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BMW hots up X3 and X4 models. Image by BMW.

BMW hots up X3 and X4 models
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What's all this about?

Following the unexpected sales success of behemoth vehicles like the X5 M and X6 M, BMW has now turned its performance-car attention to the current generations of the X3 and X4. And so, in order to surpass the existing 360hp X3 M40i or the 326hp X4 M40d, BMW has gone all out. We've got M versions of each. Four of them, in fact.


Yes, we have the X3 M and X3 M Competition, and then the X4 M and the X4 M Competition. The Competition versions follow on from the M2 Competition and M5 Competition, and represent a step up from the regular variants.

So, what have we got?

All four new BMW SUV Ms are powered by a 3.0-litre, twin-turbo, straight-six petrol engine, which drives all four wheels through an eight-speed M Steptronic gearbox and a rear-biased M xDrive all-wheel-drive system. For the X3 M and X4 M, this unit delivers 480hp and 600Nm; step up to the Competition, and the peak power rises to 510hp, although the maximum torque remains the same. These numbers, despite each of the quartet weighing around two tonnes apiece, mean that the 'plain' Ms can do 0-62mph in 4.2 seconds, while the Competitions trim a tenth from that for a 4.1-second benchmark. Top speeds are 155- or 174mph, both electronically limited, with the higher one dependent on whether the customer has ticked the 'M Driver's Package' option on the spec sheet.

Are the Competition models just more power?

No, they gain black badging, door mirrors and kidney grilles, an M Sport exhaust system, larger 21-inch M light-alloy wheels and a choice of two bespoke, metallic colours - Toronto Red and Donington Grey. They also have sportier, bucket-shaped M Sport seats with extended Merino leather and an illuminated M logo. On the X3 M Competition, this is an option, but on the X4 M Competition, it's standard-fit. So you X4 buyers can lord it over your inferior X3 neighbours with that little gem, then...

And what about the looks and interior of the X3 M and X4 M in general?

The 480hp models run on 20-inch alloys, while they have larger front air intakes than other X3/X4 models, side breathers with M gills aft of the fore wheels, quad exhausts in new diffuser arrangements and rear spoilers - roof-mounted on the X3 M, a small Gurney-esque flap on the X4 M's boot lip. All four models get an interior with an M-specific instrument cluster, an M leather steering wheel with shift paddles and M buttons, an M gear lever, a red start/stop button and interior 'Aluminium carbon' trim fillets. The non-Competition pair hardly have to slum it for cow hide, as they come with Vernasca leather as standard.

Are there any chassis tweaks?

Of course - these are M cars, after all. All X3 M and X4 M models employ an Active M Differential, M-specific suspension with electronically controlled dampers, M-specific steering and powerful M compound brakes.

What about fuel economy?

Seriously? Either variant of the X3 M will do a combined 26.9mpg with 239g/km of CO2 emissions. Weirdly, the more aerodynamic X4 M pair emit the same CO2, but are only claimed to do 26.7mpg on the combined cycle. To compensate, the X4 M - like its regular siblings - has its own chassis settings, in order to make it feel a little more special to drive than the X3 M. Aside from this, and the option of an optional M Carbon styling pack that's due to join the line-up in August 2019, we think everything is covered.

Not quite - which vehicles are the X3/X4 M quartet aimed at?

Principally, high-performance SUVs from other premium brands, such as the Alfa Romeo Stelvio Quadrifoglio, the Mercedes-AMG GLC 63 S and more potent variants of the facelifted Porsche Macan, which at the moment tops out with a 354hp engine; making it more of an M40i rival, until a Turbo inevitably arrives.

Matt Robinson - 12 Feb 2019

2019 BMW X3 M and X4 M. Image by BMW.2019 BMW X3 M and X4 M. Image by BMW.      - BMW road tests
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