BMW X3 M

Editors' Review

The 2020 BMW X3 M Competition is, perhaps, the answer to a question no one was asking -- at least, no one 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 legendary M3 sport sedan, then went on to kick it up an extra notch with Competition-spec power and grip. Perhaps most impressively, this bizarre chimera doesn't feel like a hot mess when pushed to its limits; it's actually a competent performer.

But at what cost? In the pursuit of class-bending performance, the brutal X3 M Competition must delicately balance comfort compromises, a hefty price tag and the realities of physics. Yes, it's a silly good time, but it's also tough to recommend with a straight face.

BMW's most powerful six-cylinder

The 2020 BMW X3 M and the more hardcore M Competition are both powered by BMW's 3.0-liter twin-turbocharged six-cylinder engine. The X3 M makes 473 horsepower and 442 pound-feet of torque. The M Competition steps up to an even more epic 503 ponies thanks to increased boost pressure (18.9 psi vs. 17.4 psi) and a freer-flowing exhaust. In Competition tune, the so-called S58 engine is the most powerful production I6 engine BMW has ever built.

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The Good ~ Turbocharged I6 makes 503 horsepower in Competition spec ~ Handling and braking hardware also see serious upgrades ~ M1, M2 shortcuts put drive mode changes at the flick of a thumb ~ A total hoot to drive

The Bad ~ Ride quality is harsh, even in Comfort mode ~ Increased road noise makes for unpleasant commutes ~ Costs as much as buying a more practical SUV and a dedicated sports car

The Bottom Line The 2020 BMW X3 M Competition is an amazing feat of engineering and a surprisingly thrilling ride, but compromising on comfort in the pursuit of performance make it a less-than-optimal daily driver.

Editors' Rating
  • Performance 9
  • Features 7.5
  • Design 8
  • Media 8

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