The popular X3 is finally getting a high-performance version!

BMW launched the X3 back in 2003 as its second SUV and the market’s first compact luxury crossover. Updated in 2010, the X3 ditched its weird-looking front fascia in favor of a nose that resembled the X5’s. The second-gen crossover also saw production move from Graz, Austria, to BMW’s U.S. factory in Greer, South Carolina. As a result, the X3 entered the North American market as a locally built vehicle with a more affordable sticker. After six successful years on the market, the second-gen X3 was replaced by a brand-new model for 2018. The big news here is that the crossover will finally get a proper M version.

With Mercedes-Benz already offering two AMG versions of the GLC and Audi reportedly working on a beefed-up versions of the Q5, BMW finally green-lighted a high-performance version of the X3 for the third-generation model. Likely to arrive by the end of 2018, the X3 M has been confirmed by BMW M chief Frank van Meel at the 2015 Detroit Auto Show.. Three years have passed and the X3 M has yet to arrive, but BMW is testing the crossover on both public roads and the Nurburgring race track. Let’s find out what it will bring to the table in the speculative review below.

Continue reading to learn more about the upcoming BMW X3 M.

Exterior

2019 BMW X3 M High Resolution Exterior
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2019 BMW X3 M High Resolution Exterior
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2018 BMW X3 M40i shown above
Now that the new-generation X3 is all official and out in the open, exterior design of the X3 M is actually easy to anticipate

Now that the new-generation X3 is all official and out in the open, exterior design of the X3 M is actually easy to anticipate. BMW’s redesign of the X3 is far from surprising, and it’s safe to assume that all those new features will find their way on the first M version of the nameplate.

Up front, the new, sportier looking LED headlamps and the significantly larger kidney grille will be joined by a more aggressive bumper section. Granted, the M40i model is already fitted with a sporty bumper than includes larger side intakes, LED foglamps, and a wide center grille, but the M package will take things up a notch. Expect even bigger air intakes and a center outlet that likely will extend farther toward the ground. Additionally, BMW will add a splitter-like element, while all the chrome will become high-sheen black.

2019 BMW X3 M High Resolution Exterior
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Likely changes around back include a diffuser-like element and a quad-pipe arrangement with big, round tailpipes

Don’t expect major changes onto the sides though, where the most noticeable new features will be slightly revised side skirts and the M-specific wheels in a unique design. The lowered suspension will also give the crossover a sportier stance, as will the small M grilles on the front fenders. The spy shots suggest that the X3 M will get carbon-fiber mirror caps too, but these might be optional extras and not standard features.

With the new M40i in dealerships, it’s easy to ask ourselves whether BMW can deliver an X3 with a sportier rear end. There isn’t that much it can do to be honest, but I can definitely see a few improvements coming with the "M" badge. Granted, the redesigned headlamps, the tailgate, and much of the bumper will remain unchanged, but the lower section should become a bit more aggressive on the X3 M. Likely changes here include a diffuser-like element and a quad-pipe arrangement with big, round tailpipes. Above the tailgate, there should be a slightly larger spoiler. The fatter tires will also be more noticeable from the rear, giving the crossover a wider stance.

A couple of unique exterior colors are also on the table, as are a host of tailored options from BMW Individual.

Prototype vs M40i

2019 BMW X3 M Exterior Spyshots
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2019 BMW X3 M High Resolution Exterior
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Interior

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2019 BMW X3 M High Resolution Interior
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There are many highlights to talk about, starting with the cool, 10.2-inch touchscreen atop the dashboard

Although the X3 M will be very similar to the non-M model on the inside, it’s worth noting that the new-generation crossover has many features to brag about. The design is modern and pleasant, and although it’s rather evolutionary, it feels fresh and shows that BMW put a lot of thought the X3’s cabin.

There are many highlights to talk about, starting with the cool, 10.2-inch touchscreen atop the dashboard and the wider center stack and console. There’s also a new steering wheel with revised controls, fresh looking door trim, and downsized HVAC and infotainment controls for a cleaner look. There’s also a larger storage area in the center console, a repackaged rear section with enhanced legroom, and a redesigned trunk with 19.4 cubic-feet of space behind the second-row seats or 56.5 cubic-feet behind the front seats.

2019 BMW X3 M High Resolution Interior
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A Nappa leather dashboard and an M-specific instrument cluster will occupy the driver’s lower visual field

On top of all of the above, be on the lookout for a host of M-specific features in the range-topping X3. A sportier, leather-wrapped steering wheel and sports seats dressed in Merino leather are the first details that come to mind. A Nappa leather dashboard and an M-specific instrument cluster will occupy the driver’s lower visual field. Additional luxury items are likely to include an Alcantara headliner, aluminum trim, and a premium surround sound system. The list of standard convenience and safety equipment should be consistent and packed with goodies such as automatically dimming rearview and exterior mirrors, four-zone automatic climate control, and Park Distance Control rearview camera.

Features like the 12.3-inch instrument cluster, full-color heads-up display, Ambient Air package, three-zone automatic climate control, and ambient lighting, which are optional on the regular X3, should be standard on the X3 M.

Drivetrain

2019 BMW X3 M High Resolution Exterior Wallpaper quality
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You shouldn’t expect a V-8-powered X3 M if you don’t want to be disappointed

You shouldn’t expect a V-8-powered X3 M if you don’t want to be disappointed, because BMW isn’t planning on dropping the X5’s bonkers, twin-turbo 4.4-liter into the crossover. Instead, the X3 M is likely to receive the same turbocharged, 3.0-liter, inline-six fitted in the new X3 M40i. Specifics are yet unknown, but the mill cranks out 355 horsepower and 369 pound-feet of torque in the M40i, while the version fitted in the M3 and M4 is rated at 425 horsepower and 406 pound-feet.

BMW should aim for at least 400 horsepower in order to make the X3 M a worthy competitor in this niche

BMW should aim for at least 400 horsepower in order to make the X3 M a worthy competitor in this niche. Sixty mph should come in around five seconds, while top speed will almost certainly be electronically limited at 155 mph, with the option to raise it to around 180 mph. BMW’s brand-new, eight-speed M Steptronic automatic is the likely transmission choice, mated to a revised xDrive all-wheel-drive system.

The drivetrain will be backed by a beefed-up chassis with track-prepped suspension components and revised settings for enhanced performance. The Nurburgring video suggests that the X3 M will be quite agile at the track.

BMW X3 M40i specifications

BMW X3 M40i
Engine 3.0-liter inline-6
Horsepower 355 HP @ 5,500-6,500 RPM
Torque 369 LB-FT @ 1,520-4,800 RPM
Transmission 8-speed automatic
0 to 60 mph 4.6 seconds
Top speed 30 mph
Curb weight (lbs) 4,277

Prices

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It’s way too early to talk about prices, but the fact that the X3 M will be the most expensive version of the X3 range is already a fact. A sticker in excess of $65,000 is very likely.

Competition

Mercedes-AMG GLC63

2018 Mercedes-AMG GLC63 Exterior High Resolution
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The AMG GLC63 is already available, but it’s brand-new for the 2018 model year. Beefed up in a similar fashion, the AMG version sports a significantly more aggressive exterior compared to the standard model, while the interior gets a host of unique luxury features. Under the hood, it’s the only vehicle in this niche to still use a V-8, in the form of a twin-turbo, 4.0-liter unit. Sounds familiar? It should, because it’s the same engine available in almost all AMG models nowadays. With specific revisions for each vehicle of course. As usual, two flavors are available. There’s a "base" GLC63 rated at 469 horsepower and 479 pound-feet of torque and a GLC63 S version good for a solid 503 horses and 516 pound-feet of twist. The GLC63 is not yet available in the U.S., but expect it to cost significantly more than the AMG GLC43, priced from $54,900, in base trim.

Find out more about the Mercedes-AMG GLC63 here.

Porsche Macan Turbo

2015 - 2017 Porsche Macan High Resolution Exterior
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Until Audi delivers an RS version of the Q5, the Porsche Macan Turbo is pretty much the only option available outside the Mercedes-AMG above. The most powerful iteration of the small German crossover, the Macan Turbo gets its juice from a twin-turbo, 3.6-liter V-6 rated at 395 horsepower and 406 pound-feet of torque. That might not sound like a lot compared to the AMG GLC63, but when equipped with the Performance Package, the Macan Turbo benefits from 434 horsepower and 443 pound-feet on tap. The Performance Package also slashes the 0-to-60 mph sprint to only 4.2 seconds, while all-wheel-drive is standard for excellent dynamics and stability. Pricing for this model starts from $87,700, which isn’t cheap, but not overly expensive compared to its rivals.

Learn more about the Porsche Macan Turbo here.

Jaguar F-Pace SVR

2018 Jaguar F-Pace SVR Exterior
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Launched for the 2018 model year, the F-Pace SVR is one of the most extreme crossovers in this niche. A more aggressive take on the F-Pace design-wise, the SVR looks quite menacing when compared to the X3 M, sporting massive intaes up front, a lowered ride height, and a diffuser with a quad-exhaust setup around back. The interior has been beefed up as well, now featuring sportier seats, carbon-fiber trim, and extra standard equipment. But it’s the drivetrain that sets this beast apart, as the supercharged, 5.0-liter V-8 engine delivers a whopping 550 horsepower and 502 pound-feet of twist. Getting to 60 mph takes only 4.1 seconds, while the top speed goes as high as 176 mph. Pricing starts from $79,990 in the United States.

Read our full review of the 2018 Jaguar F-Pace SVR.

Conclusion

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Not much is known about the future BMW X3 M, and the fact that the high-performance crossover is still a rumor makes things that much more difficult. However, thanks to BMW’s almost linear redesigns as of late, I am confident the actual production car fits most of my description. As for the impact the X3 M will have on the luxury market, I’m also confident the high-performance hauler will be met with much enthusiasm, which will help it contribute to the nameplate’s success in the United States.

  • Leave it
    • No V-8 engine
    • Not the prettiest crossover
    • Pretty expensive
    • Tough competition

Spy Shots

May 12, 2016 - BMW X3 M caught testing at the Nürburgring

2019 BMW X3 M Exterior Spyshots
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2019 BMW X3 M Exterior Spyshots
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2019 BMW X3 M Exterior Spyshots
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April 28, 2016 - BMW X3 M caught testing in Munich

2019 BMW X3 M Exterior Spyshots
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2019 BMW X3 M Exterior Spyshots
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2019 BMW X3 M Exterior Spyshots
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Update History

Updated 04/28/2016: Our spy photographers caught the upcoming BMW X3 M out for a first testing session on public roads in Germany as well as close to the M test center outside of Munich.

Updated 01/15/2015: In a recent interview offered at the 2015 Detroit Motor Show, BMW M chief Frank van Meel announced that both the X3 and the X4 are about to receive M versions. It should arrive in dealerships sometime in 2016.

Updated 01/28/2015: Based on the latest rumors, we’ve created a rendering for the future X3 M SUV. Check it out after the jump.

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