Select a year
- Highs Absurdly quick and smooth powertrain, transcends typical crossover abilities, exceeds the practicality of compact sedans.
- Lows More power than most people need, ride can be overly stiff, too many drive-mode settings.
- Verdict Depending on how you feel about scary-quick crossovers, the X3 M is either excessive or extraordinary.
The 2020 BMW X3 M aims to satiate the select few who crave a high-powered, hard-charging compact luxury crossover. Much like its mechanically identical sloped-roof sibling—the X4 M—this Bimmer has a mighty twin-turbo six-cylinder engine underhood that makes up to 503 horsepower. It also features an unconventional all-wheel-drive system with a rear-drive mode and a slew of specific cosmetic treatments. Based on the less extreme BMW X3, the M variant has equivalent practicality and exponential levels of excitement. The outrageous crossover pushes the boundaries of its breed by exceeding the performance of many sports sedans. While the 2020 X3 M is more powerful and agile than many people probably think is necessary, those with an appetite for extreme crossovers will be completely satisfied.
What's New for 2020?
BMW finally gives the X3 its highest performance treatment, courtesy of the brand's iconic M division. The hot-rod enhancements apply to the ute's chassis, drivetrain, and powertrain. Of course, the X3 M also gets spruced-up exterior and interior details.
Pricing and Which One to Buy
We think the X3 Competition is the one to get. After all, if you're going to buy a raucous crossover, why not really go for it and get the extra 30 ponies and enhanced equipment of the Comp? This version wears a gloss-black grille and mirror caps and nets a standard sport exhaust system, larger anti-roll bars, and black 21-inch wheels (versus 20s on the M). Its interior upgrades include distinct "M" badging, more supportive front seats, and richer Merino leather. Among the myriad options, we'd select the Executive and M Driver's packages. The former adds copious luxuries (a head-up display, panoramic sunroof, self-parking assist, etc.) and the latter unlocks a higher top speed (177 mph versus 155) and one day of professional driving lessons.
Find your perfect ride!
We're partnering with Carvana because we want to make it easy for you to find the exact vehicle you're looking for.
Engine, Transmission, and Performance
This crossover's twin-turbocharged 3.0-liter inline-six-cylinder is as smooth as it is powerful. The BMW mill has been massaged by the M performance division to make between 473 and 503 horsepower and a steady 442 pound-feet of torque. The extra ponies are reserved for the Competition model, which also adds a standard sport exhaust system and 21-inch wheels. Every X3 M comes with an eight-speed automatic transmission and an all-wheel-drive system that can send 100 percent of the engine's torque to the back wheels when needed. The X3 M Competition is absurdly quick and shockingly agile for what it is. It rips to 60 mph in 3.3 seconds, closes the gap between 50 and 70 mpg in 3.1 ticks, and completes the quarter-mile in 11.6 seconds at 119 mph. For context, a 2016 M3 Competition sedan is significantly slower than the SUV in the first and last measures. The X3 M also stops from 70 mph in the same 146 feet as that sedan and circles our skidpad with an impressive 0.97 g of grip. While the crazy crossover is too hardcore for most people to appreciate every day, its standard adaptive dampers provide a gentle enough ride in the softest setting. And its thick-rimmed steering wheel transmits a respectable amount of feedback, with the steering never stopping us from enjoying the lower limits of its impressive capabilities.
Fuel Economy and Real-World MPG
The EPA estimates that the 2020 X3 M and X3 M Competition will earn 14 mpg in the city and 19 mpg on the highway, figures that fall significantly short of those from rivals such as the Alfa Romeo Stelvio Quadrifoglio (with 17 and 23 mpg, respectively) and the Mercedes-AMG GLC63 SUV (16 and 22 mpg). However, the Bimmer performed better in the real world. On our 200-mile highway fuel-economy route, the X3 M exceeded the government's highway rating by 7 mpg, for a total of 26 mpg. For comparison, we observed 20 mpg in the GLC63 SUV and 21 in the Stelvio QF, both of which missed their EPA highway ratings by 2 mpg.
Interior, Comfort, and Cargo
The X3 M shares its interior design and dimensions with the regular X3. However, the sportier version enjoys more standard luxury features and an assortment of exclusive details. The latter mainly consists of "M" badging, red drive-mode buttons on the steering wheel, and aggressively bolstered front seats. The Competition uses front chairs with even more bolstering. Throughout the cabin, attractive materials show off BMW's adherence to upscale aesthetics. Along with this crossover's standard leather upholstery and selectable interior accents, BMW has provided a 12.3-inch digital gauge cluster, 14-way power front seats, customizable ambient interior lighting, and heated front-seat cushions. Still not swanky enough? Buyers can opt for finer leather and a host of premium options, including a head-up display, heated rear seats, a heated steering wheel, a panoramic sunroof, and side window shades in the rear. There's plenty of passenger space for all, as well as a generous amount of cargo room. We managed to fit seven carry-on suitcases behind the X3's rear seat and 20 with the seatbacks folded. Buyers of the mechanically similar X4 M will give up some of that space to that model's dramatically sloped rear end.
Infotainment and Connectivity
Every X3 M comes with a 10.3-inch touchscreen infotainment system, a 16-speaker Harman/Kardon stereo, built-in navigation, Apple CarPlay but not Android Auto compatibility, and charging ports throughout the cabin. Controlling the infotainment system is relatively straightforward. In addition to the touch capability of the screen, BMW provides a physical volume knob on the center stack and various controls on the steering wheel. There's also a rotary controller on the center console surrounded by shortcut buttons. Those who want even more bells and whistles can add gesture controls, a Wi-Fi hotspot, and wireless charging via the comprehensive Executive package.
Safety and Driver-Assistance Features
The 2020 X3 M hasn't been crash-tested by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), but the regular X3 was named a Top Safety Pick+ by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). The compact luxury crossover has an entire suite of standard driver-assistance technology as well as a handful of optional equipment such as self-parking assist. Key safety features include:
- Standard blind-spot monitor and rear-cross-traffic alert
- Standard lane-departure warning
- Available adaptive cruise control with stop-and-go technology
Warranty and Maintenance Coverage
BMW provides a competitive limited warranty and average powertrain protection plan compared with its luxury rivals. While the company's complimentary maintenance plan is shorter than Jaguar's, it's significantly better than what others offer in this class.
- Limited warranty covers four years or 50,000 miles
- Powertrain warranty covers four years or 50,000 miles
- Complimentary maintenance is covered for three years or 36,000 miles
2020 BMW X3 M Competition
front-engine, all-wheel-drive, 5-passenger, 4-door hatchback
PRICE AS TESTED
$84,395 (base price: $77,895)
twin-turbocharged and intercooled DOHC 24-valve inline-6, aluminum block and head, direct fuel injection
183 cu in, 2993 cc
473 or 503 hp @ 7300 rpm
442 lb-ft @ 2600 rpm
Suspension (F/R): strut/multilink
Brakes (F/R): 15.6-in vented, cross-drilled disc/14.6-in vented, cross-drilled disc
Tires: Michelin Pilot Sport 4S, F: 255/40R-21 (103Y) ★ R: 265/40R-21 (105Y) ★
Wheelbase: 112.8 in
Length: 186.2 in
Width: 74.7 in
Height: 65.7 in
Passenger volume: 100 cu ft
Cargo volume: 29 cu ft
Curb weight: 4549 lb
Rollout, 1 ft: 0.2 sec
60 mph: 3.3 sec
100 mph: 8.0 sec
150 mph: 21.4 sec
Rolling start, 5–60 mph: 4.7 sec
Top gear, 30–50 mph: 2.6 sec
Top gear, 50–70 mph: 3.1 sec
¼-mile: 11.6 sec @ 119 mph
Top speed (governor limited, mfr's claim): 161 mph
Braking, 70–0 mph: 146 ft
Roadholding, 300-ft-dia skidpad: 0.97 g
Observed: 17 mpg
75-mph highway driving: 25 mpg
Highway range: 430 miles
EPA FUEL ECONOMY
Combined/city/highway: 16/14/19 mpg