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BMW X3

2022 BMW X3 Showdown: xDrive30i vs. M40i vs. M Competition

X3 trims range from sensible to extreme

  • Our long-term X3 xDrive30i goes head to head with the M40i and M Competition trims.
  • We decide which one offers the best blend of performance and comfort.

The BMW X3 is the German automaker's best-selling vehicle, thanks in no small part to its versatility. The X3 is a luxury vehicle, sure, but even in base turbocharged four-cylinder trim (like the one in our long-term fleet) this SUV is plenty peppy. Of course, this is BMW, so the inline-four is just the tip of the petrol iceberg.

BMW X3

What separates the M40i from the xDrive30i?

First: horsepower. The M40i ($64,990 in tested configuration) shines when you fire up the turbocharged inline-six and let at least a few of the 382 horses out of the barn. The standard X3 isn't exactly a slouch itself, but as you'd expect, it gets bullied by the M40i in every category we test at the track. The M40i is also delightfully noisy without being a nuisance, particularly when thrown into Sport Plus mode. The standard X3 is still fun to drive, but it doesn't hold a candle to the M40i we tested, which, along with the superior engine, runs on softer (read:  sportier) all-season tires. The table below tells you all you need to know about the performance improvements you get by moving from the xDrive30i to the M40i.

 

X3 xDrive30i

X3 M40i

0-60 mph
(rollout not included)

6.2 seconds

4.4 seconds

1/4 mile

14.5 seconds
@ 94.4 mph

12.6 seconds
@ 107.8 mph

The improved performance isn't reserved for driving straight. The M40i's more forceful brakes are noticeably better on the track, stopping this X3 from 60 mph in a mere 108 feet. On our test track, it took our long-term xDrive30i 129 feet to stop from the same speed.

Not only do the M40i's beefier brakes perform better at the track, they also pay dividends when you feel like wringing out the X3 on a canyon road. Drive the two versions back to back, and you'll further notice improved handling through corners. The M40i is simply a more fun version of the X3 no matter where, or in what capacity, you're driving it.

The M40i's additional dose of fun does come with a few drawbacks. The most notable is on-road comfort. If you're a regular driver on highways in desperate need of repaving, or anywhere in the Los Angeles area, you'll feel every bump in the M40i. The suspension is stiff and the driver's seat offers little in the way of additional padding to make up for it. Similar to the base X3, the M40i's steering sometimes succumbs to a heavy-yet-lifeless feel, giving the SUV a wandering sensation that's especially evident while cruising on a highway.

2022 BMW X3 M Competition

The M Competition is an SUV possessed

The M40i offers a sizable performance upgrade, but it doesn't hold a candle to the tiger shark of the lineup. The X3 M Competition ($87,345 in tested configuration) is a merciless SUV for better and for worse.

While the M Competition throws another 100-plus horses under the hood, it doesn't feel particularly inviting compared to the M40i. It's terrific driving in a straight line, and the noise is spectacular (like other BMW Ms, there is a loud/less loud button in the center console area). Unfortunately, it doesn't lend itself to fun or carefree track driving quite like the M40i or like the sedans or coupes it's trying to emulate. While it decimated the track-tested times of its gentler X3 brethren, its unpleasant road manners left us wondering why such a car exists to begin with.

 

X3 M40i

X3 M Competition

0-60 mph
(rollout not included)

4.4 seconds

3.6 seconds

1/4 mile

12.6 seconds
@ 107.8 mph

11.7 seconds
@ 117.0 mph

The X3 M Competition certainly checks all the boxes of a performance-oriented vehicle from a spec-sheet standpoint. It boasts a twin-turbocharged inline-six, and its 503 horsepower is as laudable as it is laughable. Yes, you'll still lose a drag race to a Dodge Durango Hellcat, but this is still a ludicrous amount of horsepower to put inside an SUV.

Edmunds says

We think most BMW X3 shoppers will be satisfied by the four-cylinder sDrive30i (or xDrive30i if you need all-wheel drive). Looking for something with more caffeine? The M40i offers a six-cylinder engine, 382 horsepower and a more comfortable ride than the M Competition, which feels like a bit much.