This hotted-up BMW X3 sprints to 100km/h in only 4.8 seconds
BMW Australia will finally get its hands on a real rival to the Audi SQ5 and Mercedes-AMG GLC43 performance SUVs from mid-2018, priced to match the pair at around $100,000 and primed to beat them from 0-100km/h.
This is because the third-generation BMW X3 range, which launches in 'regular' $68,900 20d, $75,900 30i and $83,900 30d forms in Australia in early November, also comes with a new range-topping M Performance variant called the X3 M40i.
Given a significant proportion of Audi Q5 and Mercedes-Benz GLC buyers in Australia go for the hot versions, this X3 M40i will be a significant volume driver for the brand's local division.
While it's coming about eight months after its range-mates, performance crossover fans might well consider it worth the wait, given the performance credentials on offer.
Powering the X3 M40i is a reworked version of the staple 3.0-litre TwinPower turbocharged inline six-cylinder petrol (with fully variable valve control and high-precision injection) from the M140i, uprated to produce 265kW of power from 5500rpm and 500Nm of torque between 1520 and 4800rpm.
Matched to an all-wheel drive system with variable torque distribution and an eight-speed torque-converter auto from ZF, the hotted-up SUV claims a 0-100km/h time of 4.8 seconds.
That's 0.6sec faster than what Audi claims for its new 260kW/500Nm petrol-powered SQ5 V6, and 0.1sec faster than the claim for Mercedes-AMG's 270kW/520Nm GLC43 V6.
Bragging rights secured, then - though torque fans may want to note that the X3 xDrive 30d diesel six-pot will offer 195kW and 620Nm, a 5.8sec 0-100km/h time and way better fuel economy, for less. Just saying...
Specifics to the M40i version of the X3 include larger air inlets, M Sport body kit, M leather steering wheel with paddles, reworked stiffer M suspension, M Sport brakes, various driver modes including adaptive dampers and variable sport steering, sports exhaust, and an xDrive AWD system with a greater default rear-wheel bias.
One might also reasonably assume the brand new BMW X4 crossover, again to be spun off the X3, will also come in M40i guise to rival the Mercedes-AMG GLC43 Coupe, potentially late next year.
Spy photos have shown we should also expect an M40d model in both mid-sized X lines, and reports out of Europe suggest figures in the neighbourhood of 250kW and 650Nm, potentially dethroning the M40i for outright acceleration.
Watch for more on local M40i details soon, and for first news on the M40d in the months ahead.
We're going to drive the BMW X3 M40i soon, at its world launch. Keep an eye out for our review in the middle of October.