 1,450 to 4,800 rpm.

The 35i, on the other hand, is replaced for 2018 with the new M40i, the X3ís first-ever M Performance model. Its 3.0-liter BMW M Performance TwinPower Turbo inline 6-cylinder delivers 355 hp, an improvement of 55 hp over the 35i, and an improvement of 69 lb-ft of torque for a total of 369 lb-ft available between 1,520 and 4,800 rpm. Along with its eight-speed sport automatic transmission, the M40i gets from 0 to 100 km/h in a segment-best 4.8 seconds. And, more importantly, it has more performance-oriented bits like an available adaptive suspension that make it an absolute joy to drive on twisty roads, plus it makes all kinds of fabulous, angry noises that just a few short years ago would never have been considered befitting of a sports activity vehicle.

Classic Styling

The X3 was already a great example of BMWís classic styling cues and the second-generation version aged gracefully, so there was little need to take a redesign to extremes. Cognizant of this, the X3ís head designer, Calvin Luk, used a gentle hand to make incremental improvements. The kidney grille is larger and plays more of an anchoring role Ė and it now incorporates an active air intake system for more efficient aerodynamics Ė and the LED headlamps have a rounded top line that unifies the front-end design.

Where Luk took more liberties is with the shoulder line, which has been pulled out to give the X3 a more muscular stance. This is most obvious in a face-on rear view, at which point the haunches are wider and significantly more pronounced.

Better Head-Up Display

A new available head-up display is one of the technical highlights of the latest X3. It's now 75% larger, uses more colour, and packs a lot of useful information like speed limits and navigation instructions into a format thatís at eye level which makes it easier to discern at a glance.


No Android Auto

Apple CarPlay integration is an available feature on the new X3, but BMW is among the luxury brands that believe their customers donít use Android products and therefore donít mind if they skip integrating Android Auto. In this day and age, when people are sharing calendars, data clouds, and more across multiple devices, expecting a customer to either switch to Apple or do without smartphone integration entirely is a risky proposition. Itís effectively asking someone to buy not only a new phone but an entire suite of technology, some of which may not even be within the buyerís control if devices are employer-supplied. In some cases, the Android users who might consider buying an X3 never even come close enough to doing so to enter BMWís awareness Ė they quickly realize that the Q5 has it equipped and visit their local Audi dealership instead. Thereís no reason to leave Android Auto off apart from not wanting to pay a licensing fee, which is ultimately a false economy.

Lazy M Performance Interior

Thatís not to say that the X3 has a low-grade interior. In fact, the base model sports some impressive features, including: 10-way power front sport seats with two-way power side bolsters, two-way manual headrests, and a driver's seat memory system; adjustable rear seat backs, and a 40-20-40 rear seat split Ė and thatís all even before you get into the M Performance grade.

Itís just that when you compare it to the interior of the new M550i, which is positively opulent when upgraded to the supplest materials with deeply quilted upholstery and pillowy headrests, the X3 M40i Ė while admittedly significantly less expensive Ė comes off like an unwanted stepchild. Customers are finally beginning to take crossovers seriously as desirable luxury performance vehicles, and BMW appears to have missed an opportunity to bring the X3 along to follow suit.

No North American Diesel

While no one has yet gone as far as to say that the diesel X3 variant will never land in North America, BMW has confirmed that it wonít be available at launch. Whether the EPAís increasingly stringent diesel emissions testing regimen will ultimately spook the company entirely is yet to be determined. One alternate powertrain variant has been confirmed for a late launch, though: a fully electric X3 is due in 2020.

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3 responses to Pros and Cons: 2018 BMW X3

PowerfulF22 commented:
November 12, 2017, 12:55 pm

we need diesel bmws!
MILO77 commented:
November 14, 2017, 9:05 am

Glad Diesels aren't an option, they are horrible. Torque is more matched with the turbo petrol engines - so no real need!
Blue Knight LEO commented:
November 15, 2017, 11:21 am

I only have two nit-picks: The fake vents and off color mirrors. Other than that, it looks like my next purchase.