The BMW X3 M has been a query of when, not if, for a number of years now. With increasingly more consumers turning away from conventional performance-oriented segments, that is very a lot an M automobile of the instances.
Purists might scoff at that, however maybe that’s why it’s taken BMW so lengthy to supply us with a rival for the Mercedes-AMG GLC 63. It may be why this newcomer, in a single key method, serves up an early preview of the M division’s subsequent massive factor to get the crowds .
Below the suitably angular and sporty metallic is a brand new engine – primarily a completely redeveloped model of BMW’s three.Zero-litre turbocharged straight-six that’ll make its method into the new M3 someday subsequent yr.
In Competitors spec (the common, 474bhp automobile isn’t coming to Britain), the X3 M serves up 503bhp and 600Nm of torque despatched to an xDrive four-wheel drive set-up, which BMW’s engineers have injected with as a lot rear-biased DNA as attainable.
That energy determine offers the X3 M Competitors the identical output because the Alfa Romeo Stelvio Quadrifoglio and the V8-engined Mercedes-AMG GLC 63 S. But the dearth of bark isn’t any dent within the BMW’s character; the brand new engine is probably the most highly effective straight-six ever concocted for an M automobile, enabling Zero-62mph in simply four.1 seconds.
Nevertheless it’s the best way it delivers that efficiency that makes this engine an actual different to the thunderous Merc. For a turbocharged unit, it displays some naturally aspirated traits. It’s pretty linear in its supply, and with the energetic exhaust valves open it’s a pleasure to string out proper as much as a heady 7,200rpm redline. On the reverse finish of the rev band it’s deep, purposeful and susceptible to spitting and crackling, too. It has masses extra character than the marginally droning, mid-range surge of the three.Zero-litre within the outgoing M3, and it feels extra versatile.
Unsurprisingly, given the large energy and torque on supply, a protracted squeeze of the throttle hauls the X3 M nearer to its 155mph restricted high velocity with relentless ferocity. It might go a lot, a lot quicker than this; BMW will up the cap to 174mph on request.
For all there’s to love in regards to the new straight-six, many will nonetheless discover the Merc’s V8 extra thrilling and extra appropriate in these heaviest of efficiency vehicles. The extra guttural Stelvio outpaces the newcomer on paper, too. It bodes effectively for the subsequent M3, nevertheless, demonstrating a breadth to its skills that ought to make the brand new supersaloon a really proficient automobile. With the exhaust closed it’s unobtrusive, and the eight-speed transmission works effectively.
The gearbox is configurable; you possibly can depart it in auto, or utilise the Drivelogic system first discovered within the M5. This enables the motive force to change the traits of the shifts in each handbook and computerized mode, with three ranges to select from.
It presents a minor downside for the X3 M’s in any other case spectacular drivetrain. Left in its least aggressive setting it’s simply too lazy for the motor it’s hooked up to. Ramp it up and also you lastly get the crisp, swift shifts you’d anticipate, however you’ll have to leap on the paddles to cease it from holding on to for too lengthy.
The X3 M Competitors suggestions the scales at 1,970kg, however whereas that’s one thing you’ll concentrate on when driving, it’s controllable. The steering is like every other up to date M-badged BMW – it’s correct, delicate and smart, however lacks the last word heft of outdated M vehicles.
What tames the X3 M Competitors and offers you confidence to press on is the xDrive set-up. BMW claims that the all-wheel drive system encompasses a rear bias, and whereas there’s undoubtedly fact in that, when you ease the traction settings again and start to discover the automobile’s edges, the protection internet is clear. This implies you possibly can pin the throttle fairly early out of corners, extra so than within the barely extra playful Alfa. The M1 and M2 settings on the wheel might be configured to your wishes, however the defaults bundled by BMW really feel like rounded set-ups few will tinker with.
There’s no escaping that at low speeds the X3 M Competitors is rock arduous. It options adjustable, electronically managed dampers. However the set-up, even in its slackest setting, feels prefer it has been engineered to smother jolts and imperfections at tempo. Quicker roads unearth a extra pliant facet, which makes the X3 a superb automobile to hustle cross nation on quicker roads and motorways. All over the place else, you’ll really feel its agency edge chew. A cliche, however a really black and white case of it.
Inside, there’s a load of M-badged trinkets, alongside electronically adjustable sports activities seats. There’s no doubting the standard of the inside, simply outflanking the Alfa Stelvio QV and higher built-in than the combination of outdated and new discovered within the facelifted GLC. Solely the Porsche Macan can pip this for a driver-oriented, well-trimmed inside.