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[Review] BMW X3 M40i

Old 04-24-2018, 05:01 PM
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Default [Review] BMW X3 M40i

Overview

After owning a 2018 SQ5 that was subsequently totaled from road debris, I wanted to share my views on my new BMW X3 M40i. Back when I bought my SQ5 in August of 2017, the M40i was not out yet. So, I only had the choice between the GLC 43, Alpha Romeo Stelvio, Porsche Macan and Jaguar F Pace. This is my first BMW, though I have driven different ones before. I will try to be as unbiased as possible.

About me: I served in the United States Marine Corps as a Combat Engineer (1371) from 2009-2012 and currently work as a Petroleum Engineer in Texas. As you might expect, I can appreciate the small details and effort put into each part of a car. Driving and technology are passions of mine. and I do not like to compromise on either when it comes to driving.

Below is my take on the new G01 X3 M40i:

Exterior

Whether you’re a fan of BMW’s kidney grill or not, their prominence is only going to grow on future models. I like the aggressive look of the new X3 because in the words of my wife, “it looks angry”. The front has nice creases in the headlights, giving the front end a nice sporty look. Add this to the M specific bumper, larger intakes, and black accents that increase the fierceness. There are bright LED fog lights which nicely blend into the front end. To accent the car, BMW uses their signature blue M Performance brake calipers that look great with the Pythonic Blue exterior.

Lighting: Coming from an SQ5 Prestige with full LED headlights, I expected good visibility form BMW’s ‘Adaptive LED’ headlights. Note: The adaptive part of these headlights stems from their ability to pivot as you turn the wheel for maximum visibility. Thankfully, I was not disappointed. These headlights were impressive. Since I live in West Texas (where street lights are a light suggestion), nighttime visibility is key. The headlights made me realize how much of the road I was missing because their normal range (low beams only) was far better than my SQ5. This observation was confirmed after the IIHS released their crash test data, which includes lighting.

Moving around the back of the car, you will find revised rear LED tail lights, real exhaust ports and a gunmetal colored lower facia. I know many people who think all Mercedes, Audi and BMW models look the same year after year, but I think this refresh does just enough to set it apart. No rear fog lights are offered, and none are really needed. The taillights are very bright, as with any full LED setup. Reverse lights are also LED’s, unlike the US versions of Audi’s Q5 and SQ5.

Keyless entry works like a charm, with the ability to unlock only the driver’s door or all doors. You can change this setting in iDrive to include the trunk as well. To lock the car, you simply need to touch the ribbed spot on any handle, making accidental presses nearly impossible. Each door handle pulls straight out.



Interior

Seating: BMW’s choice of interior styling offers a welcoming environment with their driver- oriented set up. I opted for the Cognac Vernasca leather because of how well it goes with my Pythonic blue exterior. The front seats offer something I wish Audi did in their SQ5, adjustable side bolsters via their 14-way power seats. I am not the largest of people at 5”8’ and 143lbs, so thankfully these seats offer more flexibility without sacrificing comfort. For those of you who are on the larger side, these seats don’t appear to be welcoming like in my old SQ5. My wife, who is 5”1’ /100lbs, finds her seat to very comfortable once the bolsters are adjusted to the narrowest setting. While the leather isn’t diamond- stitched for the classic upscale look, I enjoy the simplicity of BMW’s styling here. I’m not happy with BMW for not offering their M Sport steering wheel on the X3 M40i, a standard on RoW vehicles (rest of world). There’s nothing inherently wrong with the current one, but I prefer the M Sport one for the look and feel.

Materials: From the dash to trunk, you won’t find any unwanted hard surfaces or ‘cheap-feeling’ areas. BMW uses a stitched soft-touch material on the upper door sills and dash that reminds me more of leather than the weird rubber-like material of my SQ5. Interior trim options range from aluminum to wood, all complementary to specific seat colors. I have the Grey Poplar wood, which tied with the standard Aluminum Rhombical trim. Doors are trimmed in the same leather as your seats, giving the cabin a more luxurious feel. One complaint I do have is the use of a gloss plastic around the center console, since it’s impossible to keep clean and will show scratches in direct sunlight. This is one area I’m willing to accept, given the excellent design of everything else.

Technology: Inside the center stack offers natural-feeling controls for iDrive which are simple and intuitive for anyone who can use a smartphone. The center screen on my M40i is 10.3” with a 1440*540, and has vivid colors with a refined appearance. iDrive offers a vast amount of customization options from driving modes, to display contents to climate control. All these settings can be saved to your key, so there’s no need to change them back when your spouse or guest uses the spare key. I was happy to see the car readjust all settings automatically, including the driver’s seat when I tried using the second key. There’s also gesture support, which while somewhat gimmicky, has also proven to be especially useful. There are a few supported gestures, one of which you can remap to a variety of things, depending on your preference. BMW has much better remote support with the BMW Connected app vs the MMI on. I enjoy being able to see a 360 view of my car while at the store, or just about anywhere. You will also can do the following things remotely:

· Lock/unlock the car

· Turn on/off headlights

· Honk the horn,

· Turn on climate control (this can be scheduled too)

· Locate car

· Etc.



BMW’s instrument cluster, while fully digital, doesn’t have the same refinement Audi offers with their Virtual Cockpit. This is going to change with the release of iDrive 7.0 in the new X5 later this year. I found BMW’s digital gauges retained their classical styling with modern touches. There are 3 different gauge clusters you get depending on the driving mode, Sport/Sport+, Comfort/Adaptive, and Eco Pro. Of course, if you’d rather not have the cluster change on a drive mode basis, there is a way to disable this option in iDrive as with almost every setting. Customization inside is near infinite! Moving on to the full color heads up display (HUD), you get to see everything from media options to route guidance. BMW’s implementation here is the best so far. You can customize the HUD by adding/removing elements you do not care for (speed alerts, current speed limit, nav directions etc.).

One area I am extremely pleased with is the wireless (Qi based) charging tray. For those of you who are not aware, Qi is the wireless charging standard that beat out Powermat (back by Duracell). All new/old phones with wireless charging will be fully supported. I tested my Samsung S9+ and Note 8 in the tray during some spirited drives and the phone never once stopped charging. I’m glad BMW understands how consumers are using larger phones and made their wireless charging tray accommodate them without missing a beat.

Storage: Interior storage space in my X3 M40i is very generous (not quite ‘American’ sized like a F-150 or Tahoe), with room for my rather large Note 8 and S9+ inside the center console or wireless charging tray. From the small bin on the left side of your steering wheel to the glove box, I never felt more storage was necessary. I was pleased to see normal sized cup holders and could be hidden via the roll top like cover, which also covers your wireless charging phone tray. USB ports are found (2 in total) in convenient areas. One lies within the phone tray and another in your center console. These support 5V/2A+ charging, leaving ample power for most devices. Trunk space is slightly more than in the SQ5 with side bins to keep smaller items. Unfortunately, there is no cargo net to keep items in these side areas, making me question why they exist.



Performance and Driving

Anyone who has driven a recent BMW should know their vehicles are very driver-oriented. There was a time when BMW’s were true driver’s cars, but with modern technology some of the great things (steering feel) are lost. You will be happy to know the steering has some good feedback and is not entirely numb like some other models. Of course, the steering will never be E36/E46 M3 quality here, but for a sporty SUV it remains closer to the Macan than SQ5.

Drive modes: Whether you will be launching the M40i from a stop light or simply commuting to work, there is a driving mode for both. Every time the car is started, you will be in comfort mode, which basically translates to ‘normal’ with a relatively numb acceleration mapping. Adaptive is the next option, which falls between comfort and Sport. In Adaptive, mashing the pedal will result in a wall of power more quickly. Now, if you really want to have fun, Sport/Sport+ are the best drive modes. Who can resist the nice ‘burble/crackle’ you get on every up and down shift. By unleashing the beast in Sport+, you really get to see the M40i come to life. I was impressed with the sheer brute force the TwinPower (twin scroll) I6 provides, even though its power/torque are nearly identical to my SQ5. Whether or not the M40i is faster than others, it certainly feels that way. The M40i feels a class above the SQ5 in terms of acceleration and power. Staggered wheels provide good traction for the rear-biased AWD system, while also offering better looks. I generally drive in Adaptive most days and sometimes Sport+ while merging onto a highway, or to scare my wife (she doesn’t enjoy this when it’s unexpected).

Handling/Ride Quality: No one is expecting a 2-ton SUV to be a nimble sports car, although given the near perfect weight distribution, there’s no noticeable under/over steer that I’ve seen so far. Between the front and rear you get a 50.6%/49.4% split in weight, making this SUV feel sporty. On the other hand, my SQ5 featured a front heavy approach, sitting at a 54.3%/45.7% split. Steering is accurate and responds how you would expect. BMW has variable ratio steering like Audi’s “Dynamic Steering,” offering a faster ratio for the first ~90 deg. of steering; this makes low speed maneuvering easier.

AWD: There’s no doubt Audi’s Quattro system destroys X-Drive here, thanks in part to the sport differential and torque vectoring. I’ve been able to slightly lose traction in corners, where my Audi would remain firmly planted. You could call the BMW more fun thanks to this, since you can feel like you’re in a RWD SUV in those situations. I’ve yet to test my M40i on anything but wet roads, so I cannot speak to how well the system works in snow. During the one time we had rain since purchasing my car, everything felt firmly planted with no fear of losing grip.

Wheels: My car was optioned with a 21” wheel, featuring dreadfully awful run flat tires. Keep in mind there are no non-run flat tires available in the OEM spec of 245/40 R21 & 275/35 R21 103Y at the time of writing this. Thankfully, I will be replacing these with 20” wheels and non-run flat tires within the next month or so. I find the ride to be a little bumpier than my SQ5’s plush air suspension. Active dampers on the M Suspension option help smooth out bumps, while my run flat tires fight to counteract this. I test drove one with regular tires, which provided a smooth ride and fixed my main complaint.



Conclusion

Overall, I feel the X3 M40i is the best sporty small SUV on the market, aside from Porsche’s Macan. Audi, Mercedes, and Alpha all have good offerings, BMW simply does what I prefe. If you want a sporty SUV without the ‘Porsche tax,’ this is currently the best option out there. Audi will offer a better ride for daily commutes with its air suspension and Mercedes might be a little faster, but BMW blends these two with better dynamics—this equals a nice sporty SUV.


















X3 M40i with Full LED headlights and auto highbeams (Credit: IIHS)


SQ5 with Full LED headlights and auto highbeams (Credit: IIHS)



Full sized pictures: https://photos.app.goo.gl/znYpVNutTtIifPgX2

Last edited by AndroidRobot; 04-24-2018 at 05:12 PM.
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Old 04-24-2018, 05:48 PM
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Nice write-up! It seems that the bmw out-performs the sq just as I found with the Macan turbo as well as the glc43. I don’t think the new x3 was available when I was shopping. Still very happy with the package that is the sq5, great all arounder. Enjoy. Regards. Ned.
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Old 04-24-2018, 05:51 PM
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Originally Posted by Ngerstman View Post
Nice write-up! It seems that the bmw out-performs the sq just as I found with the Macan turbo as well as the glc43. I don’t think the new x3 was available when I was shopping. Still very happy with the package that is the sq5, great all arounder. Enjoy. Regards. Ned.
Thanks Ned, both are excellent cars made for a similar yet different experience. I will gladly buy both again, perhaps a X3M or RS Q5 depending on what's out in a couple of years .
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Old 04-24-2018, 07:06 PM
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I test drove many cars in the class and really liked the m40i. I thought the x3 and sq5 were fairly comparable with a few exceptions.
Long, gross story, but im a big sweaty dude, and im not getting any car with leather seats that arent ventilated. I couldnt find a single BMW within 250 miles with ventilated front seats. Dealer swears they dont make have the ventilated option in the x3, but you can do it on the config, so Im gonna assume he just didnt know. Simply didnt have 3 months to wait on a build. Loved that I could get alcantara in the inserts in the audi. Not the end of the world, but a point in the negative category for the bmw is their lack of android support, and that you have to pay bmw extra for the privilege of using your own phone instead of idrive. Yes, there are aftermarket options, but didnt want to go down that rabbit hole quite yet!
I really like that BMW does the pull back for upshift, forward for downshift...the way it should be! I think the BMW wins in the looks dept as well, but thats subjective

I hate to say it, but between the sq5, x3 m40, glc 43, porsche macan, jag f-pace....theyre really all the same damn car. midsize suv with around 350 hp. which one do you think looks/feels better, which one has the options you like and the fewest things you dont like. In the end, the SQ5 had what I wanted at a price I liked, so thats the one I went for. Would I have been happy with the other cars in the class? Absolutely
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Old 04-24-2018, 07:19 PM
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you need to change your screen name .... no Android Auto in BMWs.

Originally Posted by AndroidRobot View Post
Overview

After owning a 2018 SQ5 that was subsequently totaled from road debris, I wanted to share my views on my new BMW X3 M40i. Back when I bought my SQ5 in August of 2017, the M40i was not out yet. So, I only had the choice between the GLC 43, Alpha Romeo Stelvio, Porsche Macan and Jaguar F Pace. This is my first BMW, though I have driven different ones before. I will try to be as unbiased as possible.

About me: I served in the United States Marine Corps as a Combat Engineer (1371) from 2009-2012 and currently work as a Petroleum Engineer in Texas. As you might expect, I can appreciate the small details and effort put into each part of a car. Driving and technology are passions of mine. and I do not like to compromise on either when it comes to driving.

Below is my take on the new G01 X3 M40i:

Exterior

Whether you’re a fan of BMW’s kidney grill or not, their prominence is only going to grow on future models. I like the aggressive look of the new X3 because in the words of my wife, “it looks angry”. The front has nice creases in the headlights, giving the front end a nice sporty look. Add this to the M specific bumper, larger intakes, and black accents that increase the fierceness. There are bright LED fog lights which nicely blend into the front end. To accent the car, BMW uses their signature blue M Performance brake calipers that look great with the Pythonic Blue exterior.

Lighting: Coming from an SQ5 Prestige with full LED headlights, I expected good visibility form BMW’s ‘Adaptive LED’ headlights. Note: The adaptive part of these headlights stems from their ability to pivot as you turn the wheel for maximum visibility. Thankfully, I was not disappointed. These headlights were impressive. Since I live in West Texas (where street lights are a light suggestion), nighttime visibility is key. The headlights made me realize how much of the road I was missing because their normal range (low beams only) was far better than my SQ5. This observation was confirmed after the IIHS released their crash test data, which includes lighting.

Moving around the back of the car, you will find revised rear LED tail lights, real exhaust ports and a gunmetal colored lower facia. I know many people who think all Mercedes, Audi and BMW models look the same year after year, but I think this refresh does just enough to set it apart. No rear fog lights are offered, and none are really needed. The taillights are very bright, as with any full LED setup. Reverse lights are also LED’s, unlike the US versions of Audi’s Q5 and SQ5.

Keyless entry works like a charm, with the ability to unlock only the driver’s door or all doors. You can change this setting in iDrive to include the trunk as well. To lock the car, you simply need to touch the ribbed spot on any handle, making accidental presses nearly impossible. Each door handle pulls straight out.



Interior

Seating: BMW’s choice of interior styling offers a welcoming environment with their driver- oriented set up. I opted for the Cognac Vernasca leather because of how well it goes with my Pythonic blue exterior. The front seats offer something I wish Audi did in their SQ5, adjustable side bolsters via their 14-way power seats. I am not the largest of people at 5”8’ and 143lbs, so thankfully these seats offer more flexibility without sacrificing comfort. For those of you who are on the larger side, these seats don’t appear to be welcoming like in my old SQ5. My wife, who is 5”1’ /100lbs, finds her seat to very comfortable once the bolsters are adjusted to the narrowest setting. While the leather isn’t diamond- stitched for the classic upscale look, I enjoy the simplicity of BMW’s styling here. I’m not happy with BMW for not offering their M Sport steering wheel on the X3 M40i, a standard on RoW vehicles (rest of world). There’s nothing inherently wrong with the current one, but I prefer the M Sport one for the look and feel.

Materials: From the dash to trunk, you won’t find any unwanted hard surfaces or ‘cheap-feeling’ areas. BMW uses a stitched soft-touch material on the upper door sills and dash that reminds me more of leather than the weird rubber-like material of my SQ5. Interior trim options range from aluminum to wood, all complementary to specific seat colors. I have the Grey Poplar wood, which tied with the standard Aluminum Rhombical trim. Doors are trimmed in the same leather as your seats, giving the cabin a more luxurious feel. One complaint I do have is the use of a gloss plastic around the center console, since it’s impossible to keep clean and will show scratches in direct sunlight. This is one area I’m willing to accept, given the excellent design of everything else.

Technology: Inside the center stack offers natural-feeling controls for iDrive which are simple and intuitive for anyone who can use a smartphone. The center screen on my M40i is 10.3” with a 1440*540, and has vivid colors with a refined appearance. iDrive offers a vast amount of customization options from driving modes, to display contents to climate control. All these settings can be saved to your key, so there’s no need to change them back when your spouse or guest uses the spare key. I was happy to see the car readjust all settings automatically, including the driver’s seat when I tried using the second key. There’s also gesture support, which while somewhat gimmicky, has also proven to be especially useful. There are a few supported gestures, one of which you can remap to a variety of things, depending on your preference. BMW has much better remote support with the BMW Connected app vs the MMI on. I enjoy being able to see a 360 view of my car while at the store, or just about anywhere. You will also can do the following things remotely:

· Lock/unlock the car

· Turn on/off headlights

· Honk the horn,

· Turn on climate control (this can be scheduled too)

· Locate car

· Etc.



BMW’s instrument cluster, while fully digital, doesn’t have the same refinement Audi offers with their Virtual Cockpit. This is going to change with the release of iDrive 7.0 in the new X5 later this year. I found BMW’s digital gauges retained their classical styling with modern touches. There are 3 different gauge clusters you get depending on the driving mode, Sport/Sport+, Comfort/Adaptive, and Eco Pro. Of course, if you’d rather not have the cluster change on a drive mode basis, there is a way to disable this option in iDrive as with almost every setting. Customization inside is near infinite! Moving on to the full color heads up display (HUD), you get to see everything from media options to route guidance. BMW’s implementation here is the best so far. You can customize the HUD by adding/removing elements you do not care for (speed alerts, current speed limit, nav directions etc.).

One area I am extremely pleased with is the wireless (Qi based) charging tray. For those of you who are not aware, Qi is the wireless charging standard that beat out Powermat (back by Duracell). All new/old phones with wireless charging will be fully supported. I tested my Samsung S9+ and Note 8 in the tray during some spirited drives and the phone never once stopped charging. I’m glad BMW understands how consumers are using larger phones and made their wireless charging tray accommodate them without missing a beat.

Storage: Interior storage space in my X3 M40i is very generous (not quite ‘American’ sized like a F-150 or Tahoe), with room for my rather large Note 8 and S9+ inside the center console or wireless charging tray. From the small bin on the left side of your steering wheel to the glove box, I never felt more storage was necessary. I was pleased to see normal sized cup holders and could be hidden via the roll top like cover, which also covers your wireless charging phone tray. USB ports are found (2 in total) in convenient areas. One lies within the phone tray and another in your center console. These support 5V/2A+ charging, leaving ample power for most devices. Trunk space is slightly more than in the SQ5 with side bins to keep smaller items. Unfortunately, there is no cargo net to keep items in these side areas, making me question why they exist.



Performance and Driving

Anyone who has driven a recent BMW should know their vehicles are very driver-oriented. There was a time when BMW’s were true driver’s cars, but with modern technology some of the great things (steering feel) are lost. You will be happy to know the steering has some good feedback and is not entirely numb like some other models. Of course, the steering will never be E36/E46 M3 quality here, but for a sporty SUV it remains closer to the Macan than SQ5.

Drive modes: Whether you will be launching the M40i from a stop light or simply commuting to work, there is a driving mode for both. Every time the car is started, you will be in comfort mode, which basically translates to ‘normal’ with a relatively numb acceleration mapping. Adaptive is the next option, which falls between comfort and Sport. In Adaptive, mashing the pedal will result in a wall of power more quickly. Now, if you really want to have fun, Sport/Sport+ are the best drive modes. Who can resist the nice ‘burble/crackle’ you get on every up and down shift. By unleashing the beast in Sport+, you really get to see the M40i come to life. I was impressed with the sheer brute force the TwinPower (twin scroll) I6 provides, even though its power/torque are nearly identical to my SQ5. Whether or not the M40i is faster than others, it certainly feels that way. The M40i feels a class above the SQ5 in terms of acceleration and power. Staggered wheels provide good traction for the rear-biased AWD system, while also offering better looks. I generally drive in Adaptive most days and sometimes Sport+ while merging onto a highway, or to scare my wife (she doesn’t enjoy this when it’s unexpected).

Handling/Ride Quality: No one is expecting a 2-ton SUV to be a nimble sports car, although given the near perfect weight distribution, there’s no noticeable under/over steer that I’ve seen so far. Between the front and rear you get a 50.6%/49.4% split in weight, making this SUV feel sporty. On the other hand, my SQ5 featured a front heavy approach, sitting at a 54.3%/45.7% split. Steering is accurate and responds how you would expect. BMW has variable ratio steering like Audi’s “Dynamic Steering,” offering a faster ratio for the first ~90 deg. of steering; this makes low speed maneuvering easier.

AWD: There’s no doubt Audi’s Quattro system destroys X-Drive here, thanks in part to the sport differential and torque vectoring. I’ve been able to slightly lose traction in corners, where my Audi would remain firmly planted. You could call the BMW more fun thanks to this, since you can feel like you’re in a RWD SUV in those situations. I’ve yet to test my M40i on anything but wet roads, so I cannot speak to how well the system works in snow. During the one time we had rain since purchasing my car, everything felt firmly planted with no fear of losing grip.

Wheels: My car was optioned with a 21” wheel, featuring dreadfully awful run flat tires. Keep in mind there are no non-run flat tires available in the OEM spec of 245/40 R21 & 275/35 R21 103Y at the time of writing this. Thankfully, I will be replacing these with 20” wheels and non-run flat tires within the next month or so. I find the ride to be a little bumpier than my SQ5’s plush air suspension. Active dampers on the M Suspension option help smooth out bumps, while my run flat tires fight to counteract this. I test drove one with regular tires, which provided a smooth ride and fixed my main complaint.



Conclusion

Overall, I feel the X3 M40i is the best sporty small SUV on the market, aside from Porsche’s Macan. Audi, Mercedes, and Alpha all have good offerings, BMW simply does what I prefe. If you want a sporty SUV without the ‘Porsche tax,’ this is currently the best option out there. Audi will offer a better ride for daily commutes with its air suspension and Mercedes might be a little faster, but BMW blends these two with better dynamics—this equals a nice sporty SUV.


















X3 M40i with Full LED headlights and auto highbeams (Credit: IIHS)


SQ5 with Full LED headlights and auto highbeams (Credit: IIHS)



Full sized pictures: https://photos.app.goo.gl/znYpVNutTtIifPgX2
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Old 04-25-2018, 09:58 AM
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I am also debating the new SQ5 and the X3 M40i...

I presently have a 2016 SQ5
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Old 04-25-2018, 10:12 AM
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Great write-up and review! And wow what a perfectly equipped X3! Nicely done between the color combination, wheels, packages and M Sport, that is one sexy looking SUV!!
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Old 04-25-2018, 10:24 AM
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Originally Posted by BrooklynSQ5 View Post
Great write-up and review! And wow what a perfectly equipped X3! Nicely done between the color combination, wheels, packages and M Sport, that is one sexy looking SUV!!
Thank you. I'll be adding new wheels (Style 699M factory 20") powder coated in a satin bronze in the next few weeks to finish things up. After that I might go for blacked out logos but nothing else. The interior really goes well with their blue. I'm very happy with the car!
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Old 04-25-2018, 01:42 PM
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looks cool whats the cost.....
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Old 04-25-2018, 08:14 PM
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Originally Posted by jupiterfish View Post
looks cool whats the cost.....
Sticker was $69320, I paid before taxes and the like $58320.
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