2020 BMW X3 M Competition review: Crazy-fast crossover is just plain crazy

The 2020 BMW X3 M Competition is, potentially, the reply to a query no a person was asking — at the very least, no a person that I know, anyway. BMW’s engineers have managed to imbue the upright, doughy chassis of the X3 compact SUV with the athletic soul of […]

The 2020 BMW X3 M Competition is, potentially, the reply to a query no a person was asking — at the very least, no a person that I know, anyway. BMW’s engineers have managed to imbue the upright, doughy chassis of the X3 compact SUV with the athletic soul of the famous M3 sport sedan, then went on to kick it up an extra notch with Competition-spec ability and grip. Possibly most impressively, this strange chimera does not experience like a very hot mess when pushed to its limits it can be basically a proficient performer.


  • Turbocharged I6 tends to make 503 horsepower in Competition spec
  • Managing and braking components also see major upgrades
  • M1, M2 shortcuts set travel manner variations at the flick of a thumb
  • A whole hoot to travel

Do not Like

  • Experience high-quality is severe, even in Comfort manner
  • Elevated highway sound tends to make for unpleasant commutes
  • Expenses as a lot as shopping for a far more functional SUV and a dedicated sports activities car or truck

But at what price? In the pursuit of course-bending overall performance, the brutal X3 M Competition need to delicately balance comfort and ease compromises, a hefty selling price tag and the realities of physics. Indeed, it can be a silly fantastic time, but it can be also tough to suggest with a straight encounter.

BMW’s most potent 6-cylinder

The 2020 BMW X3 M and the far more hardcore M Competition are both powered by BMW’s three.-liter twin-turbocharged 6-cylinder engine. The X3 M tends to make 473 horsepower and 442 pound-feet of torque. The M Competition ways up to an even far more epic 503 ponies thanks to enhanced raise pressure (eighteen.9 psi vs. 17.4 psi) and a freer-flowing exhaust. In Competition tune, the so-termed S58 engine is the most potent output I6 engine BMW has ever crafted.

Both way you go, the straight-6 is mated to an 8-speed, ZF-sourced automated transmission — the really identical gearbox, I am explained to, as the M5 sedan — and an “M-tuned” variation of the automaker’s xDrive all-wheel-travel system with a rear-biased torque break up and a rear minimal-slip differential. Unlike the M5, the X3 M does not element a a hundred% rear-travel manner, and that is fine. I really don’t assume any individual is likely to be drifting a compact SUV.

Fulfilling exhaust pops and crackles all through shifts and throttle lifts allow anyone else in the preschool fall-off queue know that you signify enterprise, hinting at the generous thrust and a enjoyable roar that the X3 M responds with when you flooring the gas pedal. In Competition spec, the X3 M will sprint to sixty mph in 4 seconds flat — a person-tenth of a 2nd a lot quicker than the non-Competition model — before likely on to a a hundred and fifty five-mph top rated speed. Test the box to clear away the electronic limiter and the top rated speed rises to 177 mph. Not terrible for a grocery-getter.

M-tuned managing

BMW failed to just improve the engine and connect with it a working day. The X3 M Competition also capabilities M-specific chassis elements to match the remarkable straight-line overall performance.

The wheel arches are stuffed with massive, staggered, 21-inch rollers shod with summer time tires — 9.five-inch broad wheels with 255/40 tires in the front and ten-inchers with 265/40 rubber out back. Peering from guiding the spokes are M-compound brakes with cross-drilled rotors and shiny blue calipers. 

The X3 M Competition rides on an adaptive suspension with dynamic dampers that toggle between Comfort, Activity and Activity Additionally firmness configurations at the contact of a button. Aiding in dynamic managing is special “M-tuned” program for the traction and balance control. With gobs of mechanical grip and a company suspension set up, the X3 M Competition stays remarkably flat when cornering, inspiring self-confidence and encouraging far more speed by every corner. (Possibly there should be a drift manner?)

An oft-neglected aspect of any motor vehicle suspension is the connection between butt and seat, and I am delighted to see that BMW has outfitted the X3 M Competition with a solid established of M Activity buckets. With 14-way adjustability, it can be quick to come across the perfect seating situation and — with grippy perforated trim, ability-adjustable seat back bolsters and company hip bolsters — to keep locked firmly in that seating situation even though chucking the X3 around. I come across the decreased bolsters a tad far too narrow and restricted around the hips for comfort and ease, but I am absolutely sure glad they’re there when loading up the g-pressure.


Aesthetically, the X3 M capabilities a far more intense front air dam and system panels. The tweaked sort has the function of also improving upon aerodynamics at speed.

Antuan Goodwin/Roadshow

The X3 M Competition appears to be to thumb its nose at the regulations of physics, but the higher-ish centre of mass and hefty control body weight are however bound by them. At moments, the X3 M can experience a little bit imprecise and a minimal ungraceful. When actually obtaining following it, the tall seating situation feels a little bit bizarre, amplifying the sensation of system roll when it finally transpires. (Editor-in-chief Tim Stevens also mentioned this all through his transform on the keep track of last year.)

And yet, the X3 M Competition generally feels keen to make sure you and to drive just a little bit harder. The SUV is joyful to charge up and down my most loved twisty mountain highway more than and more than all over again with a zest and zeal for the travel that is scarce to come across amid modern-day sports activities automobiles — to say nothing at all of “sporty” compact SUVs.

M1 and M2 personalized modes

My most loved cabin tech and ergonomic depth is, at the time all over again, a person borrowed from the M5 sedan: the M1 and M2 thumb toggles on the steering wheel. 

By using the M Dynamic menu on the key infotainment display screen, you can combine and match Comfort, Activity and Activity Additionally configurations for the throttle response, transmission, chassis and steering and balance control, assigning your most loved mixtures to M1 and M2 travel modes that correspond to the M1 and M2 buttons. Thumbing a person of these vivid pink toggles promptly remembers the preset. 

I established M1 to all Activity configurations and M2 to Activity Additionally. I loved how I could transform onto a fantastic driving highway and promptly alter the angle of the X3 M from Comfort to Activity without ever letting go of (or even shuffling my fingers on) the steering wheel. It would be better, I assume, if there was some way to tie the seats into these modes — even anything as very simple as tightening the bolsters in my M2 Activity Additionally placing and comforting them when I return to Comfort manner would be appreciated.


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Competition compromises

There is no query, the 2020 BMW X3 M Competition is an absolute blast to travel. The sheer the audacity of it tends to make having a spin truly worth it just for the lulz. Nevertheless, I have a difficult time figuring out who this motor vehicle is for — perfectly, over and above people today with far more dollars than feeling — which tends to make it really difficult to suggest to your ordinary client. On a person hand, I can have an understanding of the attractiveness of a person do-it-all motor vehicle that can haul groceries, in shape car or truck seats and strike the keep track of on the weekend. On the other hand, this ain’t it, chief. 

The suspension, even in its Comfort placing, is firmer than several cars’ Activity placing, and considerably far too severe for my style as a day by day driver. The company trip also results in far more highway sound that, when amplified by the SUV’s cabin, results in loud booming more than bumps and freeway expansion joints. And these M Activity seats that retain me so planted in the corners are far too company, bordering on unpleasant, for for a longer time hauls. As soon as the adrenaline rush is more than and I basically have to dwell with the X3 M Competition, it can, at moments, be an unpleasant day by day driver.

On the overall performance aspect of the equation, I haven’t been to any fanatic keep track of working day occasions that will make it possible for even a “levels of competition spec” SUV to take part — maybe factors are distinct in your neck of the woods — restricting the X3 M Competition owner’s entry to keep track of time. And yeah, the Competition is however 4,620 lbs of fun on public roadways, but you actually want a keep track of to expertise all that this M motor vehicle has to offer you, not to point out justify its $twenty,000-ish selling price quality more than the base X3.


I am no guardian, but I can’t think about a boy or girl in a car or truck-seat would be capable to rest soundly on the X3 M Competition’s loud, bumpy cabin.

Antuan Goodwin/Roadshow

Pricing and levels of competition

The 2020 BMW X3 M commences at $sixty nine,900, but the far more potent and strong X3 M Competition commences at $76,900. Apart from $550 for paint, my example does not have several alternatives, but boasts a generous loadout of conventional capabilities at that selling price. I’d suggest thinking of a $1,700 driver support suite that provides halt-and-go-able adaptive cruise control and prolonged collision mitigation, building it a safer and far more hassle-free day by day driver. That’ll deliver you to a encouraged selling price of $eighty,a hundred forty five including a $995 vacation spot charge.

This course of higher-overall performance SUVs is a escalating a person. No shock, crossovers and SUVs are the best automotive segment. The X3 M Competition is joined by automobiles like the 434-hp Porsche Macan Turbo, Alfa Romeo’s 505-hp Stelvio Quadrifoglio and the 469-hp Mercedes-AMG GLC63 (or the 503-hp GLC63 S Coupe). Between this modest-but-fierce course, the X3 M Competition is competitively priced and stands out as a person of the sharpest alternatives… if you are into that kind of thing.

Individually, I am positioning the X3 M Competition — and its around-similar sibling the BMW X4 M Competition — squarely in the “appreciate to travel it, but would not acquire it” group. It truly is an remarkable feat of engineering, but for my hypothetical eighty grand, I’d instead have two automobiles: a far more realistic and cozy day by day-driver SUV and a dedicated sports activities car or truck for the weekend. For this type of dollars, you could acquire a Toyota Supra and a RAV4 Hybrid, an M2 Competition and a Mazda CX-five, or any of a dozen other combos that will be far more fun on a keep track of and far more cozy on the way to get the job done.

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