Warp-speed crossovers are here to stay with BMW getting ready to join the high-performance club with a pure M version of their all-new, third generation X3 that just recently went on sale.
Placed above the already-available X3 M40i, the X3M promises to be for compact luxury crossovers what the M3 is to sedans, delivering blistering performance to those who prefer a more practical body style, especially in absence (sadly) of a Touring (estate) model, even if it comes with a small price in handling and weight.
Our spies got close enough to a prototype of the X3M during testing and grabbed several pictures of both the exterior and for the first time, of the interior.
Will it look different than the other X3s?
If you’re asking whether you’ll be able to tell it apart from regular X3s, the answer is yes, but if you’re specifically wondering about other “M Sport” edition of the X3, including the X3 M40i, we’ll say only if you pay attention to details.
To explain, like most “M” models these days, BMW’s performance arm prefers a more subtle approach to styling. Beyond a slightly modified version of the “M Sport” body kit that adds more sculpted bumpers and side skits (and which is available on all X3s), the X3M will try to stand out with quad pipes, bespoke larger wheels, blue-colored brake calipers, and model-specific trimmings, such as the double kidney slats.
Just don’t go searching for most of these elements on the prototype we captured testing on the snow, as the only exterior tell-tale signs were the M model’s trademark four exhausts and massive brakes, but they’ll be on the production car.
BMW M employs the same principles in their interiors – upgraded “M Sport” kit with some bespoke details here and there. As you can see in these pictures, compared to the X3 M40i, the main difference is the new M shifter in an upside-down “L” shape with red accents that continue on the adjacent suspension mode buttons, both of which can be found in the new M5. Aside from M-specific digital instruments, we suspect that BMW will also give the X3M a red start-button – just like on the M5.
An M3 in SUV guise
While there’s nothing to get too excited about the X3M’s styling, there’s plenty going on under the skin. The biggest changes are hidden under its bonnet, where we’ll find the next iteration of BMW’s high-performance 3.0-liter turbocharged-six. Codenamed S58, it’s actually based on the B58 used in the X3 M40i where it makes 355hp (360 PS) and 500Nm of torque (368 lb-ft), with upgraded hardware. The unit, which will be used in the next M3 and M4 models too, is believed to produce around 460 horsepower in the X3 application.
Paired to a standard 8-speed automatic transmission and a specially tuned rear-biased xDrive all-wheel-drive system, the X3M should be able to go from zero to 100km/h (62mph) in 4 seconds flat. For comparison, the new X3 M40i does it in 4.8 seconds (0-60mph in 4.6 sec). Top speed will likely be electronically limited to 155mph or 250km/h, but some markets might get an optional performance package to increase it to around 170mph or 275km/h.
To improve handling, the X3 M will get a modified double-wishbone front and multi-link rear suspension setup, together with larger diameter wheels (possibly 21 inches) and a high performance brake system with beefed up discs. The electronic driving aids and modes will also be modified by BMW M’s engineers.
When can I get my hands on one?
We don’t have a specific launch date in our hands at this time, but BMW is expected to begin production of the X3 M at its North American plant in Spartanburg, South Carolina, later in the second half of the year. In any case, you should be able to order one by winter. As for pricing, it should hover around the $70,000 mark.
What if I can’t wait for the X3M?
Well, lucky you, there are plenty of choices in the high-performance premium compact crossover segment. For starters, if 355hp and a 0-60mph time of 4.6 seconds sound enticing – and that’s fast enough for 99% of the time most of us spend behind the wheel, you can snag an X3 M40i right now for $54,500 and call it a day.
Still, if you’re in dire need of more horses and bragging rights, Alfa Romeo offers the 505hp Stelvio Quadrifolgio for $81,590, Porsche has the $77,200 Macan Turbo with 400hp and the $87,700 Macan Turbo w/Performance Package and 440hp, while in a couple of months, the Mercedes-AMG the 469hp GLC 63 and 503hp GLC 63 S will go on sale in the States too.